Monday, September 29, 2008

Cooking In The Eruv

What creates the flavor of your neighborhood? The ingredients: homes, families, location do not necessarily ensure a uniformity of taste. In my neighborhood, an Eruv with a deeply faithful Jewish population, the weekly devotions and annual celebrations are a distinctive spice that adds an exotic richness to our lives. While not participants in their beliefs, we value the depth of commitment our neighbors have to their religion.

Taste of Rosh haShana seemed to be a perfect opportunity to gain insight into this important holiday, and apparently about 75 others thought so too. Presented by Community Kollel of Dallas, the speakers, Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger and neighbor Barry Wernick hosted a fabulous discussion of food, song, God, meditation - and even a joke or two were plated up. I don't think I was the only shiksa in attendance, nor was the audience all white but we were all there to gain deeper understanding about the holiday that in the Jewish faith represents a "renewal" of life.

Food plays an important role in the Jewish religion, the weekly Shabat dinner and the multi-course annual Passover Seder is a connection to their heritage and a symbols of their faith. At Taste of Rosh haShana a long table was laid out, and after the speaker's presentations the guests were invited to stand and learn about the food and accompanying blessings. Dates are a hope that enemies and sinners will "disappear" and be no longer; carrots represent a deliverance from the decree of the Jew's sentence; the pomegranates many seeds represent a multitudinous quantity (of money, children, years); a fish head is a wish to become the head and not the tail; and apples dipped in honey represent the sweetness of the end of the drought, and survival for another year.

We have had several reasons in the last 20 years to move out of our neighborhood, bigger housing needs, shorter commute times were enticements to relocate. But we love the flavor of our little "hidden" area and have made other accommodations to make our lives work. So we're staying for now, because it just wouldn't be as delicious somewhere else.

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