More Shakshuka, Less Screen time
Get the apples and honey ready!
Once again it is that time of year to get the apple and honey and other sweet treats ready for Rosh Hashanah. This year, I imagine many of us will be washing those apples with more care than ever before and having New Year celebrations via Zoom! As I reflect on a year that’s been different from any other in living memory, and look forward to a return to ’normal’, I am equally determined that some of the new habits I have formed will stick over the next twelve months and beyond. So here are two lists: one of things I hope to do more of, and the other, less:
- Sustainability: helping the vulnerable and less fortunate members of our community
- Cooking: new lockdown favourites are shakshuka and Mediterranean fish stew (I’ve turned into quite the culinary whiz in recent months)
- Self-Care: enjoying new hobbies such as paddle boarding (making my way round the Regent’s Canal and leafier parts of the Thames). Definitely my new preferred method of travel!
- Exercise: Keeping up my exercise regime, including my first-ever triathlon.
- Work-life Balance: switching off my work phone for more family day trips to the countryside and
family movie nights
- Time on the screens (apart from the Israel Bonds calls, of course!)
- Hand sanitizer!
- Late night Netflix bingeing
So, as I get ready for my first attempt at making a honey cake, while trying to prevent our ‘Covid Kitten’ from jumping on the counter and eating it, I wish you and yours a Chag Sameach and best for the upcoming year!
A traditional Rosh Hashana recipe from my
family to yours
The recipe I share with you all today is very special to me.
Having a degree in advertising and a passion for cooking, I created an app called lyciacookbook, where I share all the recipes I learned from my mother, Clairy Dayan, and many others all year round.
My parents' family, as well as my husband's parents, are of Syrian Lebanese origin, so in our house we predominantly eat Middle Eastern food. My paternal grandmother is from Aleppo, and my maternal grandmother is from Damascus. For generations, there has been competition between the housewives of Aleppo and Damascus, all claiming their cooking was better than the others. All I know is that my two grandmothers, Mrs. Alice Dayan and Mrs. Emelie Kachani, cooked incredibly well.
My mother kept the custom of preparing this dish and I made sure to learn too, to keep the tradition alive.
This recipe I chose to share with you is one we used to eat for Rosh Hashanah lunch at my grandmother Emelie’s house. My mother kept the custom of preparing this dish and I made sure to learn too, to keep the tradition alive. Certainly, the result could not even reach the level of Teta Emelie’s touch, but the affective memory is all there in the look, in the smell and in the taste of this festive food.
I hope you like it!
Planting the seeds
It touches me that through the sounds and tastes of Rosh Hashanah, we plant the seeds of tradition,even in our youngest children.
Rosh Hashanah and the following Yom Kippur holiday are something special for our family. Our son is five years old now, and since he has been attending kindergarten, he often brings a hand-crafted creation home, like the wooden apple he painted. It´s important for me to pass on the traditions of Rosh Hashanah to him, and one he really loves is hearing the blowing of the shofar in the synagogue. It touches me that, through the sounds and tastes of Rosh Hashanah, we plant the seeds of tradition, even in our youngest children.
Seeing our son enjoy this holiday so much reminds me how important it is to stop and focus on G-d and the beautiful world, health and business he gave us. For me, the Ten Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are a time of spiritual correction to reflect on the past, to grow from it, and to move forward. It´s a fresh start to a new year – something we all need during these recent, difficult times.
So, we celebrate the old and the coming new year, meet others in the synagogue to share our joy and thankfulness, and listen to the sound of the shofar. At home, we enjoy the sweet wine, dip apples in honey and eat special challah with raisins, hoping and praying for a sweet 5781 which will, be ezrat Hashem, bring us a vaccine for Covid-19 – maybe even from Israel.
A Time for Reflection
A rich mixture of traditions
Rosh Hashanah for me has two main aspects. First, it is a time of reflection, both looking back and looking forward and second, it is about spending time with family.
In my family, we enjoy a rich mixture of traditions, both Ashkenazi and Sephardi. For example, we always have “La soupe aux sept legumes,” a seven-vegetable soup, on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. It is a Moroccan tradition, and each year we end up guessing which seven vegetables have been included in the soup!
As it is a time for reflection, and both my wife and I are widowed, we will inevitably reminisce about our sadly departed spouses and the happy celebrations we enjoyed in the past.
As someone who usually spends a significant amount of time in Israel, I miss not being able to visit. But even in the current crisis, the momentous peace treaty with UAE is something of which we can all be proud. I hope that in the coming year we will all be able to visit Israel and, in the meantime, will show our support by continuing our involvement with Israel Bonds!
My family tradition on Rosh Hashanah
Moroccan Jews are superstitious, and I am one of them. On most Jewish holidays, I am fascinated by symbols and signs. On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, traditional symbols go far beyond dipping apples in honey!
The new year is a time of soul-searching and personal introspection. We take time to contemplate our accomplishments and choices of the past year and try to make better ones for the year ahead. In Hebrew, the words “year” (shana) and “different” (shoneh) have the same root, meaning that a new year has to be a little different from
the previous one.
We recognize the beginning of a new cycle and acknowledge that it will be different, better and sweeter by dipping the bread in honey.
Baking challah is one of the three most sacred blessings for women (along with family sanctity and candle lighting). On Shabbat, we usually braid the challah and dip it in salt, but on Rosh Hashanah, in my family, the challah is made circular to symbolize a full, round year. Symbolically, we are doing with the dough what we should be doing with our soul: kneading it over and over, round and round, smoothing out all the imperfections and mistakes of the year before. We recognize the beginning of a new cycle and acknowledge that it will be different, better and sweeter by dipping the bread in honey.
I hope your family also has similar, much-loved traditions!
These thoughts are dedicated to all my brilliant co-board members of Israel Bonds France, and more generally, to all the women who will work hard to make this holiday as meaningful as possible for their dear friends and families.
To all, l’Shana Tova!
Hope is more powerful than fear
Because life is about more than just moments of joy, let’s turn our wounds into wisdom.
Let’s feed our hope, which is much more powerful than fear. The rivers keep flowing, and the sun continues to illuminate. Although life sometimes may seem unforgiving, nothing alters the majesty of the sky, and in the depth of life there is no abyss, only love and beauty!!!
This year, Rosh Hashanah will be different and unique, but existence continues reaching new highs, and we are still a part of it. In this deep silence, hope will be the faithful guardian of G-d’s holy words. We can feel them like a poem in the sunset that plays on our heart.
Lovingly, I wish for you all, my dear Israel Bonds family, that G-d’s judgment may be compassionate, and may He bless his world.
A Remarkable Breakthrough
Rosh Hashanah is almost upon us and it’s time to reflect on a weird year that has ended on a surprising high. It’s a time when, traditionally, we all take stock of our lives and our futures. Suddenly, our State of Israel has normalised its relations with The United Arab Emirates. For all of us to whom Israel is so important, this is a remarkable breakthrough. The UAE is a modern, talented country full of innovation, with young and educated citizens who want to work and prosper with us in Israel. We can all look forward to visiting the Emirates and to welcoming Emirati guests who want to come to dynamic Israel, itself brimming with young, innovative citizens as well as with so much history. Both countries are powerhouses,
looking to the future.
The UAE is the third largest economy in the Arab world, and where better for it to invest than in our remarkable start-up nation? Imagine the new world this agreement may open up!
I see in my crystal ball branches of Israel’s biggest banks openly trading in downtown Dubai, and some of the major institutions in the Emirates opening new offices in Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard. Emirates Airlines, regarded as one of the world’s finest, will have its planes bringing tourists and business people to Ben Gurion. Our own EL AL will have major opportunities to feed passengers into the airline hub in Dubai, which then spreads out to destinations all around the globe.
Le Shana Ha’ba’a B’Yerushalayim will not be said quietly…
Most importantly, this normalisation sends a huge signal of confidence and optimism that can only benefit both Israel and the UAE. Israel has developed a Western commercial/ legal system that is far more economical to use than the English or US systems - whilst offering similar transparencies and reliability. Israel can offer a sophisticated and respected stock exchange to Emiratis, who might otherwise want to place their shares in European exchanges, but really prefer to do something “locally.”
Now it is Rosh Hashanah, but soon enough, Pesach will come around and the Jewish community in Dubai (which already exists) will come together – hopefully physically, and not on Zoom! For the first time, Le Shana Ha’ ba’a B’Yerushalayim will not be said quietly but instead shouted out in hope and expectation.
Shana Tova to our readers of KOL, wherever they may be - especially those in the UAE.
A Feast of Trumpets
As a bible-believing, bible-reading Christian, I love to celebrate and mark Rosh Hashanah, also known as the Feast of Trumpets, as one of G-d’s moed’im - appointed times. If it is in HIS diary, then it needs to be in mine too!
What better way to mark the time than listening to the wonderful and so moving rendition of Avinu Malkenu by my namesake, Barbra Streisand, performed in the beautiful Great Synagogue in Budapest. Look for the clip online if you have not heard it before:
How good and pleasant
it is when G-d’s people
live together in harmony!
Sometimes I arrange a little supper and invite round other like-minded Christians, sometimes Jewish friends invite me, and sometimes it is a wonderful Psalm 133 mix - How good and pleasant it is when G-d’s people live together in harmony! Either way, delicious apple and honey cake is much enjoyed.
May I end by wishing all Jewish friends reading this a happy, healthy and sweet new year!
Photo: Blake Ezra Photography
A Dream Rosh Hashanah Dinner Guest
As a sports journalist, I have been commenting from the edge of the rings for thirty-five years on the most prestigious boxing fights throughout the world for the major media (Canal +, TF1, Eurosport, La chaine l'Equipe ...)
Thanks to this very privileged position, I can share the exhilaration I receive from observing the rings, and convey my passion and emotion to my audience.
The Great Book of Boxing, my fifth on the noble art, recounts the history of some of the most memorable fights over three centuries, some of which I had the pleasure to witness. It also discusses my favorite champions, notable films on boxing, and presents many personal and original documents.
The kind of inspiration we need for the new year
Benjamin Leonard, born Leiner, was an extraordinary lightweight champion who has made history.
His parents fled the pogroms of Russia to settle in the late 1890s in New York City in Manhattan’s impoverished Lower East Side. He fought his first fight at the age of fifteen, and at the age of twenty-one won the world lightweight title, boxing in front of 55,000 spectators. He retained his title for seven years and seven months,
a record in the category.
What a joy it would have been for me to share a Rosh Hashanah celebration with him. I would have asked him to explain to me how he could read the thoughts of his opponent and dodge blows with a rare mastery. His technical virtuosity made him invincible - just the kind of inspiration we need when starting a new year!
I wish every Israel Bonds supporter a year full of achievement and success in their important mission!
Shana Tova Ou M’Touka.
Insights into Rosh Hashanah’s symbolic foods
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is the day of judgment and coronation of G‑d as king.
Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the universe, the day G‑d created Adam and Eve, and it’s celebrated as the head of the Jewish year. It begins this year at sundown on the eve of Tishrei 1 (Sept. 18, 2020) and ends after nightfall on Tishrei 2 (Sept. 20, 2020).
The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is blowing the shofar (ram’s horn) on both mornings of the holiday (except on Shabbat), which is normally done in synagogue as part of the day’s services, but may also be done elsewhere for those who cannot attend. Rosh Hashanah feasts traditionally include several foods, each of which has at least one significance:
- Round Challah bread - On Rosh Hashanah, we are allocated our income for the upcoming year. Try as we might, we cannot earn a penny more than G‑d decrees. Some may convince themselves that their wealth is dependent on their own prowess and ingenuity.
In truth, however, our fortune is similar to a wheel. Just as a wheel turns, one’s fortune may go up or down, for everything is in the
hands of G‑d. The Rosh Hashanah bread-symbolizing all our sustenance for the coming year-is shaped like a wheel to remind us that who rises and who falls on the wheel of fortune is decided by G‑d alone.
- Raisins - Some add sweet raisins to the challah - which are made from grapes. The Jewish people are compared to grapes, and the round challah is reminiscent of the globe. Thus, the round raisin challah gives form to our wish that G‑d-who sustains the entire world-grant life and prosperity to His nation, the Jewish people.
- Apples dipped in honey - One of the primary reasons an apple is significant its sweetness. Coupled with the added sweetness of the honey, it is symbolic of the ultra-sweet year we hope G‑d will grant us
- Pomegranate - By eating the pomegranate, we express our wish for a year filled with as many merits as a pomegranate has seeds.
who rises and who falls on the wheel of fortune is decided
by G‑d alone.
- Fish head - We face today a crisis of leadership. In almost every area of life-familial, communal, global and
personal-there is a gaping void at the top. Rather than leading with vision and purpose, today’s leaders are
often no more than followers.
We see governments and communal leaders who aren’t building policies based on deeply held values and
time-tested truths, but rather are shaping their platforms by following popular opinion and adopting whatever is in fashion on the day. Many parents are not giving their children clear direction and guidance, but rather take their cues from the children themselves, and cave in to their every desire. Individuals are often not living lives directed by core beliefs and lofty ideals, but rather follow their lower instincts, and then develop convoluted justifications for living a life of self-indulgence.
This is why we are so confused today. What should be the head is nothing more than a tail. Instead of ideals shaping reality, it’s the other way around-whatever my reality is, I will shape my ideals to fit it.
The reason for this crisis in the modern world is clear. So many of us have forgotten G‑d. We have lost our Head, our source of absolute truth. Once ultimate authority is weakened, all authority is weakened.
But we can turn this around. Only when we reconnect to our Head, the true Higher Authority, can we have heads
that are not tails.
Parents must have a clear picture of what they want their family to look like, based on eternal values that are as true today as they were for our grandparents. And then, with love and sensitivity, along with firmness and discipline, parents must guide their children to live up to that standard. Leaders need to have a moral vision that is immune from the shortsighted influence of mob thinking, and with pragmatism and resolve inspire their constituents
to share that vision.
As individuals, we must espouse ideals that transcend our own selfishness, a higher purpose that comes from a place beyond our own ego, so we can control our lower urges and live a life of meaning and soulful achievement.
So, as a new year dawns, we pray that we should be the head and not the tail. We need it for our world,
our families and ourselves.
We should all be blessed with a happy sweet new year!