My friend Rachel Krieger, yoga instructor (@yogawithintention) and co-founder of  Ladies of Business Rockaway Beach, saw my husband at the Little Bearz show at the Surf Club about a month back. “I wonder if Paula would be interested in co-hosting Rosh Hashanah with me?”, she asked. Matt responded without hesitation, “I don’t even have to check with her, I know she would love to do it!”

My husband was right. He knows that I like to think of myself as the Liza Minnelli of Rockaway Beach, and that I live for hosting parties. But this opportunity was a whole new realm. First, I was honored to be asked to host Jewish new year celebrations. Second, it would be a chance to learn about the culinary and other traditions of Rosh Hashanah. I later found out that Rachel had the idea because she attended my Easter Sunday brunch last spring, and thought sharing new experiences with people of different faiths was a beautiful way to connect, appreciate, be opened-minded with love and meet new members of our community. Wonderful, right? In a way, Easter is similar to Rosh Hashanah in that both holidays are meant for reflection and repentance and the promise of new beginnings and renewal.

Rachel’s mother Bobby (who’s amazing by the way!) was bringing much of the bounty – brisket, roasted sweet potatoes, challah loaves, honey, etc. Guests were bringing wine, matzo ball soup, and other offerings. I was making a roast chicken with vegetables and pomegranate apple coleslaw*. Since I didn’t have full responsibility of the entire feast, I had extra time. I wanted to bake an apple galette, because I learned that eating sweet foods symbolizes a wish for a “Sweet New Year.”

The schlepping around was done and the house was in order: the apple/pomegranate centerpiece was on the dining room table, glasses and plates were out, extra chairs were placed about and the food was warming in the oven. Rachel came over early. She wanted to teach me how to make a traditional noodle kugel. We softened the butter and cream cheese. The noodles just came out of the pot. We added the milk and final spices.  I opened the oven door and Rachel grabbed the heavy tray.  Her hands started to wobble and in a split second noodle kugel was dripping all over the oven and floor. Schmutz galore! Rags, paper towels, steam rising from the oven door, we mobilized and defused the kugel crisis. “I think it’s time to open some wine.” I said. Thankfully, she made so much that the amount spilled didn’t make much of a difference.


Our guests arrived and Evan began with the HaMotzi blessing (blessing over bread). We started noshing on apples, honey, dates and the challah (Jewish antipasto?). Galit brought new seasonal fruits and vegetables as an offering so the special blessing Shehechiyanu could be recited. Similar to Italian customs, food is the focus in most Jewish holidays celebrated in the home.  Dinner commenced and afterwards we sat around the table and shared our hopes and intentions for the new year. There were many new faces and I was happy to meet these new friends and share in the traditions of Rosh Hashana. Shanah Tovah!
*I’ve posted the apple pomegranate coleslaw, the apple galette, and Rachel’s noodle kugel recipe on The Glorified Tomato. Find them here

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