Now known as the Rosh Hashanah seder, this is a “program” run through at the start of a Rosh Hashanah meal, where we partake of a series of symbolic foods (the 'simanim') each followed by a specific blessing.
"Simanim" – literally means signs or indicators – that are meant to point the way to improved circumstances.
Observant Jews take this quite seriously, preceding their consumption of these foods on Rosh Hashanah with a specific, heartfelt prayer connected to the character of the food.
For example, because a pomegranate is full of seeds, many people eat a pomegranate after saying, “May it be Your will, Hashem, our G-d and G-d of our forefathers, that our merits increase as [the seeds of] a pomegranate.” In other words, we’d like to maximize the “merits” (engendered by doing mitzvot) on our personal tally sheets. And what that really means is that we want to be worthy of G-d’s abundant blessings – and this necessitates focusing our minds on how to make ourselves worthy.
Likewise, if you want to build a nice Jewish family, express that desire by eating fish after saying, “May it be your will Hashem, our G-d and G-d of our forefathers, that we be fruitful and multiply like fish.”
Some of the most fascinating simanim are based on word play. A generation ago, Jews in the Ukraine fed their children chicken livers on Rosh Hashanah because the Yiddish word for livers, leberlach is homophonous with leb ehrlich, “live honestly.” Typically Jewish, isn’t it? Even a kiddie snack is a lesson in ethics!
There are lots of other "simanim" we could use in recipes —fish heads, beets, carrots, gourd, or black-eyed peas—but they’re not all that appetizing for a dessert. For dessert, I tapped the trusty pomegranate—finish your Rosh Hashanah meal with a super 'siman' swirl!
Prep Time : 5 min
Cook Time : 15 + 60 chill min
Ready Time : 20 min
½ cup pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 pint pareve vanilla frozen dessert or ice cream
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
1 store-bought pareve chocolate loaf cake or your own
Prepare syrup: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine pomegranate juice and sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until reduced by half.
Meanwhile, remove frozen dessert from the freezer and let soften for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; swirl in 2 tablespoons pomegranate syrup and seeds. Return to the freezer for 1 hour.
To serve, slice loaf into 8 slices. Top with a scoop of frozen dessert, and drizzle with remaining pomegranate syrup.