Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the Jewish New Year. It is a joyous holiday filled with tradition. This is a time to reflect on the previous year and clear the slate for the sweet year ahead. The family gathers around the table sharing history, prayer and a great meal together. As a beekeeper, the new year is extra special.
On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, we celebrate with sweet honey.
To begin the meal, as a matter of tradition, we dip apples into honey and wish each other sweet new beginnings. The apple represents the Garden of Eden and honey represents the sweetness of life. The combination of the two symbolizes the good luck and love we want to come in the new year.
What is Tashlich?
The Jewish New Year is a holiday is filled with traditions that date back thousands of years. One of the very meaningful practices associated with Rosh Hashanah is Tashlich, a ceremony of symbolically casting away sins. We go to the Chester River and cast away our sins by tossing challah bread into the water.
This ceremony inspires us to remember our actions, right our wrongs, and refocus ourselves for the New Year. While the bread is merely a symbol of our sins it was greatly enjoyed by the local flock of seagulls passing by. As a matter of tradition, we wish everyone a “Sweet New Year”.
To me, honey is a sweet childhood memory.
This reality started for me with a tasting I did with my sister who took a great interest in what I was doing with the bees right from the start. She had no idea that all raw honey from different regions had different tasting characteristics; the appearance, aftertaste, body, and bite differing with each. To prove it, I lined up several jars of honey on the counter and I drew a small taste (a drop or so) of each varietal. One at a time, she delighted in the experience, detecting the subtle earthiness, fruitiness, bitterness, and sweetness in each taste of a different varietal.
I noticed over the years that this is the theme with most people who are first discovering honey. People taste many until one varietal or another strikes a chord… a memory. For my sister, the memory was with orange blossom honey. She immediately said, “this reminds me of Rosh Hashanah.” When my husband mentioned that before he knew me, one jar of honey lasted him 30 years, I realized that he too had honey only once a year, for Rosh Hashanah.
Celebrating Rosh Hashanah as a Beekeeper
As I celebrate my ninth year as a beekeeper, I’ve grown to love and appreciate the beauty of honey and the rhythm of our honeybees in our apiary. Honey is an ancient and biblical food that feeds the mind, body, and soul, and on Rosh Hashanah, it holds even more of a special place in my heart.
In addition to dipping apples into honey, we dip challah in honey with the hope of a sweet new year. The problem with this is, most families don’t know that they’re not actually serving their loved ones honey. Corn syrup can be found in grocery store honey. Simply put, it isn’t as good for you as raw honey from someone you know and trust. So, grab a jar of honey from your local beekeeper for Rosh Hashanah.
This is why we have been dedicated to nourishing our land and providing for the bees for so long. On Chesterhaven Beach Farm, we’ve planted over 40 acres of wildflowers specifically for the bees. We have a mutually beneficial relationship with nature where we provide what the bees need. In turn, they provide us with what we need from them.
Our honey bees help us make raw, unpasteurized, certified kosher honey that we’re proud to share with our friends and family.
Producing beautiful golden honey is only one part of the equation. Taking care of the land, and the ecosystem as a whole is vital for everything I do as a beekeeper. Honeybee colonies are a super-organism in which neither can live without the other. Each bee alters everything they collect from nature into something better and oh so sweeter.
The Bees and the Jewish New Year
Without space for our pollinators to live and work, the environment around us will drastically change. Many plant species, from those we eat to the roadside wildflowers we enjoy during the summer, rely heavily on honeybees for their pollination efforts.
Honey bees are responsible for one out of three bites of the food we eat. The reduction of pollinator populations threatens flowering plants globally and potentially causes spikes in costs for around 75% of the crops we find necessary. In supporting your local beekeepers, you’re helping to keep a vital part of the ecosystem thriving.
Monoculture farming reduces the diversity of what bees can pollinate (if there is anything for them to pollinate in that crop, to begin with). Once a monoculture field has stopped blooming, bees have nothing to left to pollinate.
Globally, millions of acres of natural land are cleared for industrial, agricultural, and residential uses each year. So, in losing this habitat, we’re losing wildlife and environments that create diverse and healthy ecosystems. You don’t need to be a beekeeper to help!
You can create a haven for bees and other insects in your own backyard by planting a pollinator garden at your home. These gardens are beautiful, low-maintenance, and easy to care for after they establish themselves. You provide a safe haven for pollinators when you plant them even a small garden.
Consider supporting your local beekeepers in this new year and sharing honey that is as raw and real as the bees intended. Not only are you doing good for the local economy, but you’re providing a pure source of joy for your family and friends. This new year, remember to bee happy, and bee sweet.
Our Favorite Rosh Hashanah Recipes
Honey Glazed Chicken
Baked Honey Mustard Chicken
Honey BBQ Brisket
Slow Cooker Brisket
Honey Herb Marinated Rib Roast
Honey Mustard Carrots
Aunt Jane’s Apple Cake
Honey Cake made with Apples
Want a complete meal plan including shopping list and recipes? Try these Rosh Hashanah Dinner Ideas. And, check out our blog for sweet recipes all year long.
Rosh Hashanah Press Features
Autumn Honey for Rosh Hashanah
Spring Honey for Rosh Hashanah
Orange Blossom Honey for Rosh Hashanah
Wildflower Honey for Rosh Hashanah
Blackberry Honey is our newest varietal.
Clover Honey is wonderful every day.
Try Aunt Jane’s Apple Cake for Rosh Hashanah. You won’t be disappointed.
This Apple Honey Cake is also awesome for Rosh Hashanah.
Need a gift? This Honey Gift Sampler was featured in the New York Times!
This Tasting Tower is such a great gift! 5 certified kosher varietal samples.
Raw Honey Sticks for Rosh Hashanah