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High Holidays

Tart Pomegranate and Cherry Tonic

Chef Mark Reinfeld

In some families, it’s customary to enjoy pomegranates during the High Holidays because, according to legend, the number of seeds in the pomegranate reflects the number of good deeds you will do in the coming year. Another interpretation suggests that pomegranates contain 613 seeds, the same number of mitzvot (commandments) as are in the Torah.

Behold the heart-healthy mojito mocktail. So brightly delicious and refreshing! In general we shy away from prepared juices, but these two powerhouses are the exception.  Pomegranate’s tiny seeds hold lots of vitamin C, with proven immune boosting, tissue repairing, and cell protecting qualities, as well as two other powerful antioxidants well known to prevent disease and reduce inflammation. Cherry juice is not only known for its ability to reduce pain by lowering uric acid in gout or muscle soreness, but also is one of the few known substantial sources of melatonin.

2 sprigs mint leaves
⅔ cup pomegranate juice
⅔ cup tart cherry juice
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
⅔ cup sparkling water
Sweetener to taste

Yield: 16 ounces
Prep time: 10 minutes

  1. Place mint sprigs in a pitcher or in two glasses. Crush with a cocktail muddler or with your hands.  
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well before serving.

Variation: Go crazy and add a scoop of vegan ice cream for the float of your dreams. 

Reprinted with permission from The Ultimate Age-Defying Plan: The Plant-Based Way to Stay Mentally Sharp and Physically Fit (Da Capo Press/Hachette Book Group, 2019).

Mark Reinfeld is the 2017 Inductee into the Vegetarian Hall of Fame. He is a multi-award winning chef and author of eight books, including his latest, The Ultimate Age-Defying Plan. His last book, Healing the Vegan Way, was selected as the #1 book for Vegans in 2016 by Mark has over 25 years of experience preparing creative vegan and raw cuisine. Since 2012, he has served as the Executive Chef for the North American Vegetarian Society’s Summerfest. He has offered consulting services for clients such as Google, Whole Foods, Kroger, Danone, The Humane Society, Bon Appetit Management, Aramark, Sodexo, and more. Mark was the founding chef of The Blossoming Lotus Restaurant, voted “Best Restaurant on Kaua’i.”

His first cookbook, Vegan Fusion World Cuisine, has won 9 national awards including “Best Vegetarian Cookbook in the USA.” Mark is the recipient of’s Recipe of the Year Award and Aspen Center for Integral Health’s Platinum Carrot Award. Through his Vegan Fusion company, he offers consulting services, vegan and raw cooking workshops, a plant-based chef certification program, and chef trainings internationally. His two-part online culinary course, offered in conjunction with the Vegetarian Times, is available. 

Whether you’re traveling – for business or pleasure – during the High Holidays, studying at a college or university far from home, or otherwise not able to attend services where you usually do, can help you find a High Holiday community – wherever you are.

Whether you listen to these songs along or with others, may they lead you to thoughts of turning our hearts toward the rich opportunities the New Year brings, or perhaps a moment to reflect on the times we’ve “missed the mark” and not been our best selves.

Melon-Seed Drink (Pipitada)

Stella Cohen

This delicious, refreshing melon-seed drink has a subtle almond taste, perfumed with orange blossom water.

I simply adore this drink, as do most Sephardim I know. We’d usually just have pipitada to break the Yom Kippur fast as it helps rehydrate. This was customary in Sephardic communities from Rhodes and Salonica. Each year, I’d wonder why we didn’t make it more often – maybe because it takes time to collect enough seeds for the recipe. My mother religiously collected seeds from cantaloupes or other melons when in season.

For this recipe you need the seeds from about 4-5 melons. Wash the seeds well in a colander to remove all the fleshy parts and lay out to dry on tea towels for a day or two in the sun, or if weather does not permit dry them in a 95°C (200°F) oven for 10 minutes. Dried seeds can be stored in an airtight glass jar for up to 1 year.

1 cup sweet melon seeds
3 cups water
2 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
  • Grind the seeds to a fine powder in a food processor a day before you want to serve.
  • Put the ground seeds in cheesecloth, bring the corners together and tie securely. Fill a bowl with about 3 cups of water and immerse the ground seeds in their cheesecloth bag in the water. Leave in the fridge overnight. Squeeze the cheesecloth from time to time to release the milky essence from the seeds into the water.
  • Squeeze the cloth tightly to extract as much moisture as possible out of the seeds. Discard the seeds. Add the sugar and orange blossom water to the milky liquid and refrigerate in a pitcher. Serve chilled.

Reprinted with permission from Stella’s Sephardic Table: Jewish family recipes from the Mediterranean island of Rhodes © 2012 by Stella Cohen, The Gerald & Marc Hoberman Collection. Photography by Marc Hoberman.

Sephardic cuisine expert, artist, textile designer, and cookery writer, Stella Cohen is a passionate ambassador for the Jewish community, dedicating her life to the celebration, preservation, and education of Sephardic values and traditions. Stella’s heart lies in Southern Africa as well as in the Mediterranean, as she was born and raised in Zimbabwe and has a family tree entrenched in Sephardic history. Her parents originate from Rhodes, Greece, and Marmaris, Turkey and she is the great-granddaughter of Yaacov Capouya, the Rabbi of Rhodes.


Stella's Twist on Tradition

  • For a creamier taste, my mother would add 1/2 cup finely ground blanched almonds to the ground melon seeds when placing them in the cheesecloth.

Jewish tradition reinforces the importance of saying, “I’m sorry” with the sacred observance of Yom Kippur. It is widely considered to be the holiest, most solemn day of the Jewish year.

Learn how you and your family can pursue social justice during the Jewish high holidays.

Learn how you and your family can pursue social justice during the Jewish high holidays.

Spilled cereal? “Sorry!” Broken bongos? “Oops!” Overturned plant? “Sorry!” Stolen comic book? Accusations fly and tears fall as the cloud playhouse and Plony home confront the chaos of careless apologies and misplaced blame. A laser beam trap and giant basketball magically help Rafi and Ben learn that sometimes just saying sorry isn’t enough.


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