MADRID, Spain, August 26 — Soon Jewish families and congregations around the world will be getting together to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. Few are familiar with a Sephardic custom of a Rosh Hashanah Seder – a festive meal rich in symbolism. This new cookbook from the Reform Jewish Community of Madrid (English-language edition) is designed to teach people about this ancient tradition and – for those who are interested in organizing their own Seder – it provides recipes and tools to do it.
“When we realized that this custom was virtually unknown among the non-Sephardic Jewish diaspora we decided that we had to share it,” said Yael Cobano, the President of the Reform Jewish Community of Madrid. “It’s a beautiful tradition and it connects us with our ancestors and our history”.
The cookbook follows the structure of the Sephardic Rosh Hashanah Seder. It’s broken up in eight sections, each dedicated to one siman, or a symbolic ingredient. The symbolic ingredients can vary from one Sephardic community to another but for this book – and for their Seders – the Reform Jewish Community of Madrid has chosen to use dates, squash, leeks, beets, beans, apple & honey, pomegranate, and fish head.
“Members of the Madrid community worked together to collect recipes from their families so that this book represents them,” said Sara M. Gardner, the Editor of The Rosh Hashanah Seder Cookbook: Recipes & Stories from the Reform Jewish Community of Madrid. “Because the community is very diverse, recipes that are included in the book aren’t only Sephardic. There are Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, and even traditional Spanish recipes – adapted for the Rosh Hashanah Seder, of course.”
Each recipe in the book comes accompanied by a story from a family that contributed it. There is also a menu section at the end of the book. The dishes in each menu are grouped according to either a season or a geography that represents one particular tradition, like, for example, an Ottoman-Sephardic Menu or a Spanish Menu or an Israeli-Inspired Menu.
The community also recorded an instructional video about how to lead your own Rosh Hashanah Seder. If you are interested in hosting Sara M. Gardner for a talk in your synagogue or Jewish community center, please contact CJRM at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule her visit. She can speak about the Rosh Hashanah Seder tradition as well as about Sephardic communities and their gastronomy in general.
The cookbook is available on Amazon and all proceeds from its sale will go towards developing and strengthening the Reform Jewish Community of Madrid.
About the Reform Jewish Community of Madrid
Founded by four women in 2014, the Reform Jewish Community of Madrid is the only Reform congregation in the city and the second largest in Spain. It provides home for those wanting to practice Progressive Judaism. The Community gets together weekly for Shabbat services and joint potluck congregation dinners – as well as to celebrate all Jewish holidays and life cycle events.