This past Thursday, I went to the supermarket and got a lot of the chicken on sale, intending to come back the next morning for more since I bought the last two whole chickens. But life being as it is, I didn’t make it there on Friday morning, and instead did the last of the Rosh Hashana shopping Tuesday afternoon instead.
I was unpleasantly surprised to see that just four days later, the chicken was double the price of what I’ve been paying until now, but there are so many nice things about being in Israel for Rosh Hashana that I’d rather focus on them! (Unfortunately, food prices shooting up like this right before Jewish holidays was common in the US as well.)
Firstly, the focus of all the advertising in the entire city is on the holiday of Rosh Hashana. In the US, Halloween advertising is in full swing, but here it simply doesn’t exist. Although Karmiel is a predominantly secular city, it’s still a Jewish city, and signs everywhere proclaim, ‘Shana tova!. People everywhere – cashiers, bus drivers, people speaking casually in passing – are wishing one another a happy new year. I enjoyed hearing the woman behind me on the bus blessing whoever she was talking to on her cell phone with beautiful wishes for the coming year.
In the produce section of the supermarkets, the symbolic vegetables and fruits eaten on Rosh Hashana are prominently displayed. Honey cakes, grape juice,and other Rosh Hashana foods are on the aisle end caps. As I was choosing some guavas to use for our new fruit this year, I asked the woman across the aisle if they can be cooked or are only eaten fresh. She told me she eats them fresh, and then added that she’s buying them to have for her shechiyanu blessing (blessing on a new fruit) for Rosh Hashana. This, from someone not visibly religious at all!
Dd15 and dd16 were on the bus on their way to do some clothing shopping for the holiday when some spikey haired teenagers with piercings got on the bus. Imagine their delight when these teenagers went around the bus giving out Rosh Hashana notes and samples of apples and honey to the passengers!
The younger kids were walking down the sidewalk when they suddenly saw a balloon blowing in their direction. They ran to catch it, and a man passing by ran to catch another one for them, thinking it was theirs. There was writing on it, and they brought it to me to ask what it said. Apparently, a class of schoolchildren had done a pre Rosh Hashana activity, and had been asked to write their wishes for the coming year on a balloon. On the balloons we have are wishes for peace in the coming year, and a hope that G-d will send rain. A beautiful thing to see blowing around.
In the US, I lived in a very large Jewish community, a wonderful community filled with everything we needed for our Jewish life. Just a five minute drive from my home was the largest kosher supermarket in the US, where all the foods for Rosh Hashana would have been prominently displayed, the advertising would have focused on Rosh Hashana….but here it feels different. Here in Israel, we’re part of our people, living in our country.
Shana tova u’metuka – a good and sweet New Year – to you all, and may we all see revealed abundance and blessings in all areas of our personal and communal lives!