Epicuriosity 101: Things to know about Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year

Jay Kitterman
Jay Kitterman

Happy 5783! Jewish New Year!

Happy 5783! Jews around the world in September will be celebrating the Jewish New Year. My article this month is based on the most common questions I receive from my non-Jewish friends plus two delicious traditional recipes.

What is Rosh Hashanah? Jewish New Year

Rosh Hashanah translates as “the head of the year” in Hebrew. It is the day that Jewish tradition believes God created the universe, and it serves as a time for us to celebrate. Although the festival is a chance to enjoy time spent with friends and family, including a special holiday dinner the first night of Rosh Hashanah, it is also a time for reflection. It begins the 10 days of repentance for sins committed in the previous year. At the end of the 10 days is Yom Kippur, which is the Day of Atonement.

When is Rosh Hashanah 2022?

Rosh Hashanah this year will begin at sundown Sunday, Sept. 25; It will end at nightfall on Sept. 27.

What foods are associated with the holiday?

Rosh Hashanah recipes feature foods that are symbolic and meaningful in Jewish culture, such as leeks, pomegranates, carrots, honey (for a sweet year) and apples. It wouldn't be Rosh Hashanah without a beef brisket.

What is Yom Kippur?

Jews mark the day of Yom Kippur by fasting for 25 hours. The most important part of Yom Kippur is the time spent in the synagogue. Even Jews who do not go to the synagogue very much during the rest of the year, will go on Yom Kippur. The day is spent in prayer, fasting with perhaps a break or two.

Why does the holiday date change every year?

The simple explanation is that the Hebrew (Jewish) calendar is a lunar calendar, whereby the calendar we normally use, the Gregorian calendar, is a solar calendar. The Jewish calendar is synced to the moon, so the first day of the month is a new moon and the fifteenth day of the month is a full moon. Easter also changes each year because it is also based on a lunar cycle. Easter Sunday always falls on the Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring equinox in March.

What is the proper greeting for the Jewish New Year?

L'Shana Tova. Wishing your Jewish friends Happy New Year is as easy as saying L'Shana Tova, which means "For a good and sweet year" in Hebrew. Happy New Year also works. 

Good friends and great cooks are Gloria Schwartz and Nancy Chesley. Gloria in the past taught cooking classes at Bergner’s and still occasionally offers a class. Nancy is a former professional journalist and occasionally with husband Pat, is a traveling partner of ours.

Brisket recipe from Gloria Schwartz

3-5 LB. brisket or chuck roast (bone in would be best if you can get it)

2 tsp. salt

¼-1/2 tsp. pepper (or more)

1 ½ -2 yellow onions, sliced thin

3 stalks of celery, with leaves

1 heaping cup ketchup

8-10 oz. beer (flat, light, doesn’t matter)

1-2 garlic cloves, smashed

If using a brisket, take off some of the fat. Don’t take all of it off. Spray oil the bottom of a roaster large enough to lay the meat in flat. Place the beef in it (if using brisket, fat side up).

Season the meat with salt and pepper. Add garlic cloves to the bottom of the roaster. Place the sliced onions, celery and ketchup (in that order) over the meat.

Preheat oven to 450F. Roast for 15 minutes, uncovered. Lower the heat to 325F, cover and cook, basting at times for 2-2 ½ hours.

Then pour the beer over the beef. Recover and bake until tender another ½-1 hour. Test using a large fork; if it comes out easily, it’s done.

Remove the meat and the vegetables from the gravy. If there is too much liquid, cook the liquid over medium high heat until it is reduced a bit. Separate the vegetables. Process the vegetables in the food processor.

Cool the gravy, and then remove the fat (if you have time). Add the pureed vegetables to the gravy and mix to make the gravy thick. This can be made a day or two, or three ahead and can be frozen easily. Serves 6-8 depending on how much meat there is. Serve with rice, noodles or boiled potatoes.

Apple Torte recipe from Nancy Chesley

½ cup canola oil

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

4 small apples, sliced, about 2

Lemon juice

Cinnamon and sugar, mixed together

Spray 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Cream oil and sugar together in mixing bowl. Blend in eggs.

In small bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Add this mixture to the oil, sugar and egg batter and stir until mixed well. Pour into prepared pan.

Arrange sliced apples on top of batter to completely cover. Sprinkle with lemon juice, then generously cover with cinnamon and sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes.

Nancy says she found this recipe on the internet. She sometimes adds cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and/or ginger to the cake batter. It tastes best when eaten warm.

Thank you to Gloria and Nancy for the holiday recipes. L’Shona Tova from Carol and myself.

More information

Lincoln Land Community College offers credit programs in Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management and Baking/Pastry, and non-credit cooking and food classes through LLCC Community Education. For more information, visit www.llcc.edu.

Cooking or food questions? Email epicuriosity101@llcc.edu.

This article originally appeared on State Journal-Register: Things to know about Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year