Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Jews of Rhodes Have Different Symbolic Foods for Rosh Hashanah

Don't be fooled into thinking these are cherry tomatoes. They are superbly crafted marzipan cherries, similar to the marzipan treats that the Jews of Rhodes make for Rosh Hashanah.

They are part of the Rhodes recipe for a sweet year. In fact, the Jews of Rhodes eat a variety of symbolic foods quite different from the menu we are accustomed to. In addition to marzipan they make a white, lemon-flavored fondant to symbolize purity (and I assume sweetness). Several foods are made in a round shape to represent continuity and wholeness. The lineup includes a festive ring-shaped bread, savory pies, pastries and round, stuffed vegetables.

Salt on the table for Rosh Hashanah? Never. Only sugar. I don't have to explain why. And then there the foods that the Jews of Rhodes avoid eating.  Anything sour or bitter is shelved until after the holiday. Similarly, food goods like dark raisins, black olives and eggplants are scratched off the list since their color is associated with mourning.

While I normally hesitate to write about the cooking customs of different holidays, I couldn't resist this time around. I love the symbolism of the Rhodes Rosh Hashanah table. Tell your children and students about it.  Maybe they can come up with additional ideas.

Marzipan photo credit

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