A tasty Simchat Torah
The Jewish Internet with Mark Mietkiewicz
Special To The Dayton Jewish Observer
Passover has matzah. Purim has hamantashen. Even Shavuot has blintzes. But what about Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah? No special foods may spring to mind.
The seventh and final day of Sukkot is called Hoshana Rabbah, which comes 10 days after Yom Kippur and shares some traditions with the Day of Atonement (http://bit.ly/simchat1). The cantor wears white and chants prayers using Yom Kippur tunes. And in honor of both holidays, we eat kreplach, triangular pockets of dough with meat or other stuffing.
Actually we eat kreplach in honor of three holidays: on Purim, too. All these days share a common theme: personal or collective survival. On Yom Kippur we are judged. On Hoshana Rabbah the judgment that was rendered on Yom Kippur is “sealed.” And on Purim, the existence of the entire Jewish people was threatened, and we eventually triumphed (http://bit.ly/simchat2).
As to why we eat kreplach, the Nishmas site suggests that judgment, symbolized by meat, is clothed in kindness, symbolized by the dough (http://bit.ly/simchat3). Now that you know why, you can take your pick of 13 kreplach recipes in the Jewish Food Archives including bite-sized meat, chicken liver, and cheese (http://bit.ly/simchat4).
When Hoshana Rabbah ends, we turn to Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah when we complete and then restart the annual cycle of reading the Torah. The URJ’s Jewish Parent Page says you can learn a lovely lesson while baking a Simchat Torah Challah with dough shaped like the Hebrew letters lamed and bet.
“The last word in Deuteronomy is Yisrael and the first word in Genesis is Bereshit. If you take the final letter of Yisrael, the lamed, and the first letter of Bereshit, the bet, and put them together they spels leib in Yiddish and lev in Hebrew, which means heart. The midrash tells us that the Torah is the lev, the heart of the Jewish people (http://bit.ly/simchat5).”
Or how about enjoying Penny Eisenberg’s Orange Crepe Scrolls? “Place two crepes right next to each other on each plate, so that they look like Torah scrolls. Stick the slivers of orange rind into the top and bottom of each roll to look like the Torah poles.” Enjoy them with Grilled Spiced Citrus Chicken Kebabs and Biscotchos, Sephardic Crunchy Orange Almond Cookies (http://bit.ly/simchat6).
Still hungry? There’s Honey-Orange Chicken, Susie Fishbein’s Moussaka, Basic Stuffed Cabbage as well as Unstuffed Cabbage where you can “get that great taste without all the work (http://bit.ly/simchat7).”
Joni Schockett says that Simchat Torah is a joyous holiday particularly for kids: a time to sing, dance and even call children up to the Torah. “This special aliyah recognizes and honors our children who are the embodiment of our hopes and our continuity.”
Schockett feels that this is a perfect time to prepare some delicious treats which parents and kids can work on together. On the Schockett menu: Best Ever Chicken Fingers, Carrot Raisin Pineapple and Almond Salad and Jumbo Apple Raisin Spice Cookies (http://bit.ly/simchat9).
Second only to Purim, Jews have been known to raise a glass or two on Simchat Torah to celebrate (responsibly, please) our never-ending relationship with the Torah.
While some may opt for schnapps, vodka or perhaps a single malt, Tamar Fox suggests some nice Jewish cocktails to enliven the holiday: The Ashkenazi: fill a glass with ice. Float one part vanilla milk, one part coffee liqueur, one part vodka. The Sephardi: an Ashkenazi with a little chocolate mixed in. And the oh-so-exotic sounding “Manischevetini”: 2 oz. vodka, 1/2 oz. orange juice, 1/2 oz. Manischewitz. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake well; serve. Garnish with an orange twist if desired (http://bit.ly/simchat8).
Mark Mietkiewicz may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.