This Rosh HaShana (Jewish New Year) I’ll be saying shana tova u’metukah (‘have a sweet and happy new year’) with an even more pertinent message as the world deals with the global health crisis. In Israel we’re going into another nationwide lockdown for at least 3 weeks starting on the eve of Rosh Hashana this Friday, which means that families who normally get together to celebrate and/or go to synagogue for the holiday will not be allowed to do so. While the rate of infection keeps rising, and minimising the spread is crucial, the atmosphere of the country is one of utter frustration and confusion. My cousin in the army will be stuck at the base instead of home with his family. I had plans to visit them in Tel Aviv but that’s unfortunately not going to happen either. Instead my housemates and I will be staying home and joining prayer services and family meals over Zoom.
For Rosh Hashana it’s traditional to eat foods such as honey cake, apples dipped in honey, pomegranates, dates, and a sweet round challah bread in order to have a “sweet” new year. What a genius idea, I know! So my housemates and I have decided to start off our new year with a kilo of honey from the bee farm of our Palestinian friends in Umm Alkhair (a Bedouin village in Area C of the West Bank) and from our friends at Sindyanna, a joint Jewish and Arab women’s collective in the Galilee that many of you have visited with us.
In addition to the eating (the main part of any Jewish holiday), this Hebrew month of Elul is dedicated to reflection and repentance. We look back on the year that has been, ask for forgiveness for our wrongdoings and look forward to better times ahead. So while the world feels mad at the moment, I’m focusing on how I can better myself, first and foremost, then how I can influence my friends, family and those around me in a positive way. Shana tova!
Umm Alkhair visit with Israelis activists for Rosh HaShana, 2019
You can use the codeword “TELUSIN5” to receive a discount on Sindyanna’s products online – a great gift for you or your Jewish friends during this holiday. And a delicious way to start a conversation about the people on the ground in Israel/Palestine.