9.29.2008

Shana Tova! Happy New Year!

One thing we've learned from traveling around the world is that Israelis are ubiquitous - they're everywhere. Including Chennai!

Last week at a committee meeting I met another woman who just arrived in town. In our quick introduction we exchanged names, arrival dates, and previous locations. After hearing we just came from Israel she asked the tell-tale question, "Are You Jewish?" In the next thirty seconds she gathered our information, made a shiddoch for her son, and told us that we were spending Rosh Hashanah dinner with her family and some friends of theirs. Well okay then.

Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year. The celebration of this holiday is marked with solemnity, as it is the day on which the whole world is judged for the coming year. Traditionally we eat apples dipped in honey, a symbol of our wish for a sweet new year. However, at our dinner tonight, we also ate dates and pomegranates, pumpkin, spinach, and leek latkes, and bread sprinkled with sugar. We said prayers I hadn't heard as our hosts were Sephardic Israelis, with traditions far deeper than I had been exposed.

Our dinner group started off small. Four Jewish families (three of which were Israeli), and a close Indian couple of the hosts. By the time we left, the table was crammed with Italians, Indians, Canadian, and American couples, all wanting to ring in the Jewish New Year with a bowl of chicken soup with kreplach, home made gefilte fish, Moroccan chicken and fish, Israeli salads, and sweet wine. It was a wonderful evening filled with warmth, new friends, and a hint of familiarity.

L'Shana Tova Tikatev V'taihatem. May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.




The hosts table - clearly not large enough for everyone who joined! ~
The Prayer Book...



Home made gefilte fish... just like mama used to pour out of a jar!

39 comments:

trashalou said...

Well! I must say I have never been inscribed before! And for a whole year too! Thanks.

Diane Mandy said...

What a wonderful post! Shana Tova! Happy New year to you, too.

The Mom said...

Sounds like a wonderful time!!

Please tell me what is on that plate! ;)

Kat said...

I am always amazed by the abilities of expats to find each other. Or of people with similar backgrounds/interests to find each other. How cool that you found another Jewish family. And one from where you just left. Happy New Year to you!

Mom24 said...

Have a happy new year. I hope it's full of wonderful things big and little. I'm preparing our Rosh Hashanah celebration right now.

Hairline Fracture said...

Happy New Year! I loved hearing about the traditional dinner (except I must say my mouth is not watering to try the gefilte fish!)

Hairline Fracture said...

After I made that comment about the fish, I looked it up on Wikipedia and it doesn't sound too bad.

Robin said...

Shana tova u'metuka. Wishing you a happy and sweet year, full of love, joy, health, and peace.

Jen said...

Happy New Year to you. It looks like you had a great time. Thanks for the education. It is really cool learning about other cultures and beliefs.

leezee52 said...

Your dinner sounded wonderful! We are going to our New Years dinner now which is Sephardic and we have all kinds of goodies!

Shana Tova!


Lee :)

Kelly said...

Happy New Year!!

Sounds like you've arrived in a very supportive community! What a great way to start off the New Year!!

anymommy said...

It sounds wonderful. I long to be more familiar with these traditions. Happy New Year!

Young Creations said...

Happy Happy New Year
Lauren

Simple Answer said...

Happy New Year! What a way to spend it - around a table with all new friends!

Andrea said...

Sounds wonderful. Happy New Year!
I worked as a nanny for a Jewish family back in college and they included me in this holiday. It was really something amazing to be a part of.

karey m. said...

so nice to find these little connections, isn't it?

karey m. said...

so nice to find these little connections, isn't it?

Kash said...

Happy Rosh Hashana! I love Gelfite fish! I cannot believe you are eating it in India however. Glad to know you found others to share your holidays with!

Heidi said...

So cool. I wish my kids could experience different things. That sounds like you had a great time.

mommaof4wife2r said...

so pretty...and i love that you shared the pics. fun

C said...

That's great! I'm sure it's nice to meet people that you share things in common with when you're living on the other side of the world.

I'm not Jewish (and don't really know a lot about the culture) but I study Kabbalah and we "celebrate" Rosh Hashanah by reflecting on the past year, and thinking about what seeds we want to plant in the coming year. I think it's a beautiful holiday of consciousness and positive energy. I think there are so many beautiful, meaningful traditions in the Jewish faith, and I would love to learn more about them.

Happy New Year! :)
~Christy
Heavy on the Caffeine

Tenakim said...

Sounds like fun and such rich history and tradition. In my recent struggles with Catholicism, I told my husband I want to convert to Judeaism- he thinks I'm nuts, but I'm serious- I have my reasons!

G in Berlin said...

Shana Tovah to you and your family as well. We ate at Chabad last night and it was wonderful: hordes of other children for the girls to play with and run around with while we could actually chat with our table mates. It was so strange to me to have pomegranates and carrots and dates on the table but we enjoyed them!Your gefilite fish look better than our fish cakes were to my Ashkenazi palate.

Rhea said...

Shana Tova back at ya!! Cool pictures.

angie said...

How wonderful that you got to bring in the new years with families with your same beliefs, good food and a prayer book. Shana Tova!

Brian said...

I'm an FSO hopeful(should be added to the register any day now, and will likely start A-100 in January) and was hoping you might be able to tell me a bit about Chennai. I've seen it on old bid lists several times, and think it sounds quite interesting. I'd welcome your general thoughts on life in the city, and would appreciate if you could please address the issue of safety for women. Is it safe enough for a 20-something woman to make her way around alone during the day? I, myself, have spent a fair amount of time in rough, underdeveloped spots, but my fiance hasn't - we'd like to bid on spots where she'd feel comfortable on her own during the day. Thanks so much. I've really enjoyed browsing your blog.

Brian Manning
manning08 at gmail.com

Mrs4444 said...

Happy New Year to you, too :)

Nap Warden said...

You know I gotta ask...what the heck is gefilte fish???

Michelle said...

I work with a lot of Jewish people. It's interesting to hear how different religions celebrate. Did you do the emptying of your pockets or the breaking of the dishes?

G in Berlin said...

Interesting. I have never heard of either emptying of pockets or breaking of dishes. Hard to believe that I missed traditions of my own group- what area would those traditions be from?

mary said...

Yay! I'm happy you're able to spend the holiday with some new friends.

Jenn P. said...

You are having so many great experiences!

Emily said...

Happy new year!

Tara R. said...

Happy New Year! Your dinner sounds wonderful.

Michelle said...

Happy New Year to you and your family! Isn't that wonderful how it worked out - meeting a new friend just in time to celebrate a holiday together!

WheresMyAngels said...

I always wonder what gefilte fish taste like but don't have the guts to try it...yet.

Thanks for explaining your new year. I love to learn new things.

Eve Grey said...

mmm, that feast sounds deliscious. I have always wanted to try gefilte fish.

American in Norway said...

Looks like a blast! See I can learn something everyday... Where you been chic? You have been MIA & I am missing my updates!
Thanks for the bloggy love on my SITS day! : )

Hyphen Mama said...

That sounds just wonderful! I love how you continue to meet people and make new friends in a foreign country, and here I sit in the same place for 10 years and know only a few of my neighbors!! You inspire me!

Happy New Year.

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