By MJL Staff
(My Jewish Learning via JTA) — Invited to someone’s house for a Rosh Hashanah meal and looking for an appropriate gift? In addition to the always appreciated flowers or bottle of wine, here are some other must-have (or must-give) items for the Jewish New Year.
If you’re drawn to the edible items on this list, we recommend you check ahead of time whether your host keeps kosher or has other dietary restrictions.
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year after all, and every year needs a calendar. While many, if not most, people rely on digital calendars for day-to-day scheduling, a pretty wall calendar makes a nice decoration and can help keep the household organized. Most Jewish calendars sold in the United States list secular dates as well as Hebrew ones (including all the holidays, of course), and run through the end of the next Gregorian year. (So one that starts with Rosh Hashanah in 2017 will last you until December 2018.) You can find a wide selection online and in Judaica stores and bookstores.
Someone with an artistic bent or who enjoys the stress relief that comes with coloring might enjoy a coloring-book calendar featuring intricate Judaic motifs such as Jewish stars and Hanukkah menorahs. And one from New York’s Jewish Museum showcases a variety of paintings, sculptures and ceremonial objects from its collection.
If your host invited you over for a home-cooked meal, he or she probably likes to cook. The four books listed here were published within the last couple of years, so there’s a good chance your host doesn’t yet own them — and what better than a cookbook to subtly convey to your host that you’d love more holiday meal invitations? (Find more Jewish cookbook suggestions here.)
“Modern Jewish Baker: Challah, Babka, Bagels & More” is written by Shannon Sarna, the editor of The Nosher food blog, part of the 70 Faces Media family that includes My Jewish Learning. In this gorgeous book, she pays homage to Jewish baking traditions while re-invigorating them with modern flavors and new ideas.
The mother-daughter team of Gabrielle Rossmer Gropman and Sonya Gropman in “The German-Jewish Cookbook: Recipes and History of a Cuisine” features recipes for German-Jewish cuisine as it existed in Germany before World War II, and as refugees later adapted it in the United States and elsewhere. The dishes are a departure from better-known Eastern European Jewish fare and focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Israeli baker Uri Scheft’s “Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking” offers sweet and savory recipes for European, Israeli and Middle Eastern favorites.
For vegan cooks — or those who often have a vegan family member or guest at their table — “The Superfun Times Vegan HolidayCookbook: Entertaining for Absolutely Every Occasion” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz offers meat- and dairy- and egg-free recipes for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (break-the-fast), as well as dishes for a variety of other Jewish and non-Jewish holidays.
It is traditional to dip apples in honey on Rosh Hashanah, and a special honey dish can add extra beauty to the practice. We like a stainless steel and glass one that says “Shana Tova Umetuka” (a good and sweet new year) in Hebrew and a Rosh Hashanah apple plate and honey dish set with a pomegranate design available in red, blue and gray.
Why dip good apples and challah in mediocre honey? The Savannah Bee Company, a gourmet honey purveyor, sells a variety of beautifully packaged artisanal honeys, including several variety packs. Or encourage your host to sample some raw honeycomb. The company also sells numerous other honey-based products, like body lotions and soaps. All their honey is KSA kosher-certified.
For Rosh Hashanah, Zingerman’s, a Michigan deli and mail-order gourmet superstore, bakes its own honey cakes, round challahs, mandelbrot and rugelach, and sells an array of gourmet honeys from around the world.
Love marzipan? Try Rosh Hashanah “Marzipops.” A gift set of these marzipan lollipops contains 10 lollipops: two each of a honeypot, a red apple, a challah, a pomegranate and a shofar. They are gluten-free and vegan, but are not certified kosher.
Barbara’s Gifts is based in Israel but ships to the United States. Its Rosh Hashanah gift box contains a pomegranate hand towel, pomegranate challah cover, Jewish calendar tea towel, pomegranate-shaped trivet, pomegranate fabric placemats, a pomegranate notepad and set of Rosh Hashanah greeting cards.
If your host likes scented candles, try an apples-and-honey one. Just make sure you don’t try to eat it after reading the description: “Brown sugar glazed apples blended with warm cinnamon, golden clove and grated nutmeg wrapped in sweet caramel honey drizzles and hints of pure maple syrup.” You can also find a variety of pomegranate-scented candles here.
Off the beaten path
Who doesn’t need a Rosh Hashanah-themed smartphone cover/case? Luxlady offers some in various sizes for popular iPhone and Android models.
Children and adults alike will enjoy accessorizing with High Holiday-themed nail decals from Midrash Manicures.
Nothing quite right? Try searching for Rosh Hashanah on Etsy or visit The Sabra Patch, an Etsy-like online store for Israeli artists. Whatever you buy, best wishes for a sweet and Happy New Year!