January’s secular New Year is filled with obligations everyone enjoys like
backwards counting, mass texts, and synchronized kissing in public. The Jewish
New Year, while a joyous time, can be a maze of social, familial, and
apple-related responsibilities that require more patience than waiting in the
bathroom line during High Holiday services.
Here are some things to keep
in mind to make sure your New Year goes from Rosh Hashan- “ugh!” to Rosh
For some Jews, Rosh Hashana marks one of the only
times of year they make it to the temple. It’s your yearly grand premiere, so
it’s time to stroll in like a majestic, Jewish peacock.
For men, keep it
classy with a form-fitting suit. Make sure your shirt is deeply unbuttoned and
that you have Star of David necklace-shaped tan lines, so that everyone knows
you care enough to still wear it on the beach. Also, it’s something that makes
you stand out, like a cool eye patch. That way when you casually wink at
Shoshanna from Sunday school with your one good eye, she’ll know you are a
I don’t know anything about women, so for a woman, probably
some kind of shiny belt? And at least one shoe? Seriously I know nothing about
You show up to evening services, and suddenly you
are neck and neck with hundreds of other sharply dressed Jews scrambling for the
good seats. It’s like that A-E-Pi free Matisyahu concert all over again! Where
exactly are those good seats?
You want to be far enough away from the front so
no one sees if you start to drift and your head hits the person in front of you.
You do want to be able to hear everything, like the exhilarating remarks from
the synagogue president at the end. You’re looking for a spot in the middle, to the
left. That way the rabbi won’t see you roll your eyes when he mentions iPods in
his sermon so everyone knows he’s cool.
Don’t even get me started on
people saving seats for someone “parking the car,” no one ever comes to claim
them. I say save three seats on either side of your family. If anyone asks, say
you drove multiple cars and you deserve a seat for each one that you
That way you have a buffer zone. When you’re called upon to turn
to your neighbors and say “Shana Tova!” you can avoid sweaty handshakes, and
you won’t need to make 20-30 seconds of Jewish-themed small talk.
It seems that apples gain magic powers during this time of year: you dip
them into something sweet, and you have a sweet new year. If that’s the case,
what happens when you dip apples into other things?
- For a rich new year:
- For a happy new year: On a clown
- To meet a nice, Jewish girl:
Old Birthright t-shirts
Conversely, if you dip your fingers into honey and then
rub it onto an apple, you get a sweet tan. That’s a little weirder than these
other ones, so you should probably avoid it.
can only mean one thing: “Where are the Jewish babies?” To avoid questions like
this, besides the old stealing-a-baby-and-pretending-its-yours technique, you
need to comment on the food as much as possible. Your parents will notice you’re
eating a lot, and this will please but more importantly distract them. Use
- “This gefilte fish just spun a dreidel in my stomach, and it
landed on gimel!”
- “These scalloped potatoes come from the land of milk and
- “There’s a bar mitzva in my mouth and this brisket just wrote me a
check for $18!”
Follow these tips and you’ll be wearing an eye patch, alienating
your neighbors in temple, and dipping apples into strange items, but your Rosh
Hashana will be truly special.