I have a slight problem at Rosh HaShanah.
Although I set out the most beautiful apples and a bowl of honey on our holiday table each year, I don’t like the taste of traditional bee honey. No offense to the bees, but it’s just too pungent and sharp for me.
I never gravitate toward recipes that include honey when I cook or bake, making baklava, sopaipillas, flan, and the like nish fir mir (not for me). Nonetheless, apples and honey provide a brilliant symbol for a sweet new year, and one that has many different explanations.
Here are just a few:
- ReformJudaism.org explains, “Apples were selected because in ancient times they became a symbol of the Jewish people in relationship to God. In Song of Songs, we read, ‘As the apple is rare and unique among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved [Israel] amongst the maidens [nations] of the world.’”
- “The Torah,” according to JTA, “describes Israel as eretz zvat chalav u’dvash, the land flowing with milk and honey, although the honey was more than likely date honey.”
- According to another article, “Jewish spirituality is a delicate marriage of…two forces. Apples [which go bad very quickly] represent the modern world, the here and now, that fleeting moment in time we call the present. It is fresh today, stale tomorrow. Honey, on the other hand [which never goes bad], represents tradition, a force that is unchanging and constant, timeless and stable.”
Who can argue with any of these descriptions?
I recently discovered Bee Free Honee, a blend of organic apples, lemon juice, and cane sugar. It’s golden in color, sticky in texture, and sweet in flavor – and it will appear on our holiday table in just a few weeks. Because it’s made from apples, the company explains, it’s helping the bee population regain its health and numbers and can be enjoyed by vegans and those who are allergic to bee honey. (It does not, however, carry a kosher symbol.)
With my Rosh HaShanah problem solved, this year I will feast on apples and honey like most everyone else. I’ll also bake a scrumptious holiday dessert from among these many recipes – using this honey alternative as an exact replacement in all my baking and cooking.
One more thing: When you arrive home from services on erev Rosh HaShanah and you want a little pick-me-up, toast a slice of sourdough bread, spread it liberally with butter, top it with a few thin apple slices, and drizzle with your favorite honey
Now that’s a recipe for a sweet new year! B’tayavon! (Bon apetite!)