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Rosh Hashanah

A Sweet New Year

The holiday of Rosh Hashanah ushers in the start of the Jewish New Year (2002 corresponds to 5762). Unlike the customary American New Year's celebration that revolves around festive parties and the popping of champagne corks, the Rosh Hashanah celebration is a quiet, thoughtful, family celebration.

During Rosh Hashanah Jews reflect upon the year that's ending and focus on ringing in a "sweet new year". Families gather together for the holiday meal, which always includes sweet foods, many of which are tied to the fall harvest season. Most simply, the sweet part of the meal can be apples—the ultimate fall fruit—and honey. Honey cake and baked goods made with apples are also popular desserts for the two-day holiday.

In addition to apples and honey, common Rosh Hashanah foods include roast chicken, beef brisket, kugel (a noodle casserole), sweet potatoes, carrots, prunes and pumpkins. Challah, a rich, slightly sweet, egg bread is also served at the holiday meal and dipped in honey. For Rosh Hashanah, this bread isn't baked in its usual braided form, but in a circle, symbolizing the cycle of the year to come.

Many Jews make cherished family recipes during the holidays and the Lippert family is part of this tradition. Bebe Lippert's parents immigrated to the United States from Austria and made their home in the Bronx, New York. Bebe grew up in a large family in which all of the women were known to be exceptional bakers. She started making her mother's apple kuchen when she was young and passed down this delicious recipe to her daughter-in-law, who passed it on to her daughter, Marissa, who has kindly shared it with us. Make sure your New Year is sweet this year with Grandma Bebe's Apple Kuchen.

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