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Rosh Hashanah: A Holiday Year in Food

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The ultimate summary of most Jewish holidays can be boiled down to “they tried to kill us; they failed; let’s eat.” During holidays, foods take on special meanings and different Jewish ethnicities eat different foods when celebrating. Each holiday revolves around a different type of food that helps participants use their senses of taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing to feel the holiday.

The year starts today, with Rosh Hashanah, literally translated as “head of the year.” For this occasion, dishes are sweet and symbolize our wishes for a sweet new year. Sukkot comes about a month later (sometime in between late-September and late October).  Sukkot is a harvest holiday focused around eating earthy foods and grains.

Then comes Hanukkah, the miracle of oil that lasted for many more days than was anticipated. For Hanukkah, all the foods you eat are fried.  Followed by Hanukkah is Tu Bishvat, the festival of the trees, that has foods symbolizing all four seasons and recognizing what is given to us from the earth.

Purim—a mix between Halloween and Mardi Gras, where the food you make is given to neighbors and others to show you care—comes next.  After that is Passover, the festival of unleavened bread, where each food symbolizes the journey from slavery to freedom.  Finally, is shavuot, when Jews received the ten commandments. In celebration, you stuff yourself with all sorts of dairy desserts.

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