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New foods, and new attitudes, for a new year.
Food Food Fruit

Each year I am struck by the many feelings I have about the meaning of Rosh Hashanah. First and foremost, it is a time of hope. The first words of our Torah reading tell us that G-d remembered Sarah and blessed her with a child; the birth of a child is a clear indication that the world will continue.

It is also a time of renewal and repurpose. We request forgiveness for our shortcomings and then move forward with renewed purpose and commitment to be better, to do better. We go forward with this clean slate, so to speak, and, I was taught, there is never a time when a person is not forgiven or not allowed redemption.

We are also reminded that it is never too late to change. In college, for a philosophy seminar, I read Rambam’s “The Guide for the Perplexed.” I remember one concept which echoed advice my dad had always given me: think long and hard before you leap. Rambam explained that people don’t do well with sudden change; they do better if they approach things slowly and methodically.

So how does all this tie in to the food we eat? 

We are always “on a diet.” We are always changing what we eat and, for the most part, that is a good thing. We now know that one culprit in our battle with weight may be the high fructose corn syrup that is hidden in so many foods — it may be the Diet Coke we consumed by the gallon, thinking we were being “good” by skipping the sugar.

We follow the food of the week trends, from kale (surprise! no one really likes kale, we just eat it to feel virtuous) to beans to micro greens, green tea, green smoothies and more. We’d all much rather have a brownie, but that is on the food list that has a big, huge “X” on it. We often dive headfirst into a “cleanse,” or a new diet, only to feel the sting of failure when we succumb to that donut. Remember, however, as Rosh Hashanah teaches us, there is always a chance to start again.

We can — and should — approach dietary changes slowly and methodically. Think about the healthful foods we like and use more of them each meal, each day, each week. Then think about the less healthful foods we eat, and try to lessen the frequency with which we eat those. Simple and methodical.

All the knowledge we need to help us eat a balanced, healthy diet is in the Torah and the words of our teachers. Take things slowly, make small changes, absorb them and, even after a slip, forgive yourself and go forward. 

Our New Year has much to teach us about not only how we live our lives, but also about the food we eat. Slow and methodical. Reasoned and forgiving. Shanah Tovah! 

Note: There are many new kosher cookbooks published this time of year. I hope these adapted recipes encourage you to support our kosher cooks and try their delicious recipes. Remember, cookbooks make wonderful Rosh Hashanah hostess gifts.