Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is coming upon us in a few weeks. As I’m a visual person, I love the tangibles in Jewish holidays: on Sukkot, I enjoy decorating my Sukkah. On Purim, my kids and I decorate our mishloach manot. On the Passover, I’ve enjoyed creating place mats with my kids for the Seder table. On Rosh Hashana we have these food items called “simanim”, meaning symbols. Each “siman” is a symbol for prosperity in the year to come. By sampling these foods that have positive connotations through a pun, we come up with a new hope for prosperity with each food.
My plan for the next few weeks is to do a post on each of the simanim (that I can find). If you know of others, please share in the comments! Here’s my list:
|Beet||selek=remove||“may our adversaries be removed”|
|Gourd, squash, pumpkin||k’ra=proclaim or tear||“our merits proclaimed” or “decrees torn up”|
|Pomegranate||rimon||“may our merits increase as (the seeds of) a pomegranate|
|Black-eyed peas||rubia=increase||“may our merits increase”|
|Leeks||karti =severed||“may our enemies cease to be”|
|Carrots||gezer=gezairah=decree||“may our enemies be consumed”|
|Dates||tamar=sounds like yitmu||“may our enemies be consumed”|
|Fish head, sheep head, or head of lettuce||Rosh=”head”||we should be as the head, not the tail|
There’s the traditional apples and honey, for a sweet new year, but I’m not sure of the pun here.
Here’s one Ilana-Davita sent me, that puns in Yiddish:
Another custom is to eat tzimmis. Tzimmis is made out of carrot, which in
Yiddish is called “meren,” which is a homonym with the Yiddish word “merin,”
which means “increase.”
Another Yiddish one: Some people eat “farfel,” which sounds like the Yiddish word “farfalen,” which means “thwarted,” so we pray: May it be Your will, Hashem our G-d and G-d of our forefathers, that all our enemies’ be thwarted.
Here’s a new one, with the pun being in English:
Celery with raisins for “a raise in salary”.
My plan is to depict each one of the simanim (or most or many of them) over the next few weeks. I might do a photograph or a watercolor or some other creative way of showing the food. I’ll start with my beet leaf, since I already did one of those:
So, which next? A gourd, a fish head, a carrot? Anyone got a preference?
(Thank you to Ilana-Davita for her help with this post.).