Tag Archives: Rosh Hashanah

5772

I’m a bit late on this, but better late than never. Happy New Year!

 

Now if for some reason you haven’t figured out that I’m jewish yet, this might confuse you.  Probably as much as the random seeming numbers used for this blog title.  Friends of mine who shall remain nameless will probably chide me at first for not making a title of just numbers be 1337.  But you are wrong and silly headed people.  And you know it.

 

No, 5772 is (now) the current year on the Jewish Calendar.  Traditionally the year is counting from Genesis and the first Shabbat.  No, I am not a creationist or anything like that, but I’m trying to explain some things here.

 

The Jewish Calendar is a lunar calendar, much like the arabic and the chinese calendar.  We follow the cycle of the moon because to be honest back when people started measuring time, the moon and her movements and phases was really about the only constant that you could rely on.  The sun never seemed to change, and even when the seasons shifted, it was difficult to really be precise.  At least it was about 3,000 years ago for a bunch of desert nomads.

 

Why is the Jewish/Arabic/Chinese calendars all different lunar calendars?  Well, I to be honest don’t know the answer to that.  Save for the conjecture that they were all counting from different points as the beginning or the ending.

 

This is a blog about my thoughts, think not that you will find any concrete factoids here! If you are really that curious, go look it up!  No, not on wikipedia.  Use a real encyclopedia. You know, the book version.  Some of us, if we’re lucky, actually grew up with some in our houses.  But you can still find them at libraries.  Alright fine, if you’re that desperate to know, go to wikipedia.  Sheesh.

 

But now we’re getting distracted.

 

So yes, it is New Years, or was, and the proper way to celebrate Rosh hashanah (directly translated: Rosh=Head; Ha=The; Shanah=Year. Head of the Year) is with round and sweet things.  A round Challah bread served with honey. Sliced up apples, served with honey. Pretty much anything round, and served with Honey.  Now, with most things in Jewish traditions, there are symbols here. The round challah (and everything else round) symbolizes the year continuing.  Life is an ever moving, ever continuous circle flowing seamlessly from one to the next. Apples, because in the Northern Hemisphere Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of Autumn, just when Apples are ripe and sweet.  And honey, because, well don’t you want a sweet new year?  Honey is nature’s perfect food. Sweet, liquid, and just wonderful.  Why not enjoy it on everything in sight?

 

So what happens after New Years?  Why the Days of Awe.

 

I’m not completely certain on the teachings around these 10 days, but I know what I was taught.  These 10 days are for reflecting on your place in the material world.  Rosh Hashanah is for celebrating that a new year has come, the Days of Awe are for setting yourself in order with regard to everybody around you. Find that person that you screamed at earlier and apologize to them.  Set right all the wrongs that you’ve done in the last year, at least the ones that you remember, and that you can set right, within the next ten days.  Get your material and temporal self straight so that come Yom Kippur, you are cleansed on the outside enough to face God and your inside.

 

Now we come to the big one.  Yom Kippur. Holiest of Holy Days. Highest of Holidays (other than Shabbat, but that’s a completely different discussion).

 

Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement.  This is the day that we jews go to synagogue and pray, while fasting, for forgiveness from God.  We pray for the forgiveness of our own sins, and for the sins of others. We pray for forgiveness of the sins that we have committed against one another, and for the sins that we have committed against God.  There is a prayer that is said during the night before (kol Nidre) that lists all of the sins that we are praying for, and then some the prayer is lovingly referred to as ‘Ashamnu’, as with all poems taking the first line as its title.  You pray in Hebrew, and with each word, tap your right fist against your heart.

 

Yom Kippur is a solemn Holiday, the day for reflecting on yourself and the year that has passed, and looking forward to the year coming forward.  It’s a reset button.  The last year is over, you have repented, you have apologized, you have done your best to take back for the sins that you have done.  It is time to start over again, to try and live your life better this year than you did the last.  Sometimes, in all of the hype and talk about the holiday, that bit gets lost.  A lot of people, and yes i’m guilty of this, talk about Yom Kippur and the fasting, the 24 hours of deprivation.  But it’s also 24 hours of introspection, cleansing, and it can be both solemn and joyous.

 

But I’m getting into some other territory here that is better left for another time.

 

Suffice to say that it is a New Year and I have a new outlook on life. I will be tackling the world as though it is mine already.  Ain’t nothing going to stop me now.

Challah

So, I’ve been toying with the idea of making this blog something of a food thing.  I talk about my food, I post pictures and recipes and make you all jealous.

 

But I thought that might be a bit cruel of me. Plus, I just can’t seem to get myself organized enough to make this blog look the way I want it to look.  At least, not just yet.  So, You are going to be subjected to my randomness while I try to make things work out.

 

that being said, today, we are going to make bread. Challah bread to be exact.  what is Challah?  Challah is a traditional Jewish egg bread.  My family version is made with honey and we often add raisins to the braids.  But the bread that we are making today is not the raisin kind.  Challah is traditionally braided for most normal occasions, like the Sabbath.  But on Rosh Hashanah the Challah is braided and then formed and baked into a circle to symbolize the never ending circle of life.  Challah is typically eaten plain, although it can be slathered in butter and drizzled with honey.  Some places will even use Challah as French toast!  Madness (delicious madness!)

 

So, now that the talky talky part is over, let’s start with making the ingredients!

 

 

What you need is flour, water (not pictured), sugar, yeast, eggs, salt, honey, and vegetable oil.  Don’t worry about the amounts yet, we’ll get to those in a little bit.

 

In one bowl, you take your sugar, lukewarm water and your yeast, and you combine them in a process called ‘blooming’.  I learned that from watching Emeril.  A long time ago.  Basically, you make certain the sugar is dissolved and the yeast is well mixed in. Let it bubble and double until the combination looks frothy and foamy. Like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, in another mixing bowl, combine your hot water, salt, oil, and honey.  let it cool down just slightly and then add in your eggs.  Beat until well combined.  It will be a bit frothy.    And look like this:

 

 

Once this is done, your yeast (if you did it right) should be bubbly and frothy and yummy.  Just pour the yeast into the liquids and combine.  Then, you start adding your flour, 1 cup at a time.

 

Eventually, your dough will start to form.

 

 

From there, turn your dough out onto a floured surface and knead until elastic and fun.  Yes, you will need more flour.  I never really use all of the flour that the recipe calls for, but I do use most of it.  I’ve found that hand mixing the dough uses less flour than when I used to make this in a mixer.

 

Your dough should be elastic and smooth.  At this point, take another bowl (yes there are a lot of bowls used in this. I’m up to four total) and grease it up. I use vegetable oil.  Place your ball of dough into the bowl and make sure that all sides of the dough are also covered in oil.

 

 

At this point, I cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and set it up to rise.  Usually on top of the microwave near the oven.  The oven which I’ve had warming up to about 100C.  That’s not going to be the baking temperature, but I wanted the kitchen to be nice and warm.

 

 

Leave the bread to rise for about an hour or until double in bulk.  Now comes the fun part.

 

On your still floured surface, knead out your dough one more time for about five minutes.  Then, you split your dough into 3 equal parts.  Or as equal as you can get them.

 

 

No, they’re not really even or equal.  Nobody’s perfect.  I like to divide the dough naturally, but I suppose you could slice it into three equal parts. I just don’t like to be mean like that.

 

Prepare to braid!

 

 

I am anticipating any and all jokes and finding none of them to be funny.

 

Braid away!  Just like you would braid hair. If you’re a guy and trying to do this and you don’t know how to braid hair? Well, I am unfortunately not the best tutor for that type of instruction. Youtube might help?

 

 

Now, once again you let your bread rest for an hour, or until double in size.  What happens then?  Well for me, I like to use a milk wash, but most recipes will tell you to use an egg wash.  Either way is up to you.  But you wash your bread.  And then you put it into the oven at 325 F ( I don’t know my conversions very well) for about 45 minutes.  The bread should be golden brown and sound hollow when it comes out of the oven.

 

 

And that, my loves, Is how to make Challah.  And now, the Recipe!

 

 

Honey Challah (all measurements are in US terms)

4.5-5 cups of flour

1/4 cup lukewarm water

1.5 packets of yeast, or 1.5 tbsp yeast

1 cup hot water, not boiling

1 tsp salt

3 eggs

3 tbsp honey

2 tbsp oil

 

–In a small bowl combine lukewarm water, sugar, and yeast together. Set aside until doubled, about ten minutes.

–Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine hot water, salt, honey, and oil together. Let cool slightly. Add in eggs. Beat to combine.

–Stir yeast mixture into liquid mixture until just combined.

–Begin adding flour into liquids one cup at a time.  Dough should form easily and begin to pull away from sides of the bowl like a sticky mess. Add more flour until stirring with anything other than your hands is not an option.

–Flour a clean surface and turn out dough onto flour.  Continue to add flour to dough as necessary, kneading as you go.

–Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.  time vary but approximately 6 minutes.

–You will most likely have flour leftover, do not worry, this is normal, save it to the side.

–Oil a large mixing bowl and place your doughball inside the bowl, coating it all over with oil.  Cover with a damn cloth and let rise for one hour in a warm place.

–Dough should be double in volume. gently knock it down and turn out onto the still floured surface.  Knead for about five minutes more and then divide into three equal (or as equal as possible) portions.

–Shape three portions into long rolls, lay them out side by side on your counter and pinch one end together.  Braid and pinch the final end.

–Place braid onto your cookie sheet and cover once again with a damn towel. allow to rise another hour or until double in bulk. Preheat your oven at this time to 325 F.

–top with a wash. Egg and water, egg and milk, just milk, whatever you desire.

–Place bread into the oven for 45 minute, or until golden. Bread should sound hollow when tapped.

–Slice, butter, honey drizzle, enjoy. Share with family and friends, if you feel like it.

 

 

There are variations with raisin filling, but that will come at a later point.  For now, enjoy your challah!