Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rosh Hashanah: Renewing and Repeating

Two weeks ago, in my Sunday Currently vlog, I said I was looking forward to the approaching New Year; Rosh Hashanah begins tomorrow night, and this season truly is one of renewal for me.  Jon just arrived, we're preparing for an unexpected but not unwelcome move to another apartment, and the weather has finally changed so it really does now feel properly like fall.  There are so many opportunities to start this new year - 5775 in the Jewish calendar - afresh, but it's also incredibly satisfying to remember from what this year has been born.

To symbolize that, challah eaten on Rosh Hashanah is traditionally round.  (Shabbat challah is braided, the six strands of the bread representing the six working days that are bound into the single loaf of the sabbath.)  Rosh Hashanah literally means "head of the year," but shana, year, comes from the Hebrew word for "repeat."  Thus the round challah embodies cyclical time, every year beginning in the year that came before and leading to the next.

I decided to bake my own round challah on Sunday to prepare for Rosh Hashanah.  Combining this recipe and this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, I made a round woven loaf with honey to encourage a sweet new year, and then I stewed apples and spices for a compote to serve with the challah.  It was absolutely delicious, and with our first bites Jon and I wished each other a shana tova.  To you as well, dear readers: may you be inscribed and sealed for a very good new year!

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