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Our new High Holiday lesson plan is already making waves! Students learn about the tradition of symbolic foods in Jewish communities around the world, including multilingual wordplay. They write their own Yehi Ratzon blessings using English puns: “May we have a super year” (soup), “May the year start off with pizzazz” (pizza). And they compete in a MasterChef activity, preparing new dishes using at least three of the traditional symbolic foods.
The winning dishes in one Jewish youth group's MasterChef competition, using green beans, carrots, dates, apples, and honey.
How do Jews around the world greet each other for the new year? Many use Hebrew greetings, such as "Shana tova" (good year), "Tizku leshanim rabot" (may you merit many years), or "L'shana tova tikatevu v'tekhatemu" (for a good year you should be inscribed and sealed). In addition, there are many Rosh Hashanah greetings using words from the local Jewish language.
In Arabic-speaking countries from Yemen to Syria to Morocco, Jews spoke a variety of the local dialect, enhanced by many Hebrew words. Often, men and women spoke Judeo-Arabic differently, as we see in these Rosh Hashanah greetings from southwestern Morocco.
Women: יכּון עליךּ לעאם מבארךּ -
ikun ʕlik l-ʕam mbark
Men: מועד טוב - maʕid tob
Judeo-Arabic from Taroudant, Morocco
Bukharian / Judeo-Tajik
Bukharian, also known as Judeo-Tajik or Bukhori, is a language in the Persian family originally spoken by the Jewish communities of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. A Bukharian Rosh Hashanah greeting in three writing systems:
Soli nav mo(bo)rak boshad
סאָלי נוו מבּאָרךּ בּאָשד
Соли нав муборак бошад
Have a blessed new year.
Romaniote Jews, centered in Ioannina but found in several locations throughout Greece, spoke Jewish varieties of Greek. Here's a modern Judeo-Greek new years greeting, from an article about a woman from Volos and her Rosh Hashanah food traditions
Chronia polla, kai kali chronia
Many years and good years
Until the 20th century, Jews in Italy spoke various local Jewish dialects, including many Hebrew words. In Judaico-Romanesco, the Roman dialect, a general holiday greeting is bon monghedde (good holiday - the ayin in mo'ed is pronounced "ng"). Here's a Rosh Hashanah-specific greeting alluding to the Yehi Ratson blessings, courtesy of Micaela Pavoncello, who leads Jewish Roma Walking Tours.
Che sia un anno di testa e non di coda
May it be a year of head and not of tail
Jews in the Kurdish region of Iran spoke Jewish Neo-Aramaic. Here's a Rosh Hashanah greeting in the Sanandaj dialect, also known as Hulaulá.
Shatakhún brikhtá hawyá
שתוכון בריכתא הויא
Your year blessed be
Juhuri / Judeo-Tat
Jews in Dagestan and Azerbaijan, known as "Mountain Jews," speak Juhuri, also known as Judeo-Tat, which is related to Persian. In most communities, Jews have shifted to other languages, but Juhuri is still the primary language in one Jewish town, Qırmızı Qəsəbə, Azerbaijan. Here's a Juhuri Rosh Hashanah greeting used in multiple regions.
Miⱨid Ruşəşunə ombarək bu. Xubə, şirinə sal gərdo!
Happy Rosh ha-Shana holiday. May the year be good, sweet!
Jews in Iran spoke various regional languages from the Median language family, such as Judeo-Yazdi, Judeo-Kashani, and Judeo-Isfahani. In the 20th century, most acquired standard Persian, but they continued to use influences from their previous languages, especially Hebrew words. Here's a Rosh Hashanah greeting sequence from the Tehran Jewish community in the late 20th century.
Moadim shālom; [Response:] sad sāl be sālhāye khoob
Times of peace; 100 years of good years
Ladino / Judeo-Spanish is spoken throughout the former Ottoman Empire: Greece, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, etc. See also a Ladino Rosh Hashanah seder from the Seattle Rhodes community.
Anyada buena, dulse i alegre
אנייאדה בואינה, דולסי אי אליגרי
A good, sweet, happy year
Ladino from Sarajevo, Bosnia
Carrots and cabbage soup are traditional Rosh Hashanah foods in Yiddish-speaking communities because of wordplay: mern means both "carrots" and "to multiply" (as in be fruitful and multiply in the new year), and kol mit vaser (cabbage with water) sounds like kol mevaser (voice proclaiming), a harbinger of good news and the world to come. Here's a Yiddish new year greeting.
A gut gebensht yor
אַ גוט געבענטשט יאָר
A good, blessed year
Eastern Yiddish from Vilnius, Lithuania
Continue viewing our High Holidays exhibit: