It’s here: Your 2020/5781 High Holiday Guide from GatherDC. Consider it your one-stop-shop for all things High Holidays happening in and around the District this year. From playlists and recipes to services and reflections, this list has it.
There is a particular need this year for the High Holidays to inspire hope in our future. As our personal and societal structures seem to be breaking down, and our lives seem more uncertain than ever, GatherDC hopes to use these traditionally reinvigorating holidays as a chance to bring our community together, offering a collectively-formed path with purpose as we move into the new year. As part of this, GatherDC is presenting a theme from which the community can frame the holiday experience: CRASH / BURN / RISE.
In crashing, we experience loss, grief and panic, and are forced to adjust to new realities. In burning, we recognize that destruction can lead to growth and room for change. In rising, we rediscover purpose and power, and walk determinately toward the future.
So, here’s how to use it…
Sunday, August 30th
Tuesday, September 1st
Thursday, September 3rd
Friday, September 4th
Sunday, September 6th
Thursday, September 10th
Friday, September 11th
Saturday, September 12th
Sunday, September 13th
Monday, September 14th
Tuesday, September 15th
Wednesday, September 16th
Thursday, September 17th
Friday, September 18th
Thursday, September 24th
September 18th (Erev Rosh Hashanah)
September 19th (Rosh Hashanah, Day 1)
September 20 (Rosh Hashanah, Day 2)
September 27 (Kol Nidre)
Monday September 28 (Yom Kippur, Neilah)
Crash-Burn-Rise: A Collective Yom Kippur Experience
Come for the Jewish wisdom, stay for the live acoustic music, thoughtful introspection, and compassionate goal-setting for the new year. Sign up today!
High Holiday Deep Dives: 5781 Edition
To help us navigate this weird new year together, GatherDC is offering its popular High Holiday Deep Dive – 5781 Edition to explore our high holiday theme: Crash, Burn, Rise. *Note: These cohorts are now full*
Cast Away: A High Holiday Ritual
Hoping for an IRL connection this High Holiday season? Us, too. Join us for a socially-distant, but spiritually-close Rosh Hashanah tashlich (6-feet apart, of course. We’ll reflect on the past year and cast away what is weighing us down. Location is metro accessible. Sign up today!
(Click each title to expand)
Apple and Honey Challah (Jewish Food Experience)
Apple, Honey, and Brie Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread (Kveller)
Don’t you love when you whip up a recipe that looks really impressive, but was actually a total cinch to make? This is one of those recipes.
This ooey, gooey, sweet and savory pull-apart bread goes great with a glass of wine and close friends. But it also serves as a fun, crowd-pleasing appetizer for Rosh Hashanah gatherings (if you’re serving a dairy meal).
If brie isn’t your thing, swap it out for cheddar. And if you want to make this dish really, really Jewy, you can use a round challah.
1 round loaf sourdough bread (or other round crusty bread)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Pinch of sea salt
½ apple, sliced thin
½ lb brie cheese, cut into thin 1 inch slices
2 Tbsp honey
Thick sea salt (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter at 30 second intervals. Add fresh thyme and generous pinch of salt.
Using a serrated knife, cut the top of bread diagonally in one direction, then diagonally in the other direction, creating a criss-cross. Be careful not to cut all the way through. Gently fan the bread out slightly to accentuate the squares of bread.
Pour butter mixture all across the top of bread and into the crevices.
Place slices of brie and apple in between all the squares of bread. There is no such thing as too much in this step. Just stuff as much as you can.
Drizzle with honey and top with thick sea salt if desired. You can also add some additional herbs at this point on top, but it’s not necessary.
Place bread on top of foil lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with another piece of tin foil. Bake for 10 minutes.
Remove piece of foil. Bake another 10 minutes, until bread is golden and crisp, and cheese is oozing. Serve immediately.
Apple Cake - A Rosh Hashanah Tradition (Mother Would Know)
Heat the juice, add the raisins and soak them (to plump them up) while you prepare the other ingredients. I heat the juice by microwaving it on high for about 1 minute.
Mix the oil and sugar in the bowl.
Then add the eggs and mix again.
Add in the salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and vanilla and stir the mixture thoroughly.
Dump the apple chunks into the batter and mix it again.
Finally, add in the chopped walnuts, again mixing until they are combined into the batter.
Let the cake cool in the pan sitting on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. After the cake has cooled, gently run a knife edge around the outside and inside of the tube, place a plate or the wire cooking rack on the top of the cake and turn it over. The cake should release when you flip it over. If it doesn’t, turn it back up and gently work the knife in a bit farther bent from the outside rim toward the center. Let it cool further.
A bundt pan is best for this cake. If you use another pan (such as a 10-inch round), adjust the baking time accordingly.
Neutral oils include canola, safflower, and grapeseed. Olive, sesame, and similar oils do not work well in this recipe because their taste is too strong.
Many apple varieties work well in this cake, including Golden and Red Delicious, and Granny Smith. Macintosh and Rome are too soft. I prefer a mixture of 2-3 varieties. I slice them into quarters, then halve each quarter and chop the slices into pieces about 1-inch long. If you’re not immediately going to add them to the batter, sprinkle a bit of lemon juice on the apple chunks to keep them from browning.
Microwaving the juice before adding the raisins, causes the raisins to absorb the liquid and plump up.
I often make this cake ahead of time and freeze it, well wrapped, for a week or longer. But I warn you, the smell is divine and you may not be able to resist taking a taste before you put it away. Happy new year!
Applesauce Cake with Cream Cheese Honey Frosting (The Nosher)
For the cake:
For the frosting:
Blintzes with Apple Compote and Honey Butter (Jewish Food Experience)
Honey Cake Cocktail (Jewish Food Experience)
How to Infuse Honey for Rosh Hashanah (The Nosher)
On Rosh Hashanah, there is a custom to eat apples dipped in honey to bring a sweet new year. As explained in 1001 Questions And Answers About Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur by historian Jeffrey Cohen, honey is the preferred form of sweetness because it is tied to manna, which the Torah describes as “honey-like wafers,” as well as because bees are an apt symbol of God, given their ability to create beauty as well as punish (via a sharp sting).
Regular old honey will certainly satisfy tradition, but why not spruce up your nectar by infusing it with ginger, cloves, vanilla, or even rosemary. Not only will doing so give rise to added dimensions of flavor (which, in turn, can complement different species of apples), any surplus product makes for a lovely New Year’s gift to send to loved ones celebrating Rosh Hashanah from afar.
If the idea of infusing honey has you fearing a sticky situation, rest assured the process is relatively simple and requires minimal planning.
When selecting a honey to infuse, focus on lighter varieties, which tend to be naturally mild and therefore are less likely to contribute other flavors that will “compete” with your infusion ingredients. Looking to make use of that jar that has been sitting in your pantry, since, um, the last millennium? Because honey is one of the few foods that does not spoil, you can probably get away with it, though you may need to remove the crystals that naturally occur over time.
Select your herbs or spices to infuse. The combination of vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks will give rise to a comforting spread that is the perfect for baked goods (try it on babka!), while pairing ginger and nutmeg gives rise to a honey with autumnal notes that is a fitting sweetener for tea, coffee, or milky chai. Consider lavender for a lovely floral essence or chili peppers for a honey that packs some hefty sweet heat. Finally, earthier infusion ingredients, such as thyme, basil, or rosemary, are great for nectars to use in savory meat dishes, such as honey roasted chicken breast or pork tenderloin.
Next measure out your honey and ingredients. For every 1 cup of honey, use roughly 1 to 2 tablespoons of herbs or spices. Note that while fresh herbs will provide stronger flavors, dried versions are preferable as they are easier to measure.
Then, place the infusion ingredients in a glass jar with an air-tight lid along with your honey. Mason jars or any jar with a tight seal and a wide mouth are ideal as they facilitate adding and eventually extracting the infusion elements.
Stir honey with a small wooden spoon in order to best distribute the spices or herbs. Secure the lid of the jar and leave rest for up to two weeks, and remember, the longer you keep the infusion, the stronger its flavor profile will be in the honey.
Strain the infused spices/herbs from the honey into a clean container. And if you’re feeling extra festive, adorn with a bow or a colorful cover. As this tutorial demonstrates, the latter can be easily created by procuring quilting squares from your local craft store (or online), tracing the outline of the jar lid on fabric, and trimming any excess material with shears.
Finish with a label, and, sweet! You have your infused honey.
Mushroom Keftes de Prasa (Sephardic Leek Patties)
A traditional Sephardic Jewish dish, these leek patties are typical of the Balkans and Turkey. They are eaten year round, but customarily served on Passover, when leeks are in season, and on Rosh Hashanah. Leeks (prasa in Turkish) are one of the ceremonial foods that are part of the traditional Yehi Ratzon seder on Rosh Hashanah. They are eaten to symbolize our wish for our enemies to be cut off, or, according to other interpretations, a wish for friendship. While there are several versions of the patties—with ground beef, with or without potatoes—in this vegetarian recipe, I substituted mushroom for the beef and added a handful of spices to mimic the earthy meat flavor a vegetarian could miss.
Neighborhood Provisions - Catering Options!
Let us be the first to say Shanah Tovah! Rosh Hashanah might look a little different this year, but your spread shall not suffer. Neighborhood Provisions is here to make your High Holidays very special. Our very own Chef Jarrad Silver from Birch & Barley has developed a menu of traditional savory and sweet staples: housemade challah, smoked brisket, babka bread pudding – oh my! Pre-order today to get dinner delivered to your door by our veteran staff, trained in all matters of health and safety, from Thursday, September 17th through Sunday, September 20th.
Round Challahs Made Easy (OneTable)
What you need:
Make it happen:
1. Place very warm (but not hot, let the faucet run for a bit) water in a mixing bowl.
2. Add honey, making sweet water. Add yeast, mixing lightly, so it all gets wet.
3. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or so, usually less… until you see little eruptions.
4. While you’re waiting, mix eggs and vegetable oil together in a cup. Add the eggs and vegetable oil to the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon.
5. Add flour and salt.
7. Work it out.
8. Place in oiled bowl(s) and cover in plastic wrap and/or towel.
9. Allow to rise at least one hour in a warm place, preferably more, until dough has risen.
10. After an hour-plus, bring your bowls to the counter/table. If the fates are in your favor, the dough will have doubled in size.
11. Punch gently into each bowl to deflate the dough, and remove it.
12. Knead out all the air bubbles, and get ready to braid!
The Three Braid
If you know how to braid hair/cord/rope, this is the same method. I like to start from the middle, but it’s the same concept. Once you have your long braid, you’ll just arrange it in a spiral pattern, and tuck the end underneath. That’s it! Ta-da!
This looks so fancy, but it’s secretly just a bunch of three-braid challahs. Setting up the middle is the only complicated part, and then it’s just braiding and arranging. Super cute for little individual “challah knots”!
Now it’s time to braid! Using your three-strand braid skills, turn each “side” of the lattice square into a braid.
The Classy Clump
No braiding required! Truly one of my favorite challah styles, and ideal for groups with strong and varied preferences for challah toppings, since you can mix-and-match toppings on different clumps.
The Mixer Dance
So-called because you twist each braid once, then “trade partners” and do it again and again, creating a beautifully entwined final challah.
Place each lower strand over the higher strand next to it, going clockwise for the first round, counter-clockwise for the second round, clockwise again for the third, and so on until you run out of dough.
Sunflower Bakery - Rosh Hashanah Menu Available!
Check out Sunflower Bakery for all of your yummy High Holiday treats! They’ve got everything from Challah to Gluten Free tarts to chocolate crinkle cookies!
Traditional Honey Cake with a Twist (The Nosher)
Optional: 1/4 cup honey,1 Tbsp powdered sugar, and/or 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds for decorating.
For the almond honey cake, add:
For the almond honey cake:
Looking for more catering options?! Expand the list below!
“Every story will ultimately and inevitably crash. You’ll find a more compelling story whose answers you like better. Or an event will occur that makes your story’s answers no longer workable. Or something inside you has shifted. You’ve changed. And those old answers just don’t seem true anymore. Now you’ve got to figure out who you are, what you believe and how you’re going to live your life.” – Rabbi Benay Lappe