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ROSH HASHANA

The Movable Feasts

September 16, 1998|AMELIA SALTSMAN

Rosh Hashana, translated literally from the Hebrew as "head of the year," is celebrated on the first of the seventh month, Tishri, in the Hebrew calendar. Because it's a lunar calendar, this means that the holiday falls in September or October of the Gregorian calendar, in variations similar to Easter's in the spring.

Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement that occurs 10 days later, comprise the High Holy Days, the most important and meaningful holidays of the Jewish year. They are both a beginning and an ending to the year. The New Year celebrates the hopes for the future; the Day of Atonement is a look back at and reparation for past misdeeds through fasting and introspection.

Special holiday meals are prepared for Rosh Hashana and for breaking the fast as Yom Kippur ends. Because of the cyclical aspect of the High Holy Days and the wish for a sweet and full year, round foods--coiled bread, round noodles for soup--and sweet foods--honey, pastries, dried fruits--are important holiday symbols.

With Jews scattered throughout the world, there is no one precise Jewish cuisine. Instead, there are various interpretations of holiday foods, evolved over time and place, depending on local customs and products.

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