High Holy Days Food
What delicious foods are customary for the High Holy Days?
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Start of Rosh Hashanah Dinner
Many families gather for a special dinner the evening of Rosh Hashanah. If they’re also attending the synagogue evening service that begins the holiday, they may have this meal on the early side, so everyone can get to the synagogue on time. Some families just have people over for a meal and don’t go to synagogue at the start of Rosh Hashanah.
The tradition is to start the meal with challah bread dipped in honey. Challah is the special, braided bread that is generally used as part of meals on the Jewish Sabbath. It’s usually oblong and braided. Because Rosh Hashanah celebrates the Jewish New Year, the custom is to use a round challah bread often times with raisins. The circular shape symbolizes the cycle of the years and the raisins represent a sweet new year.
During Jewish holidays, the start of a celebratory meal begins with a blessing giving thanks for bread, followed by everyone enjoying some challah. At all other times of year, the custom is to sprinkle some salt on the challah before everyone has a piece. But, at a Rosh Hashanah meal, the custom is to dip the pieces of challah in honey, again, in order to symbolize everyone’s hopes for a sweet new year! (You can see a video demonstration of three ways to make a round challah from scratch here and a recipe here.)
End of Yom Kippur Dinner
As we discussed above, the other major holiday during this season is the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, which takes place ten days after Rosh Hashanah. Yom Kippur is a fasting holiday, but when Yom Kippur ends, there’s a tradition of having a “break-the-fast” meal. This meal is often set up as a buffet table with foods that are light and easy to digest. Find our recipes for Yom Kippur break-the-fast here.
The InterfaithFamily Guide to the High Holy Days is also available in PDF.