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Making Meals For Jewish Holidays

Aug 17, 2007
Food is an important part of the Jewish tradition so knowing what to serve on each holiday is important.

When orthodox Jews came together on Rosh Hashana, they greeted each other with the Hebrew phrase "L'Shonah Tovoh Ticosevu," meaning "May a good New Year be in store for you."

For us children this was a very happy Holiday. This was the time when, in addition to the regular Sabbath feast, there were plenty of sweets - honey, nuts, ginger, spice, etc., harbingers of a sweet and zestful year. We would watch big-eyed, while Mama dished out the round-cut carrots with the tzimmes, signifying a well-rounded year. This was the Holiday of desserts. Not so for the grownups. To them Rosh Hashana was the time to review their deeds during the past year, repent their sins, beg forgiveness for transgressions, and pray to God to inscribe a good New Year. To Mama it was a time to work even harder, to gather her flock together and feed them even better than before.

Everyone knows that the Jewish people have suffered persecution, poverty and hardship throughout their history. We have been told that for every ill there is a compensating good. I like to think that one of the benefits of belonging to our people is that we have so many Holidays when we may foregather, eat, drink and be merry. Indeed this was and is a measure of our reverence. So let us celebrate by turning to the section headed cakes and desserts - and Esst gezuudt! Please remember that kreplach are a must on this Holiday.

Another good Jewish holiday is Succoth. All over the world, in various cultures and throughout known history, the fall of the year is a special time for celebrating and giving thanks. To the Jews, the feast of the Harvest is known as Succoth. There is another and deeper significance to this holiday, for the succah (tabernacle) is symbolic of the shelter in Jewish wanderings, the haven of refuge for a persecuted people.

Orthodox Jews observe this holiday in the following way. A succah (a wooden structure covered with vine leaves and branches) is put up outside the house. Here food is served throughout the holiday week.

I remember how excited we children would be when the succah was put up in our back yard. Because of its limited capacity, the adults naturally had priority, and we children became unexpectedly angelic at the promise of being permitted into the succah if we behaved like grownups - "Vest zein a mensh, vest du essen in succah!"

For an entire week, food was carried from the kitchen, sometimes two or three flights down, with the children gaily bringing out the edibles and the elders happily gathered around the wooden table under the leafy boughs. This is a holiday when kreplach of all kinds are served.

And how can we talk about Kosher cooking without mentioning Hanukkah? Hanukkah is the most delightful of the holidays for children. It is the Feast of Lights, the commemoration of the time when Maccabeus and a small band of followers fought the Syrian-Greek tyrant Antiochus and rededicated the temple. The story is told that when the Maccabees found enough oil to burn for a single day, miraculously it lasted eight days.

This is the holiday when potato pancakes, potato kugel and blines are served; when we distribute Hanukkah gelt (money) to children. There is a dradle (top), which the young ones spin for forfeits of nuts.
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