I always remember my bubbe’s challah from when I was a little boy. Throughout the year she would braid the oblong loaf six times; the act of braiding signified the unity of everyone coming together to celebrate Shabbat and six represented the six days of the week. But for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, she would braid the challah differently: into a circle.
Tradition teaches us that the Jewish year is not linear, rather it’s circular. A circular year conceptually looks like a spiral, as each date aligns with the date of last year. By perfecting our actions of the previous year and by doing acts of kindness this year, we are amending the previous year’s errors. Eating round challah, which is traditionally made throughout Tishrei (the first month of the year), acts as a reminder to contemplate our life, our choices, and our accomplishments. We appreciate what we have overcome in the past year, despite the challenges that we faced.
Like round challah, honey is a staple during Rosh Hashanah. As a symbol of our hope for a sweet year to come, it becomes a popular guest in Jewish homes in the form of honey cake, apples and honey, and teiglach. And with challah! Instead of dipping challah in hummus or salt as we do the rest of the year, we dip it in honey. Dipping this round challah signifies dipping not only this year’s, but also every previous year’s Rosh Hashanah into honey, into sweetness. Through this act, we become connected to our grandparents, their grandparents, and the generations before them.
May you all have a meaningful Rosh Hashanah surrounded by family and love.
By a Social Work Intern