Happy New Year to all my readers. It’s that time of the Jewish year again, folks, the time for reflection and review, the time for atonement for sins against God and against others, and the time for apples and honey.
Rosh HaShanah started at sundown yesterday evening. We Jews wish each other a good and sweet year. (Astound your Jewish friends by repeating the transliteration above.) Dipping apple slices in honey represents the sweet part. I want a sweet year, and I imagine you do too. I think we’ve all earned one.
Let’s start with the apples: I go to the market for the best specimens, which fortuitously happen to be in season. This year we scored MacIntosh apples that reminded me of my childhood. They were crisp and tart and perfect for the occasion, a different breed than the mushy tasteless ones sold in grocery stores. I bought several of them, just in case I need another taste or two of my childhood over the course of the week.
Then there’s the matter of the perfect honey for the job. There was a lovely harvest festival in our community last August, and a beekeeper was there selling his wares. He had a several varieties of honey, and J. accepted a sample, which she thoroughly enjoyed. This locally produced honey would have been perfect for the annual dipping ritual, don’t you think?
Nope, unfortunately not. Before I partook, I had to ask the beekeeper the dreaded question: “Is it pasteurized?” He told me it wasn’t, and a scornful look flashed across his face. We’d been getting along amiably up to that point, until I gently rejected his sample. I explained that I am immunocompromised–too much information, I know, but his annoyance brought out the apologizer in me.
What’s the problem, you’re thinking? It was just a taste of raw honey. So I could get botulism. No big deal. You’re probably right. I was probably at greater risk eating the delectable freshly made Indian snack offered a few tables over that day. Ordering salad at a restaurant could kill me, and I love sushi, but scratch that option too. If we get right down to it, I probably shouldn’t eat out anywhere ever.
But, in the spirit of the season, I forgive the beekeeper for judging me. He doesn’t know I have leukemia. Heck, he was sharing his wares in an effort to make a sale, and he realized he’d just lost ours. No wonder he was short with me.
I did procure honey for apple dipping, just not the raw product from this beekeeper. I bought cheap generic pasteurized honey from the grocery store so I could dip to my heart’s content. And that I did, last night, with J., at 10 p.m., when I realized to my horror I’d completely forgotten my favourite ritual, well above opening Christmas gifts.
It’s not too late for you, folks. You have until sundown tonight to dip your apples in a bit of honey. Who says this ritual is exclusive to Jews? Jewish or not, you too deserve a good and sweet year. And if all you have on hand is raw honey, go for it. I won’t judge you.