Thursday, September 9, 2010

shana'a tova!

Last night we celebrated the Jewish New Year with dinner at Uncle Igor's house in Nes Ziona, about a 40 minute drive from our place in Tel Aviv, going southeast.  Everyone had a half day of work yesterday (like Friday's, when they're getting ready for shabbat), and today is a holiday. Rosh HaShana'a (which literally means "head of the year" in hebrew) lasts 48 hours, so with the way the holiday falls this year, it ends when shabbat begins, which means another day and a half of closed stores and empty roads afterwards. 

I went to the Shuk HaKarmel (the big street market in Tel Aviv) yesterday and came home with a backpack full of fruits and veggies for 140 shekels ($37).  Then we took a cooler with us on our way to Igor's so we could stop at the Tiv Tom near his house and buy some meat and dairy.  We try to go out there because the city only has smaller, more expensive grocery stores.  Tiv Tom is a big chain here, opened by russian immigrants.  It is not kosher, so you can buy shrimp and pork there, and they stay open a few hours later.  It is on the higher end, so it looks a lot like a large Whole Foods.  Hope this food will last, because everything is shut down now until Sunday.

There were about 20 people at Igor's.  Aunt Nechama cooked a traditional meal.  It starts with a series of appetizers that are the same every year, as each item represents something.  A prayer is read before each item is passed.  (Although there was discussion that Nechama's brother, who was trying to get through the readings over the chatter at the table, wasn't even reading the correct blessings).  The most well known of the foods passed around is the combination of apples and honey.  This is a wish for a "sweet" new year.  They also pass some foods that are savory (or sour) like zuccini to which you are also supposed to add honey to make the new year sweet.  There were also pomegranite seeds and fresh dates (not dried).  Then came a first course of more traditional foods - fish cakes (gefiltefish), liver pate, boiled eggs, roasted veggies and garlic (yum!), potato salad, and lettuce and tomato salad.  Soup came next, and this of course was matza ball soup.  When you didn't think you could fit any more food in, out came the mains - beef stew, chicken over potatoes, and several rice dishes.  It's a good thing they took an hour break before bringing out the honey cake and ice cream cake!

As you have just read, it sounds a lot like an American Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Get the family together, eat until you pass out, then eat leftovers for a week. 

The one difference I noticed was that while family travels to be together (the road traffic is WORSE than the day before Thanksgiving in the U.S.), people don't stay over.  We left at 11:30pm, and got caught in the traffic jam of a lifetime on the highway.  Except instead of sitting in it like we would have in the U.S., we joined dozens of other vehicles that pulled into the breakdown lane and then backed up about half a mile to the last turn off.  Can you IMAGINE?!?!? 

1 comment:

  1. hi, enjoyed your account of Rosh hashana at Uncle Igor's :) Wishing you a wonderful new year. Thanks for including the csr-reporting blog on your roll.