It’s starting to sound a lot like…

September is my favorite month of the year because it heralds the imminent return of our High Holydays. The first hint of the coming Jewish New Year is the sound that comes from our neighbor’s apartment starting about two weeks before the holiday, as he practices blowing the Shofar, a trumpet which is made from a ram’s horn and used during religious services . The sound of the Shofar always propels me back to my conservative Jewish roots and childhood memories of attending High Holyday services with my parents and brothers. Our neighbor’s practice sessions don’t have the ringing tone one hears at the synagogue, because in consideration of his neighbors he muffles the sound.

My Israeli family being secular, our holidays revolve around the social aspects, meaning family gatherings and food. Our holiday meals have been “pot luck”, a joint collaboration of everyone’s efforts, for about the past 10 years. When my dear 80 year-old Polish mother-in-law felt more energetic, no one could assist her in preparing the holiday meal. It was most definitely a one-woman show. But the last few years have settled on her a bit hard and she’s passed the baton of holiday meal preparation to her daughters-in-law. (Honestly though I’d wish she’d share her recipes now as well. My own mother (z”l)* never wrote down her mother’s apple strudel recipe and, well, it’s lost.)

Every year we’re torn between preparing traditional holiday foods and trying something different. In our family, however, any food that isn’t from the East European, i.e. Ashkenazic, kitchen is considered a bit exotic. We are connoisseurs of the bland palate. My contributions to this year’s holiday meal are a cooked green vegetable, honey cake and a dessert with apples. I really do believe that in spite of our good intentions to try something new, we come back to the same foods every year because they speak to us on an emotional level. It wouldn’t be the same holiday if we ate Nouvelle Cuisine.

Even if our menu doesn’t change from year to year, changes, of course, are inevitable. My father-in-law (z”l) won’t be with us this year, our daughter lives and works abroad and can’t visit for the holiday, right after the New Year our older son will be leaving on an extended trip abroad and our oldest nephew will soon begin his mandatory military service. When we sit down to the holiday table this year, dip a slice of apple in honey and wish each other a Sweet New Year, it will be said with the knowledge that not only are we continuing Jewish tradition, but celebrating our family’s traditions as well, in spite of change.

Rosh Hashanah 5767May the coming New Year, 5768, be one of health, peace and prosperity for you and yours.

*(z”l) means “may his/her memory be blessed”, noted for someone who has passed away.


9 thoughts on “It’s starting to sound a lot like…

  1. You said:
    My own mother (z”l)* never wrote down her mother’s apple strudel recipe and, well, it’s lost.)

    If she was anything like my mother, she didn’t have a recipe but would just taste whatever she was making and add a little bit of this or that while cooking. I have been wishing I had paid more attention to her recipe of cheesecake! I would know how to do it, except for the kind of cheese she used. And that makes all the difference, I guess.

  2. Claude-you’re absolutely right. Most of the recipes of that era were a pinch of this and a smidgen of that.

    One of the hardest things about moving internationally is the change in available products and their taste! A friend came home to the US after spending 6 months in France and her first comment was that American chickens taste like “tofu birds”! LOL

    Shirley-the holiday dinner at my sister-in-law’s Wednesday evening was lovely and overall it’s been a very enjoyable break from the usual routine.

  3. Pingback: New Year « Blogging in Paris

  4. Jennifer,

    could you please answer a question for me if you may. This is a 10-day period of High Holidays starting with Rosh Hoshanah on the 12th and 13th .
    I believe that these 2 days are festive ones. Yesterday morning, i saw quite a few of my neighbours ( I live in Canada) going to the synagogue and the guys went out to play soccer last night ( we have a league goign in our city).
    However, all of the Jewish players have mentioned that they won’t be able to show up for the final game on Sunday ( during which the winners are celebrated and we have a family BBQ in the part next to the foot-ball pitch).

    Is it a reflective time before Yom Kipper which is on the 22nd? Most of them are secular but they all confirmed that they can’t play on that day.

    Thank you in anticipation.

  5. The New Year’s holiday ran from Wednesday night through Friday night, when the Sabbath kicked in. Starting tonight, Saturday night, is the Fast of Gedalia, which lasts until sundown on Sunday. It is now the period of “Slichot” (asking for forgiveness) leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which starts Friday night next week and ends at sundown on Saturday.

    It all strikes me a bit odd because playing soccer on Friday night, which is the Sabbath, is not exactly “kosher” and if, as you say, these guys are secular, none of this should make any difference to them anyway.

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