In just a week and half, the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah will begin on September 16th (at sundown) and continue through the 18th. Generally, it is celebrated in the early fall and is one of the first high holy days or Yamim Nora’im (“Days of Awe”). One of the bigger traditions of the Jewish New Year is the dipping of apples in honey. It’s done for a few different reasons. Not the underlying reason, but one fact is in the Bible; the land of Israel is often referred to as the land of “milk and honey.” In ancient and biblical times honey was not the same as we know it today, although it did exist, it was difficult to find and often expensive. Honey represented good living and wealth.
Today, however, honey and apples are plentiful and easy to come by. Though apples and honey can be eaten throughout the holidays, they are almost always eaten together on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. They were chosen for their sweetness, and are eaten to express the hope for a sweet new year. Traditionally, Jews dip the apple into the honey and say a special prayer.
- Say the first part of the prayer, which is a blessing thanking God for the apples: Blessed are you Lord, our God, Ruler of the world, Creator of the fruit of the tree. (Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, Borai p’ree ha’aitz.)
- Take a bite of the apple slices dipped in honey.
- Now say the second part of the prayer, which asks God to renew us during the New Year: May it be your will, Adonai, our God and the God of our forefathers, that You renew for us a good and sweet year. (Y’hee ratzon mee-l’fanekha, Adonai Elohaynu v’elohey avoteynu sh’tichadeish aleinu shanah tovah um’tuqah.
You are permitted to eat apples and honey throughout the entire holiday. In fact, slices of apple dipped in honey are often served to Jewish children – either at home or in religious school – as a special Rosh Hashanah snack.