Over the summer, our former intern Mitul shared her take on what Ramadan celebrates. Continuing in that tradition, since I’m Jewish I thought I’d share a bit about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. If you’re not Jewish, you may have seen these holidays on the calendar – or, if you’re lucky, even gotten off from school for them. But what are they really about?
Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year (in Hebrew, it literally means “Head of the Year”) and celebrates the beginning of the new Hebrew year. Because the Jewish calendar is based on the moon, the actual date of Rosh Hashana varies from year to year, but it always falls somewhere in the fall. For Jews, Rosh Hashana is a holy day, but a happy one: although it’s solemn and most people celebrate it by spending time in synagogue praying, it is a holiday focused on hope for a sweet new year. Because of that, the traditional food associated with Rosh Hashana is apples dipped in honey.
Today marks the first day of Ramadan, a month-long celebration for Muslims around the world. Ramadan occurs during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is a time for prayer, fasting, and self-reflection. According to Islamic tradition, Ramadan is when Allah, God, revealed the first verses of the Qu’ran, the holy book, to the prophet Muhammed.
I, among many, am celebrating Chanukkah this week. It’s a good holiday: candles, chocolate coins, and deep fried foods, especially latkes.
Most people know latkes as potato pancakes, slathered in apple sauce or sour cream, and they are both plentiful and delicious. But they’re not the only kind of latkes! Jews from around the Mediteranean have a tradition of spinach latkes, which are one of my favorites this time of year. I’ve had beet latkes and sweet potato latkes, and a friend has been telling me about apple latkes. If you can grate it or shred it, form it into a patty, and fry it in oil, it can be a latke.