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New Symbolic Foods for Rosh Hashanah

September 14, 2017 | by David Kilimnick

Creative blessings and curses using fruits and vegetables.

Rosh Hashanah begins with a meal – we are Jewish after all – and tradition dictates that we should pull out a bunch of symbolic fruit and vegetables and ask God to make the coming year a good one. These are known as “simanim” or signs. I grew up with an apple in the honey and a pomegranate representing mitzvot. That is all my Ashkenazi upbringing prepared me for. In Israel though, it is different. In Israel we use fruit to curse out our foes.

We are a relaxed people, passive in nature, but you throw fruit and vegetables into the equation and we get very violent. When we summon God while eating gourds, we are not a people you want to mess with. Work in a rhyme and we are wiping out all evil beings. Work in a pun and decrees of judgment are raining down, peace ruling the world. And watch out if they start with alliterations. Crazy criminal counterattack country with kumquats is what I’m talking about.

One of the tables I was at last year pulled out a vegetable and said, ‘May it be Thy will…that their decrees be those of judgment.’ And then, they cut the fruit. I started picturing the horrors that carrots can do to people. With a Hebrew name whose root means ‘decrees,’ I was scared to eat. I didn’t want to know what the verdict of my digestion would be. I had nightmares about cucumbers and tomatoes. I didn’t eat Israeli salad for half a year. I was eating falafel with a pita, tahini, and that’s it. I couldn’t use Humus either. They said something about Humus and Hamas.

So we have the traditional signs in Hebrew, but what about simanim for the English speaker? Here are fruit and vegetables and some creative curses in English that I came up with to make your Rosh Hashanah more meaningful:

Curses with Fruit & Vegetables

Bananas- ‘May our enemies slip on the ground, like a banana that’s been split. And then be scattered, because they split.’ I feel that using the banana split line makes for a good substitute for a rhyme, and it is scary.

Broccoli- ‘May they be broken like broccoli, and have their stem separated from the rest of their tiny tree. And not to be able to mix with any vegetables because they are awesome by themselves.’ I like broccoli too much. Maybe if my enemies knew that, they wouldn’t be enemies.

Brussel sprouts- ‘May our enemies sprout like a brussel and never turn into a cabbage. But remain very tasty.’

Cantaloupe- ‘May all evil wonder, and not know whether or not they are a deer, like an antelope, when I am eating my cantaloupe.’

Celery- ‘May all evil get stuck with parents who give their kids peanut butter on celery, instead of candy.’

Corn- ‘May their hearts be torn, like when I rip into a corn.’ That sounds too much like a spell.

Eggplant- ‘May all enemies be confused like a plant that is called an egg. Thinking that they came from a chicken.’

Fennel- ‘May our enemies die like a dog in a kennel, that was forced to eat fennel, because their owners didn’t care about them.’

Kiwi- ‘May all of our enemies end up in New Zealand, because there aren’t that many Jews there, and it makes for decent cinematography.’

Leaves- ‘May our enemies make like trees and leaves.’

Lemons- ‘May life give them lemons.’ That is a curse for people who don’t know how to make lemonade. Sour people.

Naartjie- ‘May our enemies be stuck with oranges for a high fee, like a naartjie. And mandarin themselves in the eyes, and then…’ Got carried away with that South African fruit name.

Orange- Pulling together the trilogy of citrus… ‘May all evil have to listen to jokes about bananas that end with “orange you glad, I didn’t say banana,” with a life full of little kids that can’t tell jokes. Knocking on your door all day, with knock knock jokes. Who’s there? Orange you glad it’s me?’

Parsley- ‘May our enemies be stuck with no basil or oil for pesto, and no rosemary. A whole year of Passover, with just salt water and parsley.’

Pear- ‘May our enemies not dare to stare at a pear. Because they are tasty apples, and that would not be fair.’ Ahhhh!!!! Bring it on. The curses are rolling off my tongue.

Blessings with Fruits and Vegetables

As I don’t want you to have nightmares, here are some blessings that you can use:

Bananas- ‘May we all merit to be like a banana and enjoy ice cream without the banana split, with just the ice cream.’ That was a blessing from my heart.

Carrot- ‘May we all merit to have care in our lives, as a family member habit, just as the rabbit loves the carrot.’ Now I can eat carrots again.

Gourd- ‘May we merit to never be bored like a gourd. Like a gourd in our Sukkah, hung up by a string, a decoration to the world.’

Honeydew- ‘May honeydew be the dew of the land, all sticky…’ I couldn’t come up with a rhyme. We’ll try another. ‘I love you, like a honeydew.’ If you are looking to share Rosh Hashana with the love of your life, don’t use that one. You may lose them.

Israeli Salad- ‘May we all merit a very tasty Israeli salad, with onions and salt. May we all be a salad deserving of a ballad. Kol Od BaLevav…the soul of the Jew, Israeli and not pallid.’ I turned that curse into a blessing. I had to, for myself. I am very Zionistic. I don’t like the salad that much, but I want to be able to support my country and to not fear eating it.

Peach- ‘May all merit to go to the beach, and not get burned. May all merit to teach the ways of the world and not feel like we learned. May we all merit to eat a peach, tasty, not full of bleach, like a speech that has turned…’

Plum- ‘May we merit to run real fast, like a plum rolling down a hill. Not a drum rolling down a hill, that will stop when it lands on the flat side.’

Pomelo- ‘May we all be kind and sweet to our fellow, like a decent, not overly sour pomelo.’

Pumpkin- ‘May evil turn into a limpkin, a huge bird that enjoys a pumpkin. Not to fall asleep like a lumpkin, who heeds rhymes and turns into a bumpkin. Because nobody knows what that means.’

Star fruit- ‘May we all merit to see a shooting star, from our car, as we take a trip to a beautiful country not too far, on a plane, that serves star fruit in coach.’ Couldn’t use star fruit for a curse. It is too heavenly.

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