Enhancing Your Rosh Hashanah Rituals at Home

More than many other Jewish holidays, the High Holidays take place in the synagogue. While most Jews associate Passover, Hanukkah and Shabbat primarily with home celebrations, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur conjure up memories of hours spent in services.

But these synagogue-based holidays can be enhanced through home rituals that add meaning to the messages of the day. Here are some ideas, old and new, for bringing the lessons and themes of Rosh Hashanah into your home.
As with most Jewish holidays, food is the focus of home celebrations of Rosh Hashanah. Families and friends gather for extended meals, which include traditional foods such as apples and challah dipped in honey. Honey, a symbol of the wish for a sweet new year, also appears in other holiday foods, such as tayglach — a honey and nut pastry — and honey cake. Challah, normally braided, is baked round as a reminder of the never-ending cycle of life.


Besides saying the prayers for the apple and the honey, you might want to add personal meaning to these rituals by asking everyone at the table to offer a wish for the New Year as they dip the apple or challah in honey.


Here’s a yummy Honey Cake recipe: (parev)

  • 2 eggs
  • 1C sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ C Honey
  • 1/2C plus 1 Tbsp vegetable oil (safflower or canola)
  • 1 C coffee (brewed)
  • 2 C flour
  • ¼ C nuts (optional)

In large bowl, combine all ingredients (except nuts). Beat for 5 minutes. Pour into a loaf or bundt pan. Sprinkle nuts on top. Bake in 350F oven for 50-60 minutes; test with toothpick to ensure it’s done. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top and serve. Freezes well. Can also make into cupcakes in paper lined pan; bake 350F for 15 minutes or until done.


Preparation for Rosh Hashanah, as well as the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, can also include discussions of the meaning of teshuva (repentance) and family resolutions for the New Year. Rosh Hashanah can be an opportunity for reflecting on the year that has passed and setting goals for the year to come. Taking time for such reflection can make the themes of the holiday come alive for the entire family.


Thanks to MyJewishLearning.com for much of this information.