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Celebrate Rosh Hashana with Honey Cake

PastedGraphic-1Rosh Hashana  literally means “head of the year” in Hebrew.  It starts next Thursday Sept 21. In some Jewish communities it is traditional to eat the head of a fish during the Rosh Hashana holiday meal.


Fish is also eaten because it is an ancient symbol of fertility and abundance.

Rosh Hashana is the beginning of the Jewish New Year and this year and as you said the 2 day celebration starts on Thus 9-21.  Over the centuries it has become associated with many food customs, for instance, eating sweet foods and sweet egg bread  to symbolize hopes for a “Sweet New Year.”

What are some of the foods for this celebration?

Along with fish, since honey is mentioned often in the Bible, it is used a lot, like in the honey cake recipe I’m sharing.  Remember that Honey represented good living and wealth. Israel is often called the land of “milk and honey” in the Bible.

On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, people dip challah, that sweet egg and honey bread, into honey and say the blessing over the challah. Then they dip apple slices into honey and say a prayer asking God for a sweet year. Slices of apple dipped in honey are often served at religious school – as a special Rosh Hashanah snack.

Sometimes a new fruit is eaten. What’s the significance?

The new fruit, eaten on the second night, would be a fruit that has recently come into season but which no one has eaten yet. When the fruit is eaten, a blessing thanking God is given.  This ritual reminds them to appreciate the fruits of the earth and being alive to enjoy them.

A pomegranate is often used as this new fruit. It’s said that this fruit contains 613 seeds just as there are 613 divine commandments.  Another reason given for is that they wish their good deeds in the new  year will be as plentiful as the seeds of the pomegranate.

Lots of Jewish households make honey cakes. What’s the symbolism there?

It’s another way to wish for a sweet new year. It’s a generational food, like challah, and some families pass down the special recipes.


This recipe from a Jewish friend is easy to make.

1 cup sugar

1 cup honey

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 teaspoons grated orange zest or 3/4 teaspoon orange extract (optional)

1 cup orange juice

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1-1/4 teaspoons cinnamon

.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan or

.    spray with baking spray.

.    Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and

.    cinnamon. Set aside.

.    In a large bowl, combine sugar, honey, oil, eggs and orange zest.

.    Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the orange juice. Pour into prepared pan.

.    Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick  inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.










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