In North America, the eating of apples and honey is so symbolic of Rosh Hashanah that many of us likely have a greeting card near us right now emblazoned with the image of a slice of apple dripping with honey and a note wishing us a sweet New Year. Yet Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews do not tend to eat apples dipped in honey because it is essentially an Ashkenazic custom. But, not to worry, Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews instead celebrate Rosh Hashanah with a ritualized and meaningful seder that, overall, seems like a way sweeter deal.
I asked my friend Lydia Nacawa to tell me about the traditions surrounding her family’s Rosh Hashanah seder, which was always held after Erev Rosh Hashanah services and after evening services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Lydia was raised in Montreal in a Jewish Egyptian family. Her paternal grandmother, Fortunée Sakal, was brought up in Cairo and, as the family matriarch, ruled both the Cairo kitchen and the Montreal kitchen with the culinary skills and loving hands Lydia herself has inherited. [Read more…]