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Rosh Hashanah Seder

Try Something New this Year!  
Hold a Rosh Hashanah Seder in your Home! 

Okay, we already know that the High Holy Days will be radically different this year than any other. We also know that so much if it will be online. But, there are so many ways to engage in meaningful and joyous celebration of the holidays in person. One way to do that is to adopt a very beautiful custom among Sephardic and Indian Jews:  the Rosh Hashanah Seder. 

It is customary among all Jews (Ashkenazi, too!) to eat certain foods on the first night of Rosh Hashanah that symbolize the blessings we yearn for in the new year. We eat honey and say may the new year be sweet. We eat carrots (gezer in Hebrew) and express our hope that when God judges us, God will give us a good decree (Judgment - gezerah). Many eat the head of a fish or lamb and pray we be always the head and not the tail. In other words, it expresses our hopes to control over our own destinies and not be at the mercy of others. There are many other foods that express similar hopes for the new year.
In Ashkenazic tradition, we just eat each food preceded by one line that encapsulates our prayer that we be the beneficiaries of the blessing symbolized by that food. Among Sephardic and Indian Jews, this evolved into an elaborate seder over dinner on the first of Rosh Hashanah. It can include various additional readings, prayers or songs. It is always short, not like a Passover Seder. It adds an air of festivity and of spirituality to the first evening of the new year at home. 

Below are resources for you to create your own Rosh Hashanah Seder. In addition to those who are in your home, you can always include others by placing a laptop or tablet at the table and using Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp, Google Meet or any other video-conferencing software or phone app.  If you do hold a seder, we want to hear from you! Send us a copy of your Haggadah and photos and share reflections on what the evening meant to you. You can email them to Diane Dronzek


Articles about holding a Rosh Hashanah Seder: 
My Jewish Learning    
Video Seminar: How to Host a Rosh Ha-Shanah Seder   
What goes on your Rosh Hashanah Seder Plate?  
The Story of Rosh Hashanah Seders in India  

Preparing your food for the seder: 
Jamie Geller’s Explanation of the Seven Symbolic Foods (Simanim) 
Jamie Geller’s 7- Minute Recipes for each of the Symbolic Foods (Simanim) 
A Rosh Ha-Shanah Seder Cookbook with recipes using all the symbolic foods from the seder 

Places to buy a Rosh Hashanah Seder plate: 
World of Judaica  
Actual Rosh Hashanah Haggadahs that you can use: 
Schusterman Foundation  
Masorti (Conservative) Movement in Israel 
Sixth & I Synagogue in Washington DC  
Ritual Well  
Apples and Pomegranates – A Children’s Story about the Rosh Hashanah Seder  
A Buddhist Inspired (but very Jewish!) Seder from Ritual Well  
AJWS Rosh HaShanah Seder for Justice

Mon, September 28 2020 10 Tishrei 5781