The Jewish High Holidays are rapidly approaching. Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year falls on the first two days of the month of Tishrei, this year being September 10-11. According to Jewish tradition, Rosh Hashana is the anniversary of the creation of the world. As the sun sets on the eve of September 9, families will light candles, head to synagogue for prayer, and return home to a festive meal, full of traditional foods and prayers. Every Shabbat and festival is marked with a special meal, beginning with prayers over wine and bread. On Rosh Hashana, we traditionally pour honey over the challah bread, to bring the blessing of a “sweet” new year. Honey is incorporated into other foods, including a tradition to dip apples in honey at the New Year feast, and recite the prayer “May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our Fathers, to renew upon us a good and sweet year.”
There are different names for Rosh Hashana. Rosh Hashana literally means “the head of the year.” The Bible refers to this day as Yom T’ruah, the Day of Shofar Blowing. During the prayer services, we blast a ram’s horn for several reasons. The first reason is to remind God of the story of the Binding of Isaac. Abraham was ready to sacrifice his only son to God, when an angel appeared and told him to sacrifice a ram instead. The Bible portion about the Binding of Isaac is read during the Rosh Hashana services. Another reason is that the sound of the shofar is reminiscent of the sound of crying. This sound is meant to stir us, to focus on our prayers, which brings us to the next names of the holiday – Yom HaZikaron, the Day of Remembrance, and Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgement. On this Day, God remembers all of His creations, and inscribes their fates for the year to come. From Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, there are ten days to give charity, repent, and pray in order to sway God’s decisions, which are sealed on Yom Kippur.
The entire month leading up to Rosh Hashana and the ten days following to Yom Kippur are known as a time of reflection, repentance, charity, and introspection. We believe that in the month leading up to Rosh Hashana, “the King is in the field.” God has come down to His people to hear our prayers and offer us an opportunity to reconnect with Him. On Rosh Hashana, we “reannoint” God as our King.
We believe that if we are going to ask God for forgiveness for our sins, we must first ask forgiveness from anyone we may have wronged during the year. We want to begin the new year with as clean of a slate as possible, and we also do our best to forgive others.
At the festive meal, we eat round, circular shaped challah bread. The shape of the circle represents wholeness and completion, as well as the cyclical nature of the year. We eat sweet foods, and wish one another a “good and sweet new year.” One may wonder – are “good” and “sweet” not the same thing? We believe that everything that happens comes from God, and therefore it is good. But, these “good” things may cause us pain. Therefore, we wish one another that the good things from God should be “sweet as well.”
At the Heart of Israel, we would like to take this opportunity to wish our readers a good and sweet new year. May we have a year of peace, and all be inscribed in the Book of Life.
Below, find our very own Racheli Eyal’s personal honey cake recipe that she makes every Rosh Hashana for her family. Try out the recipe yourself using our Heart of Israel Negohot Honey, found in the Heart of Israel on-line store.
Racheli’s Honey Cake
- 6 eggs separated
- 1.5 cup honey
- 1 cup oil
- 2 cup sugar
- 4 cups flour
- 4 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. instant coffee
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 0.5 tsp. cloves
- 1.25 cup black (Turkish) coffee made from 3 tsp.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- In large bowl combine and mix : egg yolks, honey, oil and 1.5 cup sugar
- In smaller bowl mix: flour, baking powder, instant coffee, baking soda and cloves.
- Add and mix dry ingredients and black coffee alternately to large bowl
- Beat egg whites with half cup sugar till firm
- Add beaten egg whites mixing gently to large bowl.
- Oil 2 13*9 rectangular pans or 6 8.5*4.5 loaf pans
- Fill each pan 3/4 full
- Bake in oven until a cake tester comes out clean from the center of the cake
Share your favorite Honey Cake Recipe with us and we will publish some of the recipes next week
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