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Jewish new year brings food, families together
Provided by Ava Silk
The Silk family’s homemade Kugel is photographed. The recipe has gained so much attention in the community that the Silks have taught catering companies how to recreate this dish.

As apples are dipped into sweet honey, a year just as sweet is rung in.

The connection between food and tradition runs strong within the roots of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah. The holiday is celebrated as the Jewish New Year, centered on the month Tishrei in the lunar Hebrew calendar. The main tradition of Rosh Hashanah is to wish for a sweet new year through going to services, hearing the shofar and eating sweet food such as apples and honey. Families within Jewish communities gather together annually to share traditional and symbolic foods.

“Tapuach ve Dvash (apples and honey) is one of my favorite dishes to eat during the holidays because of the symbolism behind the dish and what it means,” junior Mia Zilberman said. “It represents the hope and happiness of the new year, which is a good mindset to have as the new year enters.”

While Tapuach ve Dvash is one of the most representative dishes for this holiday, families celebrate with other cultural dishes, which vary with each family’s different traditions.

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“Whenever I see the kugel, I know it’s a special time of year when I really get to embrace my Judaism and get a fresh start,” freshman Ava Silk said.

Kugel is a sweet, baked pasta that is typically eaten among Ashkenazi Jews. It is made with cinnamon, butter, cream cheese, sugar, eggs, apricot nectar, milk, cinnamon, raisins and of course, egg noodles. It is topped with a mixture of crushed cornflakes, butter, cinnamon and sugar.

“After services my mom, who is a rabbi, and all the other clergy members get together and have an amazing dinner,” Silk said. “While we eat the kugel, we share stories and catch each other up on what’s been happening in our lives, tell jokes and just have a good time with people we love and care about.”

Families dedicate time into perfecting their family’s take on these well-known cultural dishes and putting their own spin on them. The Silk family “combined and tested” kugel recipes until she found the “perfect” recipe.

“Everyone raves about this kugel, and it is definitely a fan favorite,” Silk said. “It is loved by the community so much that my mom went to a big catering company and taught them how to make it, so that everyone can enjoy that sweet noodle dish on the holidays with people they love.”

Many families take pride in their own unique recipes and prefer a specific way their family prepares the dish. In junior Sam Rudin’s family, it’s a long lasting tradition to make matzo ball soup.

“My mom and grandma make [matzo ball soup] every single holiday, it’s delicious,” Rudin said. “I’ve tried other [takes on the dish] and compared to other families or any restaurants. My family’s [matzo ball soup] is much, much better.”

While each family has their own way of celebrating the holidays, the different foods are a great way to bring people together.

“After services, we go home to a meal, and there’s just a sense of warmth that reminds me that no matter what the new year brings, I will be surrounded by my loved ones,” Zilberman said.

This story was originally published on Three Penny Press on September 26, 2023.