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Rosh Hashanah Eve Dinner: What You Need to Know

Rosh Hashanah Eve Dinner: What You Need to Know



Photo: Mushka Lightstone
Photo: Mushka Lightstone

Girls and all women who are in the house (or if there isn't a woman in the house, the head of the household), light candles so that the festive table is bathed in their glow. See Procedure for Holiday Candle Lighting for detailed holiday candle-lighting information.


Before starting the Rosh Hashanah meal, we sanctify the holiday by reciting the kiddush over a cup of wine or grape juice. Click here for the Hebrew text of the kiddush.1

New Fruit

On the second night of Rosh Hashanah, a "new fruit," i.e., a seasonal fruit which we have not yet tasted since its season began, should be present on the table when the holiday candles are kindled and during the kiddush. While reciting the Shehecheyanu blessing after candle-lighting and after the kiddush, one should have the new fruit in mind.2

This fruit is eaten following the kiddush, before washing for bread. Before partaking of the fruit we say the following blessing:

Ba-ruch a-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam bo-re pri ha-etz.

ברוך אתה ה' אלוקינו מלך העולם בורא פרי העץ

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.

Challah in Honey

Immediately following the kiddush (and on the second night, the eating of the new fruit), we perform the ritual washing for bread, after which we say the following blessing:

Ba-ruch a-tah Ad-onai, E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam, a-sher ki-desh-an-u be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tziv-anu al ne-til-at ya-da-yim.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְווֹתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדָיִם

Blessed are you, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us concerning the washing of the hands.

When everyone has returned to the table, we raise the two challah loaves and recite the Hamotzie blessing:

Ba-ruch atah A-do-nai, E-lo-hei-nu Melech Ha-Olam, hamotzie le-chem min ha-ar-etz.

ברוך אתה ה' אלוקינו מלך העולם המוציא לחם מן הארץ

Blessed are You, L-rd, our G‑d, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

Cut the challah, dip it in honey (some also dip it in salt), and have a bite. Pass around pieces and make sure everyone does the same.

Symbolic Foods

On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, after eating the challah with honey, it is customary to eat several foods which symbolize the type of year we wish to have:

We dip a piece of sweet apple into honey. Before eating it we say:

Ba-ruch a-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam bo-re pri ha-etz.

ברוך אתה ה' אלוקינו מלך העולם בורא פרי העץ

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.

Ye-hi ratzon she-ti-cha-desh alei-nu shanah tovah u-m'tu-kah.

יהי רצון שתחדש עלנו שנה טובה ומתוקה

May it be Your will to renew for us a good and sweet year.

A head of a fish, ram, or other kosher animal, is served. This symbolizes our desire to be at the "head of the class" this year.

A pomegranate is eaten, symbolizing our wish to have a year full of mitzvot and good deeds as a pomegranate is filled with luscious seeds.

Throughout the meal, it is customary to also eat foods whose names in the vernacular allude to blessing and prosperity. For example, many have the custom of eating a carrot dish called tzimmes, because in Yiddish the word for carrots, meren, means to multiply.

Rosh Hashanah Cuisine

On Rosh Hashanah it is customary not to eat foods which are sour or tart (the gefilte fish will have to do without the horseradish...). Instead, the focus is on sweet foods, symbolizing our desire to have a sweet year, blessings and abundance. It is also customary not to eat nuts on Rosh Hashanah, as the numerical value of the Hebrew word for nuts ("egoz") is the same as the Hebrew word for sin ("chet").

Click here for traditional Rosh Hashanah recipes.

Click here for Rosh Hashanah foods according to Sephardic custom.


If it is Shabbat, the Shalom Aleichem and Aishet Chayil hymns are recited before kiddush in an undertone.


Halachically, the two days of Rosh Hashanah are considered as "one long day." This idea led some halachic authorities to doubt whether the Shehecheyanu blessing, which is normally recited at the onset of a holiday day, should be recited during the candle-lighting and kiddush of the second day of Rosh Hashanah.
To dispel any doubt as to the validity of this blessing, we also have in mind the new fruit, whose consumption also requires the recitation of the Shehecheyanu blessing.

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David Australia September 19, 2017

When do you say Shehecheyanu? Reply Staff via October 1, 2016

To Anonymous Usually Gefilte Fish comes first, followed by Chicken soup. Reply

Anonymous New Jersey September 28, 2016

Which traditionally comes first at the hoiliday dinner soup or gefilte fish ???? Thanks Reply

Anonymous San Antonio September 11, 2015

I just read some blogs, so in response to Billy Brownhill of Coventry, UK; who says I find it very hard to see how people of the Jewish faith can sustain this lifestyle of continuous devotion in a being that no one has any substancial evidence that even exists. but that is just my opinion! Don't get upset about it :P

to you Sir, I say (not only as a Jewish individual), but an individual of having faith, you sound like an Athiest to me.

If you're not an athiest, then you are secretly jealous that you were not born a jew; and won't admit it. Either way, That is my opionion, and don't be upset. Reply

Mike September 11, 2015

wish for a blessed year Shalom,

I have a card with a concluding wish that starts ye-he ratzon as yours does but adds the words "meelfanecha Adonai elokanu vaylo-cai" before continuing with she-ti-cha-desh alei-nu shanah tovah u-m'tu-kah.

Could you tell me what those words mean and why they may be omitted from yours?

Toda Rabbah and L'shana Tova!
Mike from Detroit Reply Staff via September 1, 2015

To Anonymous The new fruit is eaten on the second night of Rosh Hashanah. By new fruit we mean a seasonal fruit which we have not yet tasted since its season began. Prickly pears and figs come to mind. Reply

Anonymous NJ September 1, 2015

First Fruits When to serve? What to serve? Reply

Anonymous September 28, 2014

thank you allright, Thank you for the answer. It is interesting.
My rav did say that almonds were OK but this is all definitely something to keep in mind, although I still don't understand why the other two words are said to have the same numerical value when they simply don't. Reply

Menachem Posner Skokie September 24, 2014

RE: chet-egoz You may be interested that there is another reason for not eating nutsh on Rosh Hashanah. The Maharil (Rabbi Yaakov HaLevi Moelin), a talmudist of the 15th century who compiled and codified many of the customs of Ashkenazic Jewry, notes that nuts tend to increase saliva in one's mouth, making prayer difficult. Considering the amount of praying we do on Rosh Hashanah, and the importance of our words being enunciated clearly specifically on that day, nuts are avoided.

This applies equally to nuts, almonds, and according to common practice, even peanuts. Reply

Anonymous September 24, 2014

chet - egoz I never understood the custom about the nuts - egoz = 17; chet=18 so they are not the same. As for the idea to remove the "alef" because a sin removes us from Hashem, we cannot change the nature of the word, it does have an alef. And what about almonds, whose gematria is 404? Reply Staff via September 22, 2014

Re No hard boiled eggs are not used traditionally at this meal. Reply

Anonymous Florida September 20, 2014

Erev Rosh Hashannah meal Are hard boiled eggs used as a symbol during this meal? Reply

Shaul Wolf September 18, 2014

Re: Blessing children The reason why we bless our children on Shabbat specifically, is because on Shabbat every Jew is said to have an extra soul enter their body, and it accompanies them throughout the entire Shabbat. This is an opportune time for blessings to be given, as the person receiving them has an extra "capacity" for receiving blessings.
This idea of an additional soul is said specifically regarding Shabbat and Yom Kippur (which is known as the Shabbat of Shabbatot), and not of the other Festivals. Reply

Deb Berkeley, CA September 16, 2014

blessing children Why are children blessed on Shabbat and Yon Kippur but not on Erev Rosh HaShanah? Reply

Billy Brownhill Coventry, UK October 14, 2013

Judaism I find it very hard to see how people of the Jewish faith can sustain this lifestyle of continuous devotion in a being that no one has any substancial evidence that even exists. I personally believe that religion breeds war and corruption and the moral codes are by far out-dated...

but that is just my opinion! Don't get upset about it :P Reply

Elisheva USA/ France August 13, 2013

Thank you, Chana, but the other article does not mention the carrot dish. Does it have meaning for Sefardim too? Or are there other foods with Hebrew names ) or Ladino) that Sefardim could eat instead? Reply

Mrs. Chana Benjaminson via August 13, 2013

Re At this link you can find the traditional foods which are eaten on Rosh Hashanah according to Sephardic custom Reply

Elisheva August 12, 2013

Sefardim What do Sefardim eat instead of carrots, since we don't speak Yiddish? Reply

Menachem Posner for October 2, 2011

To Anonymous, PHILADELPHIA, PA The Chabad custom is to eat the apple in honey after making hamotzi. The reason we recite the Ha'etz blessing is because fruit are not considered to be part of the meal and warrant their own blessing--even when eaten during the meal.

(On the other hand the new fruit eaten on the second night is connected to the Shehechiyanu blessing said in kiddush, and it is eaten immediately after the kiddush, before washing and breaking bread.) Reply

Anonymous PHILADELPHIA, PA September 28, 2011

extra blessing Since we do it before the challah, we haven't said hamotzi yet, so we need to say haetz over the apple. Some customs make hamotzi first and then the haetz is not said. The real question is why the Chabad custom davka eats the apple first. I think it's kabbalistic, but I don't know. Anyone out there can clarify? Reply

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