Hi, I’m Sara. As a Jewish Orthodox woman, I’ve been asked to write a diary during our Holy Days and Festivals.
For those of you who don’t know, our new year begins tonight. It is then followed by Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement, and finally by Sukkot – which lasts a week.
So why was I asked to write a diary? Well, it all started 19 years ago on a trip to New York when I met my husband.
How we met is a topic for a different day, but the fact that he was a Rabbi was not something I thought a lot about at the time.
However (a word of caution to those planning to marry a man of the cloth), once I married a Rabbi, I soon came to learn that I would have to share him with a community. In fact, in the Jewish world, the wife of the Rabbi even gets a title – Rebbetzin.
When we came to Hull to serve the Jewish community 16 years ago, I was a young mother of 2 daughters and when people called me ‘Rebbetzin’, I would turn around to look for who they were addressing – before realizing that they’re talking to me!
So, here I am with the New Year (Rosh Hashana in Hebrew) beginning tonight and I have a lot to do.
I went to sleep at 2am, partly because I was cooking and mostly because I was on the telephone with my family and friends in America. I try to call my close relatives at this time of year to wish them a good year.
Although people do send cards, I enjoy hearing their voices, finding out any new recipes and catching up. But the price is high – very little sleep! And soon I’ll call my grandmothers in Israel and I know I’ll cry as they bless me and communicate their love through the phone.
But now I better go back to the kitchen, as I put the finishing touches to my menu. The theme of the food is sweet! For a sweet new year.
It’s also the only time of year I cook the head of a (salmon) fish. I need to decorate it now and we’ll all have the tiniest piece tonight as we wish each other to be ‘heads’ and not ‘tails’.
I knew my children would run down this morning to have a look at the head of the salmon. As usual, with shouts of ‘yuk’ and ‘look at its eyes’ (which I will later cover with a cherry tomato!) I then have to keep it away from them before it gets dissected.
That’s what I most love about Festivals and special days. It’s the traditions, the food, the songs and the bonding of the generations. It’s when the past seamlessly blends with the present, and when the future of my children is also created.
Generation gap? Not tonight at our New Year table!
The Significance of Food during Rosh Hashana: Audio – Click here