Tonight marks the first night of Passover, so I thought I’d share a bit about what the holiday celebrates and what it means to me. Passover is one of the most important Jewish holidays of the year, and is probably the most observed Jewish holiday after Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur (despite what people think about Hanukah!).
Passover commemorates the story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, as told in the old testament (or, if you’re the kind of person who waits for the movie to come out, as told in The Ten Commandments). According to the story, the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years, until God, with the help of Moses, led them out of Egypt and into freedom.
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.
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.
Some interesting essays round the blogosphere this week touching on all kinds of diversity—race and more!
Cynic’s blogging for Ta-Nehisi Coates, and he has a really interesting look at the progression of ethnic groups through his neighborhood: first the Irish, then the Jews, now the African Americans. Each group starts as outsiders, whom the insiders swear never to accept, so they create their own institutions and maintain their culture but eventually assimilate, spread out and leave the enclave available for the next group of outsiders—and with the vibrant African American community there now, he wonders, what comes next for them?