newsJewish Diaspora

Rosh Hashanah: The right way

Click photo to download. Caption: A table of traditional Rosh Hashanah items. Credit: Gilabrand.
Click photo to download. Caption: A table of traditional Rosh Hashanah items. Credit: Gilabrand.

January’s secular New Year is filled with obligations everyone enjoys like backwards counting, mass texts, and synchronized kissing in public. The Jewish New Year, while a joyous time, can be a maze of social, familial, and apple-related responsibilities that require more patience than waiting in the bathroom line during High Holiday services.

Here are some things to keep in mind to make sure your New Year goes from Rosh Hashan- “ugh!” to Rosh Hashan-“ahh!”

Temple fashion

For some Jews, Rosh Hashanah marks one of the only times of year they make it to the temple. It’s your yearly grand premiere, so it’s time to stroll in like a majestic, Jewish peacock.

For men, keep it classy with a form-fitting suit. Make sure your shirt is deeply unbuttoned and that you have Star of David necklace-shaped tan lines, so that everyone knows you care enough to still wear it on the beach. Also, it’s something that makes you stand out, like a cool eye patch. That way when you casually wink at Shoshanna from Sunday school with your one good eye, she’ll know you are a serious man.

I don’t know anything about women, so for a woman, probably some kind of shiny belt? And at least one shoe? Seriously I know nothing about women.

Temple seating

You show up to evening services, and suddenly you are neck and neck with hundreds of other sharply dressed Jews scrambling for the good seats. It’s like that A-E-Pi free Matisyahu concert all over again! Where exactly are those good seats?

You want to be far enough away from the front so no one sees if you start to drift and your head hits the person in front of you. You do want to be able to hear everything, like the exhilarating remarks from the Temple president at the end. You’re looking for a spot in the middle, to the left. That way the rabbi won’t see you roll your eyes when he mentions iPods in his sermon so everyone knows he’s cool.

Don’t even get me started on people saving seats for someone “parking the car,” no one ever comes to claim them. I say save three seats on either side of your family. If anyone asks, say you drove multiple cars and you deserve a seat for each one that you parked.

That way you have a buffer zone. When you’re called upon to turn to your neighbors and say “Shanah Tovah!” you can avoid sweaty handshakes, and you won’t need to make 20-30 seconds of Jewish-themed small talk.

Apple dipping

It seems that apples gain magic powers during this time of year: you dip them into something sweet, and you have a sweet new year. If that’s the case, what happens when you dip apples into other things?

–       For a rich new year: Alfredo sauce

–       For a happy new year: On a clown

–       To meet a nice, Jewish girl: Old Birthright t-shirts

Conversely, if you dip your fingers into honey and then rub it onto an apple, you get a sweet tan. That’s a little weirder than these other ones, so you should probably avoid it.

Family time

Family dinner can only mean one thing: “Where are the Jewish babies?”

To avoid questions like this, besides the old stealing-a-baby-and-pretending-its-yours technique, you need to comment on the food as much as possible. Your parents will notice you’re eating a lot, and this will please but more importantly distract them. Use phrases like:

–       “This gefilte fish just spun a dreidel in my stomach, and it landed on gimel!”

–       “These scalloped potatoes come from the land of milk and yummy!”

–       “There’s a bar mitzvah in my mouth and this brisket just wrote me a check for $18!”

Follow these tips and you’ll be wearing an eye patch, alienating your neighbors in temple, and dipping apples into strange items, but your Rosh Hashanah will be truly special.

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