Thinking I was just going to a small family dinner with my roommate, Chloe, I drove to Beverly Hills. Little did I know I was about to meet every extended relative in Chloe’s family and eat cow tongue!!
Two weeks ago, it was Rosh Hashanah. My roommate is Jewish and invited me to come celebrate with her family. I had never been to a Rosh Hashanah celebration and I had not met her family yet, so I decided it would be a fun cultural and religious experience to go. When I arrived at her grandmother’s house, there were about 15 cars there and I could see the many aunts and uncles and little cousins running around inside. After making the rounds of meeting all of her welcoming relatives, we began the celebration. It starts off with eating a series of different foods, all of which mean something correlating to the New Year.
While the people at the table would go around and say the Hebrew prayer that correlated to the specific food, Chloe’s 10-year-old cousin would whisper the translation to me. I learned that apples and honey are eaten to signify a sweet start to the New Year, pomegranates are eaten because they are newly in season and we are going into a new season, and leeks are bitten and ripped in half to signify defeating any enemy. No one seemed to want to discuss the significance of the cow tongue, though. Everyone was just anxiously waiting with grins on their faces to see if I would try it. With all the pressure, I, of course, gave in and took a bite. I’ll say that it definitely was not my favorite thing in the world, but it wasn’t as scary as I was anticipating it to be!
I ended up learning a lot about the Jewish culture and about the Jewish New Year, and I had a blast celebrating with Chloe’s family! They were so much fun and were so willing to include me and to fill me in on all of the traditions. My freshman year, I took a Jewish History class as a general elective requirement, so I was able to somewhat understand some of the traditions. It was cool knowing some of the history behind the different Jewish holidays from an academic viewpoint.
So far, this has been one of my standout experiences from the first month of junior year. It’s been a crazy start to the semester, but I can definitely say that I am learning a lot of new things both inside and outside of school!