Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Learning about Rosh Hashanah + Honey Cake Recipe

Part of this year's homeschooling goals is to learn about different holidays and celebrations - religious and cultural ones throughout the world. Today marks Rosh Hashanah - one of the High Holy Days of the Jewish faith.

We read two books about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (which occurs later this month):

=> On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur - by Kathy Goldberg Fishman

=> Celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with Honey, Prayers, and the Shofar - by Deborah Heiligman and Rabbi Shira Stern

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. According to On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, "Rosh Hashanah is not the new year in terms of is the new year for how we think and act."

What we enjoyed reading and learning about is the special traditions associated with this holiday. One of the things that families do is light holiday candles before they eat the New Year's meal. People pray for a new year of joy, good health, and peace.

There are many items that are round that are part of Rosh Hashanah, most notably apples and raisin-filled challah (a type of bread). They are round like the cycle of the year is round.

Embroidered Apple
Hand-embroidered apple on a quilt I made.

Honey also is a part of the meal. Apples and/or challah can be dipped in honey. This symbolizes the hope that the new year will be sweet - as sweet as honey and challah, apples, and honey taste.

Olivia and Sophia trying to find the queen bee
in a glass-enclosed frame at the 
2012 Minnesota State Fair.

People go to synagogue to pray and listen to the shofar (a curved horn of a ram). In the afternoon, they visit a river, lake, or other body of water. They take either lint from their pockets or bits of crumbs and toss it into the water. This represents the bad deeds and thoughts of the past year. As they float away, people promise to try to do better in the new year.

The girls watching fish swimming in the St. Croix River
on their first day of homeschool for the 2013-14 year.

Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), people think about the good things that they should do during the upcoming year. Money is put in a tzedakah box which is given to rabbis so they an help people who are in need.

Q is for Quarters ATC
Quarters - real and rubbings.

Besides reading about Rosh Hashanah today, the girls made a recipe that was in Celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with Honey, Prayers, and the Shofar: Rabbi Shira's Honey Cake. This is a delicious cake that is rich with spices and honey. It has a similar texture to a sponge cake.

A piece of Rabbi Shira's Honey Cake that the girls made
for Rosh Hashanah.


5 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups self-rising flour
Confectioner's sugar
Slivered almonds, lightly toasted (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate egg whites and egg yolks. Beat egg whites with a mixer until they look stiff. Slowly add sugar to egg whites with mixer at lowest speed. Add egg yolks and oil to egg-white mixture with a whisk. Be gentle. Keep stirring.

Add honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and flour using a wooden spoon. Remember to be gentle. Stir until all the flour is absorbed.

Pour batter into a 10-inch pan sprayed with vegetable oil and then lightly dusted with flour. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out gooey, the cake's not done yet. Try not to open the door of the oven until you think the time is up. 

Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Loosen the edges and bottom of the cake with a long knife. Turn the cake onto a rack.

Once the cake is completely cool, place it on a plate. To make it look pretty, shake confectioner's sugar on top. Sprinkled with the almonds, if you like.

1 comment:

Rita said...

Very interesting. I don't know much about these other holidays. the cake looks really yummy! :)