Sunday, August 25, 2013

Before Rosh Hashanah Begins Tunisian Jews Get Ready for Yom Kippur

For Tunisian Jews Yom Kippur is not for the Faint-Hearted! That's precisely why they have developed a unique pre-Rosh Hashanah custom. It will remind you of the post Succot tradition of tacking full cloves into the Etrog in order to turn it into a creative Havdalah spice.

Here's the deal. Tunisian Jews are mindful of the fact that fasting can affect one's physical well being, to the point of dizziness and fainting. Therefore, before Rosh Hashanah they take a quince fruit, roll it in ground spices, wrap it in a towel and let it sit covered until Yom Kippur. By the time Yom Kippur rolls around the same beautiful yellow quince is now brown, and let's face it, pungent! The strong odor helps people get through the fast day, and makes the day go by fast.

I have no idea what becomes of the quince once the fast is broken. Perhaps it becomes part of a pile of compost? Maybe it's used for Havdalah? But that's not the point. What's wonderful about this custom is that it can provide children with a meaningful and fun activity. It will make them feel part of the Yom Kippur tradition, even if they are not fasting. Seeing that they are creating a home-made "revival" fruit for the adults they love so much -- be it parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles -- they will also inadvertently tap into the ancient tradition of viewing a quince as the fruit of love.
You gotta love this custom. Happy quince hunting.

Quince photo credit

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