In Talmud we learn about simanim—different foods that serve as portents for extra blessings at Rosh Hashanah. I do not understand the use of symbolic foods as a form of religious magic (theurgy) but I do see them as a way to spark dialogue and open our hearts towards blessings for the coming year. As part of Congregation Emanu-El’s, “Choose your own Rosh Hashanah spiritual adventure” we are offering congregants simanim kits. Each kit will have six different foods to add to your apples and honey and some instructions on how to create your own blessing.
Most of the traditional foods come from a play on words. For example, the word in Aramaic for pumpkin is kara which means read in Hebrew, so when we eat pumpkin we can bless that the reading of the next chapter in our lives be full of joy. Our synagogue caterer Rani Earnhardt will be preparing delicious and exotic symbolic foods for all congregants who are interested. Rabbi Harry and Rabbi Matt will share some blessings on the first night of Rosh Hashanah at a special candle lighting pre-meal Zoom encounter. Hopefully this exercise will get you in the right frame of mind to generate your own meaningful and creative blessings with your family. One way of understanding these symbolic foods is that they are road signs and indicators, that we are sending positive intentions even in the midst of a pandemic and that our paths forward are pathways of joy, peace and connectedness.
If you want your own simanim kit simply call the office at 250-382-0615 or email Zelda at email@example.com and let us know how many people with whom you will be sharing the kit so we can make sure you have enough goodies. The kits will be available for pick up at the synagogue on Sunday, September 13 between 2 and 4 pm.