Rosh Hashanah symbolic foods
2 years ago

Filling the plate with meaning

A new look at traditional and symbolic foods used for Rosh Hashanah

Many homes have the custom of making traditional blessings over various foods at the Rosh Hashanah meal as symbols for the year to come. This set of blessings came to be known as “simana tava”- good symbolism for the beginning of the year, bearing wishes and hopes for the year to come.

Cures to Blessings

Traditionally, many of the blessings are actually curses directed at our adversaries and tormentors. But why curse when we can bless? In that spirit, we have prepared for you a ceremony of symbolic foods that consists entirely of sweet blessings. You are welcome to use it at your holiday meal!

Tonight, we will devote time to wishing ourselves, our families, our friends, and our society new blessings via ancient symbolic foods. We plant within ourselves hopes for the new year through our food. This wonderful custom gives depth and festivity to what otherwise might be an ordinary dinner. 

Make it Your Own

The ceremony of symbolic foods consists of wishes and pleas with an informal and non-binding structure. Accordingly, making changes presents no difficulty with Jewish law. 

Here are a few ideas that may work well at your table…

  • Option 1: Choose a special food on the table. Say its name, and make up a creative blessing with it for the new year.
  • Option 2: Choose a food. Go around the table, and each person must make up a blessing inspired by the food. If they can’t think of a blessing, that person is eliminated from the game. When someone is eliminated, begin a new round with a new food. The winner will be the person who displays the most creativity and manages to hold out through all of the rounds.

For example:

  • Pickles– May it be this year we will get out of any Pickle that may come.
  • Sushi– May it be this year that what is inside will teach us about what is outside.
  • Curry– May this be an MVP year like Steph Curry’s (NBA player).
  • Soup Nuts– may we have a crunchy year.
  • Coca-Cola– May we have a particularly sweet year – even if we didn’t post about how much sugar is really inside.
  • Gin and tonic– May we have a year of good combinations.

Photo credit: Derrick Brooks

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