Friday, September 11, 2009

DrTom's first Rosh Hashanah

(Adam Sandler.  This guy wrote and sang a song that can help you understand the Jewish holiday that is NOT Rosh Hashanah.)

Next Saturday Robin and I are invited to the home of our son-in-law's relatives to celebrate Rosh Hashanah for the first time in our lives.  Our son-in-law Mitch is Jewish; we are not.  We know nothing about this Jewish holiday, so we feel a bit intimidated, as we will be the only ex-Lutheran and ex-Congregationalist atheists in attendance. 

My wife and I were raised with the custom that when you are invited to someone's home for a meal, you bring an appropriate gift or item to contribute.  What the heck would that be in this case?  Is there a Rosh Hashanah cake we can buy at the bakery?  A Rosh Hashanah pickle or pretzels?  Maybe there is something growing in DrTom's gardens or woods that would work.  Is there anything screaming "Mazal tov! Eat me for Rosh Hashanah"?  Do I have any kosher fungi growing on a log, or kosher fiddleheads (no, that would be in spring), or matzah balls (do they grow in the woods?).

Discover China

We have been to numerous Jewish ceremonies since our daughter married Mitch, so it is not like we know nothing.  Her wedding was great--all that dancing with chairs and stomping glasses on the floor.  Baby-naming ceremonies with good food.  A somber funeral.  Even the briss for my helpless grandson, with all that cutting and blood and wasted foreskin, was bearable.  So much Hebrew spoken at all these events that I now feel so completely at ease with the language that I even utter a couple of remembered words when I smash my finger with a hammer or drop a log on my toes.  The beauty of using Hebrew when you are angry or in pain is that if anyone hears you, they simply think you are breaking into a verse of "Fiddler on the Roof".  But we have no experience with this particular Jewish holiday.

I even listened to that Adam Sandler song several times to get some guidance about Rosh Hashanah, but then realized his song is about that OTHER Jewish holiday, Hannukah.  How does one dress for Rosh Hashanah?  Formal or biz cas?  Should I obtain a yarmulke (pronounced yamaka) to wear?  Maybe you can find one of those at an army-navy surplus store.  And, do I have to drink Mogen David wine at this event or can I order a single-malt?  Does my cigar have to be kosher, or can it just be Nicaraguan?

I have so many questions and I feel so ignorant.  But I guess I will just follow one of my mottos in life for this event, and "Just show up, and be prepared to have a good time".


  1. well, a common tradition on Rosh Hashanah is the dipping of apples and/or challah in honey- do you have access to some local honey and apples? that could be a lovely addition to the meal... (make sure no one else is bringing this, though, since it's a very popular tradition).

    also, although it's pronounced 'yamaca', it's spelled yarmulke.

    i would suggest talking to your daughter or son-in-law, since every Jewish family (mine included) has wildly varying traditions on Rosh Hashanah and other holidays.

    Finally- DON'T BRING PORK. :)

  2. Thanks Emily. Great advice. I will see if they are having apples. I also corrected the yarmulke thing. I hate misspelled or inaccurately used words.