Enjoying Rosh Hashana: Celebrating with Simanim

Rosh Hashana tableOn the first night of Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) we have a table displayed with various foods – most are fruits and vegetables. These foods are called simanim – symbols. When I was growing up, I only remember dipping the apple in the honey as a siman – I don’t recall doing any of the others. It could be that doing so many of the simanim is more of a Sephardi than an Ashkenazi custom; however, the Ashkenazi prayer books do include the simanim. I described and illustrated simanim on past posts: you can see 9 illustrations or photos of simanim here. This past post has a list of the simanim. The Sephardim actually refer to eating the simanim as a Rosh Hashana seder.

Because the High Holidays (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur) can be quite serious (the prayers are long and there is a lot of standing in shul), I like to emphasize the parts of each holiday that are enjoyable. Thus the beginning of the title of this post: Enjoying Rosh Hashana. Maybe I will make this a theme for other Jewish holidays as well; however, you won’t find such a title for Tisha B’Av (the saddest day on the Jewish calendar) – that would not be appropriate. Maybe for a day such that one I could say: Finding meaning in Tisha B’Av.

Below is one siman that I have been doing for the past few years. It represents the head of a fish. I did once buy the actual head of a fish. It smelled so bad I couldn’t wait to throw it. We do eat fish, but only if it is fresh! Maybe next August I will write a post on how to make the head of a fish using gefilte fish.

gefilte fish head

This post was written in honor of my blogger friend Batya. Many years ago she found an early post of mine and volunteered to submit to a blog carnival that she ran called Kosher Cooking Carnival. Recently, she has struggled to find people interested in the blog carnivals. I think more people are using Facebook for quick sharing. And the few bloggers that are left may have other ideas (SEO, social media) for sharing posts. Every now and then someone writes a “Is Blogging Dead?” kind of post. No, it’s not, but one does have to get creative. Batya wrote a recent post about Rosh Hashana fruit head (instead of a fish or lamb head or other animal).

Over to You

If you are Jewish, have you celebrated Rosh Hashana with simanim? Which ones have you done? Does it make your holiday more enjoyable?

Are you a blogger? Do you think people are blogging less in general? Do people share differently? Are blog carnivals a thing of the past?

rosh hashana simanim
On our Rosh Hashana table: apple, honey, dates, pomegranate, carrots

8 thoughts on “Enjoying Rosh Hashana: Celebrating with Simanim

  • I enjoy learning…. When I was about a year into blogging, I joined into a meme and my post was the post of the day… 240 people visited my post. If you joined a meme or carnival you visited every link…. Not anymore…. Sadly I think blogging isn’t new or novel anymore like it was

    • Michelle, you mentioned the “240” people to visit … as you know, that is a bit too many. Sometimes we romanticize how things were. At this point, I enjoy visiting a few quality posts here and there and leaving one comment. If the comment is just “Great post!” or something like that, it’s hardly worth leaving.

  • I’m not Jewish, but I had the very good fortune to participate in some of the celebrations with a very dear friend. Your post brought back fond memories from many years ago. Thank you. 😌

    • “faux fish head” – would love to hear more about your method. Maybe I will ask you again in August 2016 – I might write a post on this topic.

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