The Pandemic Fancy Feast

Pandemic Rosh Hashanah 2020

For Jews around the world, Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish new year — is a holiday filled with family, friends, traditional food, good wishes, blessings, reflection, happiness, and more food.

While this Rosh Hashanah will be different than all others in our lifetimes, the impact of the holidays during the pandemic is incredible. As I was setting the table, preparing individual plates for the symbolic blessings, the significance hit me. Not only were we limited to how many people — and who — could be at our holiday tables, but also the way we experienced our meals would be different.

The food we use for symbolic blessings usually is on the table before guests arrive. When we say the blessings, guests help themselves and use the same serving spoon. People would talk — and breathe freely — while uncovered communal food waited to be devoured.

This year, there was no guest list. My mother and I welcomed the new year together with hopes of a return to normalcy and better days ahead especially good health for all.

I took some photos with the table traditionally set, before removing the communal bowls and separately plating the symbolic foods for each of us. It seemed weird at first, but then felt special. Instead of viewing it as a negative thing we had to do, we appreciated it and even joked how it unintentionally looked a bit fancy. Time will tell if this becomes a new tradition.

Whether we’re enjoying family-style or individually plated holiday dishes isn’t what’s important. For many people, one of the positive outcomes of the pandemic has been a deeper connection to what matters most in their lives, especially good health, safety, and family.

Wishing everyone a healthy, good, and sweet year! Shanah tovah u’metukah!