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High Holidays

High Holidays: Food

(JNS) While everyone wants a traditional High Holiday meal, no one wants to spend a week shopping, chopping, boiling, and baking each dish. There’s really no need. With thousands of kosher convenience-food items available in markets, it’s easy to create sensational meals with minimum effort.

Also, the emphasis in contemporary kitchens is on healthier eating with more fresh produce. Instead of matzah-ball soup, serve a gazpacho. Include wedges of crisp Bosc or Asian pear along with apples to dip in honey. Gussie up already-roasted chicken with your own marinade, and end the meal with an apple cobbler mixed, baked and served in one dish.

Check out these recipes.

Make all for a complete Rosh Hashanah dinner or just one. You can also add a round challah, the traditional shape used for the Jewish New Year.



1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1½-2 cups bottled Bloody Mary mix*
Juice of ½ lemon
½ cucumber, peeled and cut in chunks
1 medium tomato, cut into 6 chunks
1 slice multigrain bread, torn in chunks
2 teaspoons honey
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
¼ cup basil leaves packed
Unpeeled cucumber slices for garnish (optional)

In blender or food processor, place all ingredients except salt, pepper and basil. Whirl 15 to 20 seconds at high for a desired texture. Pour into a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Shred the basil with scissors and stir in. Refrigerate overnight.

To serve: Pour into small glasses. Float 2 thin slices of cucumber on top (optional).
*May substitute 1½ cups vegetable juice with ½ teaspoon each dried basil, dried oregano and fresh ground pepper stirred in.



¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 pints tricolor cherry tomatoes, halved
1 rib celery with leaves, thinly sliced
1 cup basil leaves, finely shredded
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
½ cup pumpkin seeds

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, shake oil, vinegar and mustard to combine. Set aside. Place the green onions, tomatoes, celery and basil in a large serving bowl. Pour mustard dressing over and toss lightly to mix. Season with salt and pepper. Scatter pumpkin seeds over top. Serve chilled. May make a day ahead.



1 bunch parsley
1 bunch basil
½ bunch dill
1 (14 ½ ounce) can chickpeas, drained
1 cucumber, unpeeled and coarsely diced
¾ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Trim parsley stems. Pull leaves off basil and discard stems. Dill may be used without trimming. Rinse well in cold water. Spin dry all herbs in salad spinner. Place in food processor. Pulse to chop coarsely. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the chickpeas and remaining ingredients. Toss gently to mix. Serve at room temperature.

Note: May be made the day beforehand; cover and refrigerate.



½ cup pomegranate juice or juice from 1 large pomegranate
½ cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon bottled grated ginger or 1 teaspoon powdered
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 roasted chickens, quartered (use roasted chickens from your kosher market to make things easier)
Pomegranate seeds for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pomegranate juice, apricot preserves, lemon juice, ginger, salt and pepper in small microwave bowl. Heat on “High” for 18 seconds, or until preserves are melted. Check after 10 seconds. Stir to mix. Cool slightly. Arrange chicken in one layer in a baking dish. Pierce each piece 2 times with a fork. Pour the pomegranate mixture over top. Cover tightly with foil. Heat through in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes. Chicken will steam and absorb flavors. Serve garnished with pomegranate seeds (optional).



2 packages (approximately 5.7 ounce each) Near East couscous
½ cup currants
16-ounce package baby carrots, peeled
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon cumin or turmeric
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
½ cup finely snipped mint, divided

Prepare couscous according to package direction. Stir in currants. Cover and set aside to keep warm. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, cumin or turmeric, salt and pepper. Stir in ¼ cup mint. Set aside. In a large saucepan, cover carrots with boiling water. Bring to boil and cook for 10 minutes, or until fork-tender. Drain well. Transfer to a serving bowl. Pour olive-oil mixture over and stir gently to mix. Spoon the carrots over the couscous. Sprinkle remaining mint over to garnish. Serve warm. May be prepared a few hours ahead of time. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Reheat in microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, or until warm. Sprinkle mint over just before serving.



6 medium apples
1 stick (4 ounces) margarine, cut in 4 pieces
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
½ cup nondairy creamer
½ cup cold water
¾ teaspoon orange extract
10-12 walnut halves
1-2 tablespoons honey to drizzle

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Core and quarter apples. Do not peel. Cut into wedges about one-quarter-inch thick. Set aside. In an ovenproof dish, 11×7 inches, place margarine. Set in microwave to melt, 30 to 40 seconds, depending on microwave wattage. To the melted margarine add flour, sugar, nondairy creamer, water and orange extract. Stir to blend. Scatter apple wedges and walnuts over top, making sure to cover the batter. Do not stir. Drizzle with honey. Bake in preheated oven 45 to 50 minutes, or until nicely browned and bubbly at edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.



High Holidays: Children’s Books
A magical shoebox and animals from everywhere

By Penny Schwartz

BOSTON (JTA) – From an African warthog to swinging orangutans, animals from all corners of the planet are featured in two stories among a new crop of children’s books at the Jewish New Year that also includes a lyrical poem of the biblical story of Creation and a magical story about an ordinary shoebox.

And a bonus: An illustrated picture book tells the story of Regina Jonas, the German Jewish girl who followed her dream to become the first woman ordained as a rabbi.

Young ones can get a jump start on the new year by turning the pages on these entertaining and informative reads.

Rosh Hashanah ushers in the High Holidays on Sunday evening, Sept. 9.


Shani’s Shoebox

Written and illustrated by Rinat Hoffman; translated (from Hebrew) by Noga Applebaum
Green Bean Books; ages 4-8

Prepare to be enchanted! Shani’s Shoebox, a gently rhyming poem-story for Rosh Hashanah by the award-winning Israeli illustrator and children’s author Rinat Hoffman, will kick off the Jewish New Year on the right foot.

Shani’s “aba,” the Hebrew word for dad, surprises her with a pair of shiny new red shoes for Rosh Hashanah. Naturally she tosses aside the ordinary looking shoebox.

“It was only a box, after all; nothing more,” she says.

But on Yom Kippur, Shani finds the box hidden behind stuffed animals and the next day crafts it into a sukkah. During Hanukkah, a cat discovers the discarded box and uses it to stay warm in the winter. Season to season, the box takes on a magical quality, turning up in new guises and with new uses throughout a year’s worth of Jewish holidays.

The next Rosh Hashanah, when Shani’s father fills the box with a new pair of shoes — this time they are blue — Shani is reminded of the year’s adventures.

Hoffman’s colorful, animated illustrations draw in readers with vibrant energy. In one scene, as the family prepares the house for Passover, Shani is on a stool cleaning a mirror and her dad is sweeping. It’s refreshing to have a children’s story that depicts a father in everyday roles more commonly associated with moms, like buying shoes for his kids and cleaning the house.


Where’s the Potty on This Ark?

Kerry Olitzky; illustration by Abigail Tompkins
Kar-Ben; ages 1-4

Even on Noah’s Ark, the animals need to use the potty. Young kids will be delightfully surprised with this inventive spin on the biblical story of Noah, from the Book of Genesis. As Noah and his wife, Naamah, greet each of the animals onto the ark, Naamah makes sure they are comfortable.

“Be careful not to hit your head on the ceiling,” she warns.

The ark comes well designed, with big potties for the elephants and little ones for smaller friends. When a baby raccoon needs to use the bathroom, Mother Hen patiently guides the young one to learn how. The animals offer an empathetic lesson in taking care of one’s body, complete with a prayer. And off they sail on the ark as the rains begin.

Kerry Olitzky’s simple, lighthearted prose is paired well with Abigail Tompkins’ playful illustrations. The book makes a timely read during the High Holidays because the story of Noah is read in synagogues on the second Shabbat following Simchat Torah, when the cycle of reading the Torah begins anew.


Who’s Got the Etrog?

Jane Kohuth; illustrations by Elissambura
Kar-Ben; ages 4-8

In this brightly illustrated story for Sukkot, Jane Kohuth weaves a playful folk-like tale told in simple poetic verse. In her rural village in Uganda, under a bright and full milk-bowl moon, Auntie Sanyu is preparing for the fall harvest holiday when Jews build a hut called a sukkah where they eat, welcome guests and sometimes even sleep. Kids follow Auntie Sanyu as she decorates her sukkah and places a lulav, the bunch of green palm branches, and a bright yellow etrog, the lemon-like fruit, on a tray to be used in the holiday rituals by Auntie Sanyu’s animal guests. But Warthog loves the etrog so much, he doesn’t want to hand it over to the lion, parrots or giraffe. A young girl named Sara intervenes.

The story comes to life in Elissambura’s boldly colored, striking collage-style illustrations. The back page explains the history of the Ugandan Jewish community called the Abayudaya, and a glossary explains about the sukkah and lulav and terms like “Oy, vey!”


Regina Persisted: An Untold Story

Sandy Eisenberg Sasso; illustrated by Margeaux Lucas
Apples & Honey Press; ages 7-12

These days, when Jewish-American kids attend synagogue during the High Holidays, it’s not that unusual to have a female rabbi leading the congregation. Older kids may be fascinated to learn about Regina Jonas, the German Jew who in 1935, against many odds and strict gender roles, became the first woman ordained as a rabbi.

In this illustrated biography, which garnered a starred review from Kirkus, Sandy Eisenberg Sasso traces how Jonas persisted until religious authorities finally allowed her to take the exam to become a rabbi. Margeaux Lucas’ illustrations capture the period, with drawings of Berlin life. Several scenes convey the young Regina as a kind of Disney-like Belle, greeting peddlers at the market, and clutching a book, daydreaming, as she crosses the street.

The afterword tells of the tragic ending of Jonas’ life in 1944, where she was killed in the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. It would be nearly 40 years later until another woman, the American Sally Priesand, is ordained, in the Reform movement. Today there are nearly 1,000 women rabbis around the world, among them the book’s author, who herself was a trailblazer as the first woman to be ordained as a rabbi in the Reconstructionist movement. Eisenberg Sasso also is the award-winning author of the best-selling children’s book God’s Paintbrush.

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