As a child I couldn't tell the difference between Pessah and Rosh Hashana, for on both these festivals my family held a Seder. Furthermore, prayers and blessings were recited in a mixture of Judeo-Arabic and Hebrew; I knew very little of the first and had no knowledge at all of Hebrew at the time. Upon arriving in Israel at age 10, I realized a few things: not all Jews were from Tunisia, most of them had very different traditions than ours and in those different traditions, the term "seder" was connected only with Pessah. In our home we celebrated two Seders: one at Pessah with the traditional spread of matza, bitter herbs, haroset, boiled eggs, roasted shankbone and karpas, and then there was the other Seder, the one I preferred, - a real festival of tastes and smells and colors - on Rosh Hashana. In place of my Mom's usual strict order of dishes, where salty always came before sweet, on that special evening we would enjoy an incredible mixture of salty and sweet, meat, fish and fruit - and all served in reverse order. The Rosh Hashana Seder is a round-up of disparate items for which someone in the vague past composed special blessings. Since then, Tunisian Jews have enjoyed, year after year, making their way through the special Seder symbols, as the person leading the Seder - usually the head of the family - says the blessing over each item. The entire ritual jumps between Judeo-Arabic and Hebrew and back. For example, upon eating a piece of fried pumpkin, we recite yistalku oivenu mipanenu (may our enemies depart). Pumpkin is called salka in Judeo-Arabic, not to be confused with the Hebrew word selek (beet). Instead, selek is attributed to spinach, which we are served in an omelette following the fried pumpkin, and before the yitamu kol oivenu (may our enemies reach their end) blessing, which is recited upon eating a garlic omelet. So what do we have? A fried piece of pumpkin, a spinach omelet and a garlic omelet, accompanied by blessings for "the departure of our enemies," "the end of our enemies" and finally "the disappearance of our enemies." Confused? You ain't heard nothing yet. Now we move on to the central portion of the Seder where we eat a piece of cow's head meat asking to become as "the head and not the bottom," and a piece of calf heart, asking God to open our hearts to Torah knowledge. Next we eat beans and recite a blessing that we shall reproduce like lubia (the word for beans in both Judeo-Arabic and Hebrew). In between, we eat sesame seeds, also to encourage the birthrate, reciting shenarbeh kasumsum (we shall multiply as sesame seeds). And then we eat a piece of fried fish and ask that we multiply as the fish of the sea. After securing wishes for bounty, we move on to quality. Raising a spoonful of pomegranate seeds, we ask that our merits may be as plentiful as them. From there, we move on to the dates, where we recite "may the righteous flourish like the date palm," and then to the fig, where we ask that we shall have a year as sweet as the fig. A piece of lung meat introduces the next blessing that the coming year will be as light (the Hebrew word for light, "kal," also means easy) as a lung, followed by the generic borei pri ha'etz (to the Creator of the fruit of the tree) over eating an olive, and finally the quintessential Rosh Hashana blessing asking for a sweet New Year, as we dip apples in honey. The discovery of an apple in honey as the sole symbol for the New Year stunned us upon arrival in Israel. The use of figs, pomegranate, dates, sesame seeds and olives was a way for us to preserve, through centuries of exile, the sweet taste of the species of the land of milk and honey. The many blessings connected with procreation reflect the profound concern of the exiled communities not to disappear, while the yearning for mitzvot, Torah knowledge and prosperity is an ongoing wish. "As long as we are in exile," my father used to tell my mother each year, "the most important thing is to keep in mind the glory of our past and the promise of our future." Today, the tradition is safe. Our friends and family, who hail from various Jewish communities, celebrate with us each year the Rosh Hashana Seder. They have learned to transition from fish to spinach, from pomegranate to lungs and heart, from beans to apples dipped in honey. After making our way through these symbols, we share a traditional, delicious meal, which has become even more rich and varied over the years. To our family's traditional spicy fish , we have added gefilte fish; to my Mom's chicken soup we have added matzo balls and joining the honey cookies now is a typical Ashkenazi plum compote. May we all have a sweet New Year, filled with blessings and rich traditions.

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