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Purim 2021 is coming right up (Thursday night, Feb. 25 – Friday night, Feb. 26) and you can recreate some of the fun right at home with these 10 Purim Carnival Ideas. Do you remember the sights and sounds of a carnival when you were a kid? Read on to see how you can create that for those you care about.

Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

What is Purim and how is it celebrated? 

Purim is usually a community wide event celebrated with food, fun, games and entertainment. Whether in local synagogues or at other venues, you can hear joyous music, see creative costumes and hear the traditional greeting, “Chag Purim Sa’me’ach!”

Listen to the pronunciation of the Purim greeting here.

Why is Purim So Important?

Purim commemorates a 14-year dark saga for the Jews of Ancient Persia.  Queen Esther saved her people from the evil royal official, Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people.  

What Happens on Purim?

To remember the series of hidden miracles of Purim, we have four mitzvahs (commandments).  You can read more about the four mitzvahs of Purim here.

No One Can Cancel Purim!

Perhaps, a Purim Carnival wasn’t even planned because of the health situation that has turned life upside down since 2020.  You can make your own Purim Carnival.  Whether you actually have a backyard or not isn’t important.  These carnival ideas can even be done inside a small apartment like mine. (Keep a mop handy! JK 😃). 

The typical Purim festivities may not be happening as they usually would be.  But, the essential parts of the holiday (the mitzvahs) are happening and we all can create a wonderful Purim for ourselves.  

Young and Young at Heart Will Love These Purim Carnival Ideas

You can make the carnival games as simple or as detailed as you wish.  You don’t need to break the bank.  With a little bit of planning and some inexpensive supplies, you’ll be good to go!  

1. Sack Race

All you need is a starting point, a finish line and some large garbage bags.  This is probably one of my favorites.  It’s quite hysterical watching people of all ages jump, jump, jump their way to the finish line.

2. Bean Bag Toss

Place 3 colored bowls (they can be different sizes) in a line, each worth different points, with the bowl worth the most points furthest from the player.  Each player gets 3 tries to toss a ball into a bowl to accumulate points.  Player receives one ticket per point received or one ticket for each successful toss.

3. Three in A Row

Draw a tic tac toe pattern on a large poster board.  Using 5 bean bags, the player needs to get three in a row in any direction.

 

4. Pin the Hat on Haman

This is a take on the traditional Pin the Tail on the Donkey, but Purim style! Draw Haman on a large poster board and cut out some triangles for his hat.  Write each player’s name on a hat and add a piece of masking tape to the back so it will adhere to the posterboard.  Blindfold the player, give him a few gentle spins and watch the dizzy fun begin as he aims to put the hat on Haman’s head!  

5. Egg and Spoon Race

Just like the Sack Race, all you need is a starting point, a finish line, eggs and spoons.  Holding the egg in the spoon, each player races the other to the finish line.  It’s funniest if the eggs are raw.  If it’s too messy, use hard boiled eggs.

6. Ring Toss

Place 12 full water bottles standing in three rows of four.  The player tosses the rings trying to land them on the bottle spout. Or, you can use this cone and rings set.

7. Ladder Toss

Open a ladder.  Decorate with some streamers.  Mark each step with an amount of points.  The higher the step, the greater the amount of points. The player uses tennis balls to accumulate points by tossing them through the corresponding steps.

8. Flying Ducks

On a large poster board, cut out 5 circles that a rubber duckie will fit through.  Assign each hole a different point value: 20, 30, 40, 50 and 100.  Each player gets three throws.

9. Skee Ball

Cut 4 large poster boards of different colors into strips and staple them together to form circles.  Each colored circle should nest within the others, just like a skee ball game.  Each ring has progressively increasing point values.  Instead of rolling, the player tosses ping pong balls into the rings to accumulate points.

10. Ping Pong Toss

Place large disposable cups, each with a different hidden value written on the bottom, in random order.  The player tries to toss ping pong balls into the cups.  When he is finished with the balls, the points are added up. Mix up the order of the cups (and their point values) between players.

(Here’s An Extra Carnival Game)! Knock ‘Em Down

Using more of the large disposable cups, stack them face-down in the shape of a triangle (in a 1-2-3-4 pattern). Using tennis balls or something of similar weight, the player tries to knock all the cups over.


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Added Fun For Your Purim Carnival

Set up a photo booth! Use an easily made backdrop or one that is ready-made like this photo frame complete with a variety of party photo props.

A little decorating goes a long way.  Some colorful balloons and crepe paper streamers really can set the tone.  It’s super easy with this balloon pump set, complete with an electric air balloon blower pump.  And, I love these carnival style tickets that can be used for raffles and for the carnival games winnings.  Then, everyone can trade in their tickets for prizes.  Perhaps most important, don’t forget some delicious Hamantaschen on your prize table.  They are easy and fun to make.  Click here for my GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant Hamantaschen recipe!

Have Fun and Make Memories

Purim will come and go, and hopefully these 10 Purim Carnival Ideas will help you add some happiness to your holiday. We can take a lesson from Queen Esther.  Even under dire circumstances, she kept her Jewish traditions.  This gave her the strength to get through the challenges, even during some of her loneliest times.  As it is written in the Megillah, “For the Jews there was light, gladness, joy and honor.” So may it be for each of us!

If you need help arranging a Megillah reading or have any other Purim questions, please let me know at RebbetzinUnplugged@gmail.com. What’s your favorite of these 10 Purim Carnival Ideas? Can’t wait to hear from you in the comments below! 🎉 

What are the 4 mitzvahs of Purim? It is customary to learn and review about a holiday 30 days before it begins.  Purim 2021 begins Thursday evening, February 25 and continues through Friday evening, February 26. As the miraculous holiday of Purim is fast approaching, let’s go over some details.  Not only does reviewing the ins and outs of the holiday keep us knowledgeable, it also can get you in the mood for the festivities.

Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

Being that the world is still going through the challenges that began in 2020, Purim may be a bit different than we have enjoyed it in years past.  However, the most important parts of the holiday remain the same, and that is where our focus should be.  By concentrating on the aspects that are truly the most significant, we each can experience a wonderful Purim.

Kabbalah explains that when a Jewish holiday occurs, it isn’t just an auspicious date on the calendar.  Nor is it just a time of remembrance of our history.  Rather, the actual spiritual power that was present at that time, comes down and is again present with us today. This is, in part, why we add the special prayer, Al HaNissim (For the Miracles), to our daily prayers and grace after meals on Purim. 

Prayer book open to the special Al Hanissim prayer added to the daily prayers and grace after meals during Purim (and Hanukkah).
Prayer Book – Al Hanissim Prayer

Let’s take a closer look inside the prayer book.  It says:

Al hanissim v’al hapurkan

V’al hagvurot V’al hat’shuot

V’al hanifla’ot she’asita la’avoteinu

Bayamim hahem bizman hazeh.

And (we thank You) for the miracles, for the redemption, 

for the mighty deeds, for the saving acts, 

and for the wonders which You have wrought for our ancestors

in those days, at this time.

Miracles Before & During Purim

Before we jump into the 4 mitzvahs of Purim, let’s take a quick look at what got us here in the first place. The Babylonian King Nebuchadnetzar destroyed the Beit HaMikdash, the First Temple in Jerusalem, in 3338 (423BCE).  His son Meradoch took over the throne, followed by his grandson, Balshezzar (Balthazar). 

In his arrogance, Balshezzar drank from the vessels of the Beit HaMikdash, plundered by his grandfather.  This is when the well-known “Writing on the Wall” occurred. The Jewish Prophet Daniel interpreted the divine message, explaining Balshezzar’s reign and the Babylonian Empire would end. They were soon defeated by the Persians, led by Darius.

Daniel is Appointed Top Minister

For the Jews, King Darius was a great improvement over the previous rulers.  But, his officials were jealous of Daniel’s position. He was a pious man who prayed three times a day, facing Jerusalem. They convinced King Darius to enact a law that no one could pray for one month.  Daniel continued to pray and as punishment, was thrown into the lion’s den.  We learn in the Book of Daniel, he miraculously emerged unharmed. 

Darius’ rule was short-lived and Cyrus the Great took his place at the throne in 3390.  He allowed the Jews to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple, 52 years after its destruction.  

Construction is Brought to a Halt 

“By whom?,” you ask.  I’ll give you a hint.  Every year we read about him in the Megillah of Esther.  It was none other than the anti-semitic Persian king Achashverosh, who ruled during the 14-year Purim saga in the city of Shushan. 

In the Megillah, it says that King Achashverosh ruled over 127 lands.  After doing away with Queen Vashti for her refusal to obey his command, the king held a beauty contest to find a new wife. Against her wishes, Esther is forced to participate and becomes queen.  At the counsel of her wise cousin Mordechai, Esther keeps her Judaism a secret.  

Meanwhile, the king’s evil advisor, Haman became infuriated with Mordechai for not bowing to him.  Haman, with the king’s approval, plots to have the Jews killed.  To save her people, Esther reveals her identity to the king, but it’s too late. Once Achashverosh makes a decree, it can’t be nullified.  But, the king recalls that Mordechai once saved his life and decides to allow the Jews to defend themselves.

Mordechai and Esther Make a Plan

They gather all the Jews to fast and pray for three days.  Hidden miracles abound throughout the Purim saga, and the Jews are saved.  Each year since, we celebrate the miraculous events with four mitzvahs. 

Breakdown of the 4 Mitzvahs of Purim

  • Hear the Megillah by night and by day
  • Send food gifts to friends 
  • Give a gift to the needy
  • Celebrate with a feast

1. Hear the Megillah by night and by day.

Hand-written Megillah Scroll (The Book of Esther)
Hand-Written Megillah Scroll (The Book of Esther – One of the Five Megillahs of the Torah)

It is important to hear every word of the Megillah, and it must be in person.  Listening to a recording or over the phone may be good if you are studying before the holiday, but it does not satisfy the mitzvah requirement.  In these particular times during the health challenges of covid, there will be outdoor readings available.  And for those who can not go outside, home visits can be arranged to listen through a window.  

2. Send food gifts to friends.

The mitzvah is to give Mishloach Manot (also called Shalach Manos), a gift of two ready-to-eat foods to one friend.  Sending to two friends is said to be praiseworthy. When possible, it’s best to send it through a third person. Although all Jewish holidays begin in the evening, we wait until Purim day to do this mitzvah, so that we can do it after hearing the blessing of “Shehechiyanu” on the Megillah.  When we listen to this blessing, in addition to the reading of the Megillah, we also keep in mind all the other mitzvahs of the day.

Haman tried to convince King Achashverosh that he should be concerned about the Jews, because as is written in the Megillah, the Jews were “scattered and divided amongst the nations,” yet they worked hard to maintain their Jewish customs. The mitzvah of Mishloach Manot is therefore done to show the unity and friendship amongst the Jewish people.  

3. Give gifts to the needy. 

Tzedakah (Charity) Box – The Hebrew word “tzedakah” literally means righteousness.

Now it’s easier than ever to give tzedakah (charity) through an online charitable fund.  Ask your local rabbi or rebbetzin, who will have something set up specifically for the mitzvah of Matanot Levyonim, or be able to guide you otherwise. The mitzva is to give tzedakah to two people.

4. Celebrate with a feast.

In remembrance of the victory against the evil Haman, Mordechai declared Purim to be an annual celebration, marked by a feast.


Purim Background with party costume and hamantasch

Enjoy this delicious Hamantaschen recipe!


Special Things Before Purim Begins

There are some significant things we do in preparation of the holiday.  They include:

  • The reading of Zachor
  • The Fast of Esther – Her greatness and a role model for all
  • Giving of a Half Shekel (Machatzit HaShekel)

Ask your local rabbi or rebbetzin for details.  

Dressed Up for Purim!

Purim is known as the most joyous Jewish holiday of the year. 

And, we can always add in joy, so now is the perfect time to prepare to do just that!  Do the 4 mitzvahs of Purim. Bake some delicious Hamantaschen (recipe here) for your Mishloach Manot and make your arrangements to hear both readings of the Megillah.  Even if your Purim party will be more intimate this year (perhaps you will be on your own), it can still be significant.  Dress up and make a special meal! Most importantly, celebrate that we were not only saved more than 2000 years ago in Shushan, but we each made it through a very tough year. And, by uniting in friendship and charity, we will continue moving forward.

If you need any assistance making arrangements for Purim, let me know! Which is your favorite of the 4 mitzvahs of Purim? Scroll down and let me know in the comments.

How to Enjoy Hanukkah 2020 Safely

When is Hanukkah and how do you spell Hanukkah are perhaps the two biggest questions about the holiday! Whether you spell it Chanukah or Hanukkah, Hanukkah is on the evening of the 24th of Kislev, which in 2020 begins Thursday, December 10 and ends Friday, December 18.  It’s hard to believe that the year 2020 is coming to an end.   It has been a challenging year to say the least.  Some are healing physically and some emotionally. Many are wondering how to enjoy Hanukkah safely with others or how to enjoy it if they are on their own.

We are taught that life is not about what happens, but how we react. With that being said, there are many who will be facing another holiday without family and friends.  Some for health reasons, some have kids away at school and for some, the youngest child has just gotten married leaving parents now as empty nesters.  Sometimes it helps to know that you are not alone, in being alone.

🤍 Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

How can I manage the holiday alone?

We don’t have to manage the holidays as if it is something to go through, but we can make it truly wonderful.  Here are some thoughts about ways to make the holidays a meaningful experience, and not just a passage of time.  

Happiness is interesting.  It can be brought on by many different things.  But regardless of what actually encourages us to feel happy, the state of happiness triggers the same kind of stimuli in our brains.  

Being sad or lonely is a separate feeling.  One can be happy about one thing while at the same time, be sad about another.  What we focus on more is what gets our attention and becomes the stronger feeling.  This is important because this leads us to our next thoughts and feelings. And, whether they will be positive or negative begins with us.  It may not always be easy, but we can (and must) work on our focus.

Focus is Almost Like a Muscle

The more we work on our focus, the more we strengthen it.  And this isn’t only true at moments we are actively using it.  Even during unexpected situations, we will have greater success. Imagine having to suddenly catch a heavy falling object. If we are fit, then we can exert the necessary strength when we need it.  It takes work, repetition and dedication to strengthen our ability to focus, but it can be done.  Be strong and separate the two concepts of the holiday: the inherent joy in the festival itself and who we are with (or not with).  We can then truly experience a special and memorable holiday.  

Chanukah Unites Us

Over forty years ago, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn connected Jews all over the world via satellite to enjoy the Hanukkah menorah lighting together. As we all have seen more this year than any year before, we too can make use of technology to spread light all around the world. Whether you are lighting at home on your own or with family, get online during your menorah lighting to share one of the most meaningful parts of the holiday together with those you care about. And remember to give a big “amen” to each other as you say the blessings. 

For more on the Mystical Insights of Hanukkah, catch my class on 
PulveREDU, this coming Sunday, December 13 at 1:00pm EST, 
7:00pm CET, 8:00pm IST.  You can register here.

Learn the Blessings

On the first night, we say all three blessings.  On the remaining nights, we say the first two.  

In the first, we bless the lighting of the Hanukkah lights.  The second blessing mentions the miracles that G-d performed for those who came before us and for those miracles that He will also do for us.

The third blessing is said on the first night only.  It is a blessing that we say when we are doing a mitzvah for the first time that year. These words of gratitude are an expression of thanks that G-d has sustained us and brought us to celebrate this special moment.

1. Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech ha-olam a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu le-had-lik ner Cha-nu-kah.

Blessed are You, Lord our G‐d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.

2. Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam she-a-sa ni-sim la-avo-te-nu ba-ya-mim ha-hem bi-zman ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, Lord our G‐d, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.

3. Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam she-heche-ya-nu ve-ki-yi-ma-nu ve-higi-a-nu liz-man ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, Lord our G‐d, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.

The Lyrics, The Tunes, The Instruments! 

After lighting the menorah, you can break out the song sheets and sing the songs you loved as a kid or learn them together.  Sing, stream or play them on a musical instrument. There is an abundance of Hanukkah music online to choose from.  So turn up the volume and turn up the holiday feeling.

Decorate for Chanukah

Decorate ahead in anticipation of Hanukkah.  From table settings to wall hangings and balloons, there’s nothing like walking into a room filled with decorations to get you feeling the festive vibe.  And the actual planning and decorating can really get you in the Hanukkah mood.

You can buy some decorations, make them yourself or a combination of the two.  There are plenty of DYI ideas and printables online. And here are some of my favorites you can order, like

Window Decorations

                                                            

Ceiling Hanging Swirls

                                                            

Banners

                                                            

Hanukkah Meal Table Decorations

                                                            

And I just love these Hanging Ball Lanterns

                                                            

Milk Chocolate Coins – Hanukkah Gelt

                                                            

Make your zoom call screen shots more festive and memorable with these Fun Photo Booth Props.

                                                            

Get Your Dreidel Game On!  Whether you are playing in person together or online together.

                                                            

Treat yourself or others to delicious holiday treats with these Hanukkah Cookie Cutters.

                                                            

Review the History of Chanukah

In Jewish tradition, every physical thing has a spiritual equivalent.  Each historical event isn’t just something to be remembered. Jewish mysticism teaches that the power of the original event is also present and available for us each and every year on the anniversary of its original occurence.

2200 years ago, in the second century BCE, the Land of Israel was ruled by the Syrian-Greeks.  The Greeks objected to belief in the One G-d.  They tried to force the Jews to give up learning Torah and observing mitzvot.  Instead, they wanted the Jews to adopt the Greek culture and beliefs, which ran contrary to Judaism.

A small group of farmers, led by Judah the Maccabee, fought against the mighty Greek army. So mighty was the Greek Army, they were the first to employ the use of elephants during fighting. Without much military skill or equipment, the small band of Jews fought off the Greeks, drove them out of the land and rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem to reinstitute the special services to G-d.  One of the special daily services in the time of the Temple was to light the seven-branched menorah.  

The Hanukkah Miracle

But there was no pure oil to be found, as the Greeks had damaged all the containers.  Then miraculously, one cruse of pure oil was found, enough for just one night.  The greater miracle was that the oil not only lasted 8 days, but that was the exact amount of time necessary to travel and acquire more pure oil.  Our Sages instituted the celebration of this historical event as an annual holiday to remember and publicize the revealed miracles of Chanukah.  

It also reminds us that the smallest amount of light can dispel a great amount of darkness.  Goodness is compared to the light, and the not good to the dark.  This season is a chance to spread our own unique light by rededicating ourselves to increasing in random acts of goodness and kindness.

Cook Special Hanukkah Foods

World Famous Latke Recipe

How about having a World Famous Latke Recipe? This is the latke recipe from GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant at the main entrance of the Jewish Ghetto of Venice, Italy.  It may very well be the most eaten latke recipe on the planet, as we have served hundreds of thousands of latkes to guests from all over the world for more than 20 years! You can get my latke recipe here.

Latkes are delicious served with sour cream, apple sauce or whatever you fancy.  And it goes without saying, that the best latkes are followed up with delicoius Hanukkah doughnuts, or sufganiyot. Whether you buy some or make them at home, there is a filling for everyone’s taste: strawberry or cherry jelly, chocolate cream, vanilla custard and more!  

Deliver a Special Hanukkah Package to Someone

More often than not, giving is more fun than receiving. Buy or make a double batch of latkes or Hanukkah doughnuts and bring some joy to a neighbor, a colleague or a teacher. What better way to bring a smile to someone’s face during the holidays than sharing and showing you are thinking of them.

Send Chanukah Greetings

Make a list of ten people (or more) to send Chanukah greetings to, via online cards.  This is probably one of the easiest ways to bring a smile to someone’s face.  It may seem like a simple gesture, but receiving an e-card with a personal message is heart-warming.  It is taught, “Words that come from the heart, enter the heart.”

Spread Light

King Soloman, wrote in Proverbs: “The soul of man is a lamp of G-d.” A lamp is made up of a wick, oil and a container to hold the oil.  All the parts are needed to produce light. A wick instantly would burn to ash if not for the oil to sustain its flame.  Oil can’t easily be lit on its own, if at all.  

But when all three parts are brought together, they can produce a flame that is strong and constant.  The same goes for our soul.  What does it mean to be the lamp of G-d?  We are here for a Divine purpose: to elevate the physical world with spirituality.  G-d supplies us with the oil, the Torah and mitzvot.  The physicality of our lives is the wick.  We use our hands to light the Hanukkah menorah or to put a coin in a charity box.  We use our mouths to say a blessing before eating or drinking.  

We must combine our physical wick (our good actions) with our spiritual oil (Torah and mitzvot), and internalize their significance, as we are the lamp.  

Be the Light!

Fill yourself, ignite yourself and shine. Not only for those around you, but shine also for yourself.  Feel the warm glow of our traditions and the warmth of the strength and comfort of getting through these challenging times, as we look ahead toward the future. Wishing each and every one of you a very Happy Hanukkah filled with light and joy!

For more on the Mystical Insights of Hanukkah, catch my class on PulveREDU, this coming Sunday, December 13 at 1:00pm EST, 7:00pm CET, 8:00pm IST.  You can register here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings about Hanukkah this year. Leave me your comments below. xo

A Beautiful Custom

As is known in communities all around the world, there is a beautiful custom that Baal Shem Tov initiated of saying extra chapters of King David’s Book of Psalms, Tehillim, each day, from the beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul through Yom Kippur.  Let’s take a closer look at one of today’s extra chapters:

Chapter 77 verse 4 says: “I remember G-d and I stir; I speak and my spirit becomes faint, forever”.

Rashi, the Torah’s foremost commentator, explains that the first part of the phrase : “I remember G-d” refers to The kindness that He used to do for me. And, the second part beginning: “I speak” is talking about the acts of kindness and the favors. The verse finishes with: “and my spirit becomes faint,”  meaning to faint from extreme emotion.

The World is Catching Up

It’s interesting.  In recent years, the world has spoken much about the concept of gratitude and how beneficial it is spiritually and even physically.  On Google, there are nearly 300 million results for being grateful.  Well, King David, the King of Israel, whose son King Solomon built the holy Temple in Jerusalem where it’s outer wall, the Western Wall, still stands today, already supplied us with this crucial information more than 2,000 years ago.

When we think back and remember all the good G-d has done for us, when we recall the many kindnesses He has done for us and for our ancestors, we can’t help but feel grateful.

The King Has Faith in You, So You Should Too

But, in these special days of introspection before Rosh Hashanah, when we take the time to look back on our past deeds and try to improve ourselves, we have to be careful.  Yes, we must dedicate ourselves to sincere teshuva, to returning and strengthening our relationship with G-d by committing to improve ourselves and our lives, but we should not become dejected in the process.  We can, and must, stay positive knowing that G-d has faith in us to be His partners in making the world a better place.  And the proof is…… we are here!  Like we say in the morning prayer Modeh Ani upon awakening, You G-d have returned my soul to me and have faith in me to use it in the best way possible today.  

So my friends, stay strong, stay focused and make each day the best it can truly be. 

The King is in the Field

Since we are now in the Hebrew month of Elul, the month before Rosh Hashanah, I’ve been talking and writing about the concept of the King is in the Field.  We know that we can pray anywhere, anytime, in whatever language is comfortable for us.  The basic idea of the King is in the Field is that even though G-d is always available to listen to us, He is closer than usual during this time.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains something very special in a chassidic discourse, a maamar.  The first Hebrew letters of the beautiful phrase from King Solomon’s Song of Songs, Ani L’Dodi v’dodi li, I am my beloved’s and my Beloved is mine, spell out the name of the month Elul.  This is not by chance, so we have to understand the connection between the two.

The Rebbe breaks down the phrase into two parts to teach us a lesson to elevate our spiritual endeavors during Elul, this unique time of year.  

“I am my Beloved’s”

First we have: “I am my Beloved’s.” This refers to our spiritual service during the month of Elul.  We call this an arousal from below.  It refers to when we ourselves take initaitive to become closer to G-d.

In fact, we hear the blowing of the shofar each day of the month of Elul to awaken our soul, and to move us to focus on our past, so that we can better our future.

Then after Elul, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur come along in the month of Tishrei. Now let’s look at the second part of King Solomon’s words. “My Beloved is Mine.” 

What’s Happening?

Here, by contrast, the arousal begins from G-d.  G‑dliness is drawn down from Above in the month of Tishrei in the days from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur.  But what is actually happening here?  Our relationship with G-d is so precious, that we actually can cause a closeness in our relationship with Him.

It’s not happening on it’s own.  It’s a cause and effect. 

What we do now to get close to G-d, causes G-d to reciprocate.  

It’s Not Just What Happens in the Synagogue

The spirituality that we are infused with during the High Holidays actually comes about as a result of what we do, not only in the synagogue during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but with what we do as preparation during Elul.  It means that we can get a head start right now.

Our preparations each and every day during Elul help us draw down those special feelings of attachment and closeness during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  It’s not just by chance that we all feel such a deep connection during these holidays.  It’s not just the familiar prayers and the beautiful singing of Avinu Malkeinu, our Father our King.

On Healthy Relationships

It is that special feeling one gets when they work on a relationship and see and feel that relationship growing and moving in a positive direction.  It’s the strengthening of the bond, unlike anything else, that will continue to give us the needed spiritual nourishment throughout the year.

When we take care of our spirituality, we feel balanced and more secure.  And this will undoubtedly have a direct affect on our physicality and our approach to our lives each day.  

honey roasted chicken recipe for rosh hashanah

Easy Unforgettable Honey Chicken for Rosh Hashanah

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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4
This delicious recipe brings me right back to my childhood dining room table.
Three generations sat around a table whose length seemed to grow with each passing year. The younger generation listened intently to the wisdom of the older generation, and the grandparents kvelled (Yiddish for feeling happy & prideful) at the site of the children excitement of life and dreams of what was yet to come.
I distinctly remember that during each and every holiday, I would look around the dinner table and say my own little prayer: “Please G-d, please let all whom are with us tonight around the holiday table, be with us next year too.”
What an opportune time to mention my little childhood prayer, as it is on the holiday of Rosh Hashana itself, the Day of Judgement, that all is decided by the One Above. “On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed”.
This awe-inspiring phrase comes from the iconic High Holiday prayer “Unesaneh Tokef” in the Machzor, the special prayer book used during the Yomim Noraim, the 10 Days from Rosh Hashana until Yom Kippur.In the synagogue, we pray that we will be judged favorably and in the kitchen, we hope the same.
There is no doubt that this classic honey chicken dish will be judged favorably and will garner the highest accolades. Your prize will be the empty dinner dishes when everyone is done enjoying this holiday main course. It’s so delicious, you’ll hope there will be leftovers for a snack the next day.

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken (3-4 pounds cut into 8 pieces)
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375F
  • Rinse chicken and pat completely dry.
  • Line a shallow baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper for easy clean up.
  • Peel and cut carrots into quarters.
  • Peel and cut onion into eights.
  • Add them to the baking dish.
  • Add chicken on the vegetables.

Honey Mixture

  • Peel and cut garlic cloves in half.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together garlic cloves, extra virgin olive oil, honey, soy sauce, water, salt and pepper.
  • Pour honey mixture over the chicken.
  • Cook around 40 minutes. The inside temperature of the chicken should be 165F. Here is a great thermometer.
  • Halfway through cooking, baste the chicken and then continue cooking.
  • Optional: When the chicken is completely cooked, pour any remaining liquid into a saucepan. Reduce to thicken and pour over chicken.

Notes

When it comes to cooking chicken quarters, the recipe possiblities are endless. Come up with your own chicken recipes using seasonings that you love. And cooking the chicken with bones helps retain its moisture making it juicy and delicious. It is also less expensive than deboned chicken, making it a more frugal dinner recipe and better for those who want to budget food costs. 
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Jewish, Kosher
Keyword: easy, frugal, honey chicken, honey chicken for Rosh Hashanah, honey chicken recipe for Rosh Hashanah, honey chicken recipe rosh hashanah, honey chicken rosh hashanah, Rosh Hashanah

Everybody loves new beginnings, a chance to make a fresh start. 

For sure, all new things also mean some kind of change, an element of surprise and perhaps even a bit of healthy stress at what the unknown will hold.  But all in all, you are beginning the year with a white artist’s canvas and you can create any design your heart desires, your imagination inspires and your will drives you.

Here’s what you need to know to celebrate Rosh Hashana:

Step 1: When?

Rosh Hashanah this year begins on Monday night September 6 and the two day holiday ends Wednesday night September 8.

Step 2: What?

Rosh Hashana celebrates the head of the Jewish year and is also the day that Adam and Eve were created.

Step 3: No FOMO here!

Hear the blowing of the Shofar on both mornings of the holiday.  Some years, Rosh Hashana begins on Shabbat, when the shofar is not blown.  No need for any Fear-Of-Missing-Out because it is taught that we achieve an even higher level of holiness when Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat, even more than we achieve when blowing the shofar during a weekday.

Step 4: Light Up Your World

Women and girls have the special honor of lighting holiday candles to bring in the holiday.  

Step 5: You’ve Got the Power!

You’ve got the power to bless.  Both nights, we say two blessings.  The first blessing is for the holiday.  The second is for thanking G-d that we arrived at this point in our lives to celebrate.

Blessing 1: 

Baruch atah Ado-nei Elo-heinu Melech has’olam asher kiddishanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu lihadlik ner shel Shabbat* v’Yom HaZikaron.

Blessing 2: 

Baruch atah Ado-nei Elo-heinu Melech has’olam she’he’chianu v’kiyemanu v’higianu lazman ha’zeh.

*Since Rosh Hashana falls on Shabbat, we acknowledge this by adding these words in the first blessing over the candles.

Step 6: Make That Connection!

Pray your heart out!  Faster than wifi, your prayer connection puts you in direct contact with The One Above.  There’s no connection like it!  Whether you pray in the synagogue or at home, rest assured that your prayers will be received by The World’s CEO.  Although sometimes we don’t recevie the answers right away, (and sometimes not really the answers we want), no one’s prayers end up in the junk folder.

Step 7: Feast Like Royalty

Enjoy a special meal with someone special.  In these challenging times, if one finds themselves without company, just know that although it is a difficult situation, you are never truly alone! 

Step 8: Make it delicious and family-friendly

No need to ask, “What should I cook for Rosh Hashanah this year”.  Check out rebbetzinunplugged.com for the best Rosh Hashanah recipes and menu ideas to celebrate the New Year and all the Jewish Holidays all throughout the year.  Sign in and save your favorite recipes to add something special to your holiday!

Step 9: Know the Symbolic Foods for Rosh Hashanah

Enjoy the traditional Rosh Hashanah foods and the significance behind them, like round challahs, apples dipped in honey and other delicacies.

On Rosh Hashanah, we eat round challahs instead of the long challahs traditionally baked for Shabbat.  We eat round challah in the fervent hope that our lives will be filled with goodness without end. Round Rosh Hashanah challah also symbolizes that we are once again crowning G-d the King of the World.  And we dip juicy apples in honey in our anticipation of a sweet new year.

Step 10: Have an Truly Awesome Holiday!

The days from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur are known as The Days of Awe. Rosh Hashanah has a few names expressing various aspects of the holiday.  It is know as Yom Hazicharon, the Day of Rememberance and Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgement, because during Rosh Hashanah, Jews pray that G-d will judge them favorable and remember them in the Book of Life. 

Now that you’ve read this 2021 quick guide to celebrating Rosh Hashanah, if you want to know more about how you make a memorable Rosh Hashanah gathering, what to make for Rosh Hashanah dinner and what you need to know for one of the most important Jewish holidays of the year, enjoy the other articles, recipes and lessons. Shana Tovah! Wishing you a sweet new year!

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