With the Jewish holiday season right around the corner–the fun begins tomorrow night with Rosh Hashanah– for a while I’ve been meaning to put together a list of my favorite Jewish holidays, because they’re fun, kind of exotic (unless you’re actually Jewish or something), don’t require getting up early, and most importantly, they are hella tasty. L’chaim!
The Jews followed Joseph into Egypt, and it was cool for a while until the Pharaoh decided to enslave them. But then Moses came along and told the Pharaoh (probably Raamses II) to Let His People Go, God sent a bunch of plagues, and the Jews invented Matzoh right before walking through the Red Sea. All this so that thousands of years later, matzoh ball soup could exist. It’s mainly for this most delicious of all Jewish foods that Passover gets the top spot on the list, but I kind of love the whole thing. You get to drink four glasses of wine, which is Manischewitz if you’re doing anything right, before dinner and that ALWAYS makes food good. You get to mix horseradish with charoset, the Jewish interpretation of mortar.
I can see where it would be a drag if you went to a seder that was four hours long and entirely in Hebrew, but the reform Jews I party with never make me wait that long. Plus, unlike Yom Kippur, the mere hour of sitting and waiting for food makes the anticipation build to the perfect level, unlike not eating for 24 hours.
However you spell it, it means latkes. If you have never had a latke I weep for you; imagine mixing onion rings and french fries, then dipping them in sour cream, then chasing the whole thing with a jelly donut. Sound pretty good? Yes it does. It’s also the only Jewish holiday where I’ve ever set wrapping paper on fire in the living room. Hey, it’s the festival of lights.
3. Rosh Hashanah
Jewish new year means dipping apples in honey and then eating them, and also that the challah bread is round. Actually, for whatever (deeply symbolic I’m sure) reason, we usually get chocolate chip challah, which is pretty good. Plus the Hebrew part is short and you’re free to snack throughout.
4. Yom Kippur
I imagine this is down near the bottom of anyone’s list, because it’s the Jewish holiday that focuses on the opposite of eating. I did fast for the day once, though I had a normal life and didn’t have to go to Jewish services all day that day or anything, which I hear makes you even hungrier. The break fast food is usually just OK, relatively bland and light because after all these people haven’t eaten anything all day.
All I know about Purim is Hamentashen (and that it’s “Jewish Halloween”), and those are pretty good.
I celebrated this once. we sat in a tent and ate Domino’s pizza. Good, but it wasn’t any matzoh ball soup or latkes.
There you have it. A knowledgeable, culturally sensitive guide to which Jewish holiday invitations you should accept and which you should turn down.