Rosh Chodesh: How This Monthly Holiday is Observed in Jewish Tradition

loaf of challah bread as part of celerbation of rosh chodesh

The Jewish calendar is full of celebrations and festivals to inspire and refresh. Rosh Chodesh, while it might not be one of the most well-known festivals, is no less important. Rosh Chodesh means the “head of the new moon” and is a day or two of celebration that marks the start of a new lunar month. For that reason, it is celebrated monthly, starting at nightfall of the preceding day.

How is Rosh Chodesh celebrated?

It is customary to wish people “chodesh tov,” which means “a good month” on Rosh Chodesh. Special prayers are recited on the Shabbat prior to the celebration. A special paragraph, Yaaleh Viyavo, is added to the Grace After Meals during Rosh Chodesh, along with the “half Hallel,” a shortened version of the Hallel service. There are several ways to honor the occasion, including taking the day off from housework and chores, although this is not mandated by the Torah. Many choose to celebrate Rosh Chodesh with a large feast, including a few Jewish favorites designed to be shared with family and friends.

Traditional Rosh Chodesh foods

From traditional challah to sprout salad, a specialty dish that is only prepared on certain occasions, these Rosh Chodesh foods are perfect for celebrating the new month.

Challah

Few things are more beloved amongst Jewish families than a fresh loaf of challah. Challah is traditionally served braided, on a communal platter alongside a knife for serving. Challah is a sweet loaf, made with refined flour, yeast, eggs, sugar, and water. Some choose to customize their challah with alternative sweeteners like molasses or honey, while some loaves are also made with whole wheat flour or even oat flour.

Blintzes

Many Jewish foods can be prepared either sweet or savory. Blintzes are a good example of this. These thin, flat pancakes are filled with the stuffing of your choice and rolled up before serving. Filling for blintzes can be anything from savory mashed potatoes with onions to a sweet cheese mixture. Blintzes are pan-fried and served with a flavorful sauce, such as sour cream for savory blintzes and applesauce for sweet blintzes.

Kipfel

There’s no better way to go into a new month than by indulging in something sweet. Kipfel is a traditional Rosh Chodesh food that satisfies your sweet cravings perfectly. Kipfel is a yeast pastry that is hand-shaped to resemble a crescent before being baked and served to hungry guests. The traditional filling for kipfel is nuts and brown sugar. Some prefer to incorporate chocolate chips and other varieties of nuts.

Sprout salad

A hearty salad that appeals to all tastebuds, sprout salad is a versatile dish that is commonly served on Rosh Chodesh. Every family has their own way of preparing sprout salad. The base recipe includes ingredients such as potatoes, sprouts, and mushrooms. Almost any vegetables can be used in sprout salad, including fresh broccoli and peppers. After the vegetables of your choice are chopped and combined in a bowl, they are tossed with a light dressing made of lemon juice, black pepper, olive oil, parsley, and onion.

While the salad can be served fresh to hungry guests, it is best when it has the chance to sit in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight, to allow the flavors to meld and come together.

Sarah’s Tent carries all your Rosh Chodesh essentials

Whether you choose to celebrate Rosh Chodesh with an elaborate feast, full of friends and extended family, or keep things intimate with a small gathering, having the right food can make the day extra memorable. For all your Rosh Chodesh needs, visit Sarah’s Tent, your local Jewish grocer in Skokie. 

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