Healthy and Sustainable Rosh Hashanah Resources

appleandhoney.jpgThe holiday of Rosh Hashana is the perfect time to open up to new possibilities and be grateful for everything you have. It’s a time to let the blasts of the shofar shake you awake to the world around you. And more than anything, Rosh Hashana offers the opportunity for tshuva (returning/repentance) – to return to our best, most full versions of ourselves. As we turn inward, we have the chance to ask, “what impact do our actions have on our friends and family, our communities, and on the earth?”

In celebration of this time of turning and returning, The Jew & The Carrot created a list of healthy, sustainable resources that will help you welcome Rosh Hashana with mindfulness, sustainability, and joy.

Go apple picking
What could be better than dipping apples that you picked yourself, straight from the tree? Many family farms welcome visitors to pick apples, make fresh cider, and tour their grounds. Needless to say, this is a great activity for the whole family. Find a farm near you at Pick Your Own.

Avoid the honey bear
Apples and honey are two of the most recognizable Jewish holiday foods. Meanwhile, the emergence “colony collapse disorder” (aka the mass disappearance of bees from hives) indicates that something is awry in the bee community. For a great article about the potential causes of CCD, click here. Meanwhile, the ubiquitous honey bear that sits in most of our cabinets tends to be filled with industrially-produced (and not particularly flavorful) honey. This year, dip your apples in delicious, raw honey produced by a small-scale apiary. Try:

• Bee Raw Honey recommended by The Jew &The Carrot blogger, Eric Schulmiller.
• Marshall’s Honey, raw and certified kosher
• Tropical Traditions raw and certified kosher

Make it Maple
The Jew & The Carrot blogger Rabbi Shmuel Simenowitz – Hazon’s favorite Orthodox maple syrup farmer – celebrates the New Year with his family by dipping apples into maple syrup from his own trees. Join him in this sweet twist on traditional apples and honey by switching to maple syrup or, better yet, maple butter (swoon!) Find out more about Shmuel and his maple farm here.

Seasonal centerpieces
Instead of fresh-cut flowers that will wilt after a few days, create a sustainable centerpiece that will impress your guests. Place 12 heirloom apples or pomegranates in a glass bowl, or place potted fall flowers (chrysanthemums, zinnias, marigolds etc.) around the table to add seasonal color.

Eat and Learn
Rabbi Shimon said: If three have eaten at one table and have not discussed words of Torah over it, it is as though they had eaten of the sacrifices of the dead, as it is written (Is. 28:8). Ask each of your Rosh Hashana guests to bring a reading (e.g. traditional Jewish texts, Hasidic tales, a favorite poem or scene from a play, children’s book etc.) to share on a particular Rosh Hashana-related theme. Need an example? Try “returning” “scarcity and abundance” or “mindfulness.” At dinner, ask your guests to share what they brought.

Highlight local flavors
This year, Rosh Hashana falls at the end of summer and beginning of early fall. It is one of the most amazing times to find fresh local vegetables through your CSA or farmers’ market. Serve a root veggie medley that highlights the vegetables of fall. Check out The Jew & The Carrot’s recipe archive for ideas.

Celebrate the non-local foods
Pomegranates are an important symbolic food on Rosh Hashana, but are not necessarily local to most regions in America. Instead of eschewing them entirely from your table, take the moment to recognize why you are including this food and how it fits into your celebration. Ask someone at your dinner table to prepare a few words (a poem or fact sheet) about pomegranates, or whatever other food you’d like to highlight.

Kosher organic wine
Serve your friends and family wines from Hazon’s kosher, organic wine list. The list got a whole lot longer since Baron Herzog decided to go “sustainable” (three cheers!) The wines on this list are tasty, hechshered and good for the earth – you’ll be able to impress your friends as the world’s best sustainable sommelier.

Get outside!
Rosh Hashana celebrations have the tendency to fall into the rhythm of pray, eat, sleep, pray, eat, sleep…eat. This year, change up that rhythm by finding some time to get outside into the crisp fall sunlight. Go for an early morning walk before synagogue, meditate outside in the afternoon, take a walk on the beach (if you’re lucky enough to live by one!), or bring your kids to the park after lunch to sing holiday songs. Whatever way you get there, don’t wait until Tashlich to get outside.

Cast away cleanup
Tashlich is one of the most beautiful moments of Rosh Hashana where we head towards a flowing body of water and toss in bread to symbolically cast away our sins. As part of your Rosh Hashana preparation, take a day in the week leading up to the holiday (and bring your friends and kids) to “clean up” the river or watershed where you will perform the tashlich ritual. Collect any garbage or bottles lying about and walk around to get a lay of the land. When you come back the next week, note if you feel a different connection to the space.

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