Live Green and Earn Points


18 Green Tips for Rosh Hashanah: An Eco-Kosher New Year

By Joe Laur |
Here are 18 tips from a slew of sources to make your Rosh Hashanah sweet and “eco-Kosher”; paying as much attention to natural laws as to Jewish Law.
natural new year

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, falls during late summer/early fall, when we can reap the harvest not just of the land from the past year, but also our souls. Here are 18 tips from a slew of sources to make your Rosh Hashanah sweet and “eco-Kosher”; paying as much attention to natural laws as to Jewish Law.

Pick Your Own Organic Apples
Dipping apples into honey is a tradition to symbolize the sweet year to come. Start the New Year right by “picking your own” if possible from a local organic farm, or at least buy organic and local apples. As you dip at the dinner table, share the orchard’s story with guests. You can find a farm near you at Pick Your Own.

Avoid Industrial Honey- Get Local Organic Stuff
Colony collapse disorder- the mass disappearance of honey bees from their hives- indicates that something is awry in the bee universe. This year, dip your apples in delicious, raw honey produced by a small-scale apiary that supports healthy bees. Or try a honey substitute like agave nectar, maple syrup, or homemade preserves. Better yet, make sweet maple cream from maple syrup- it’s great with apples.

Drink Kosher Organic Wine
Kosher organic wine is out there, as more and more kosher wineries go green. Try Baron Herzog who uses “sustainable” growing practices. Serve wines that are tasty, kosher, and good for the Earth.

Add Local to Traditional
People crave familiar foods at holiday times. But old standbys don’t always lend themselves to good health or sustainability. This year, by incorporate local flavors into traditional Jewish holiday dishes. Make challah with apple cider and dried apple pieces, slip pieces of acorn squash into kugel, or pair warm barley with apple, spinach, and sharp feta cheese.

Rethink Chicken Soup
Chicken soup is the original Jewish comfort food, but you may want to skip it if you’re trying to cut back on your meat consumption. Treat your guests instead to a seasonal, vegetable-based soup like Leah Koenig’s Leek and Delicata Squash Soup with Caramelized Apple Croutons. If you really need chicken on your table, look for kosher organic chicken.

Sustainable Decor
Fresh-cut flowers are great, but they won’t make it to Yom Kippur like you hope to. Try more sustainable options. Place 12 heirloom apples or pomegranates in a glass bowl in the center of the table for a stunning, natural effect. Or decorate your table with potted fall flowers and gourds to add seasonal color. At the end of dinner, invite your guests to take home the fruit, squash, or potted plants as a parting gift, or save them for Sukkoth!

Food For Thought
There’s an old Jewish tradition to share words of Torah at every meal. Ask your guests to bring a favorite song, poem, or other text based around a particular Rosh Hashanah theme, like ‘renewal”, “mindful eating”, “what eco-kosher means to me” etc. Over dinner, ask your guests to share what they brought, then let the conversation flow.

Pot Luck
It Ask your guests to each contribute their favorite dish- organic and local. It takes a little coordinating, but it’s nice to let everyone play. Builds community and show off the local variety.

Try Cooking Your Meal In A Solar Oven
The divine energy known as sunlight falls on us all year round, and at Rosh Hashanah it’s still strong enough to cook virtually any food outdoors in a solar oven. Uses no power, no waste CO2, and lets you attend to other preparation. Keeps the house cooler, too.

End The Meal With Fair-Trade Treats
What holiday meal doesn’t end with a hot cup of coffee or tea? This year, end your Rosh Hashanah dinner with fair-trade coffee, tea, and chocolate from Equal Exchange.

Renew Your Days as in Days of Old
How many recycled objects- from the plates and utensils to the decorations, can you make from reused or reclaimed materials? Here’s an idea for a serving tray made from a picture frame.

Beeswax Or Soy Holiday Candles
Avoid breathing petroleum fumes on the holidays- use candles of soy or beeswax.

Go All The Way Back To Olive Oil Lamps
Before we lit candles for our holidays, we lit olive oil lamps. You can too, either make your own or buy online. Use organic olive oil.

Give To Green Causes
Rosh Hashanah is a traditional time to give tzedakah- charitable help- to good causes. Include environmental and conservation groups on your list this year, to ensure that we will have a green earth next year.

Plant a Tree
Fall is good time to find trees and shrubs remaining in nurseries, and give them a new home. Plant varieties that provide food and shelter for wildlife and you’ll be helping in the sacred work of creation.

Commit To “Green” Your Synagogue
The Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Ill., has won acclaim as one of the greenest houses of worship in the country, meeting the highest level of standards set out by the U.S. Green Building Council. If not yours, whose? If not now, when?

Make Your Holiday Best Earth’s Best
Wear organic fabrics and fair trade clothing wherever possible. Do you want to stand before the Creator of the World in garments made possible by pesticides and exploitation? Career limiting move, at worst; bad form at best.

Forgive Yourself
Guilt is a Jewish tradition, but is overrated. Ask the earth’s forgiveness for missing the mark and see how you can live lighter, use less, and return more over the next year.

Thanks to Leah Koenig of The Jew and The Carrot, Rabbi Arthur Waskow of Shalom Center, Creative Jewish Mom, and Religion New Service for many of these tips and ideas. May you all have a sweet, regenerative New Year!
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