Michelle Rojas-Tal


Apple picking right before Rosh Hashana is a Jewish parent’s dream: the ideal picture of the kids, holding the apples, beautiful orchard in the background and bam!

Rosh Hashana greeting magic.

Except the sun is blistering.

One kid refuses to smile and the other one is obsessing over finding a baby apple to decorate the table with…

I only recently decide that Rosh Hashana indeed is my favorite Jewish holiday.

It was a close call with Hanukkah and Sufganiyot understandably, but Rosh Hashana took the win.

And it was only now I realized why.

Maybe it’s the songs my oldest daughter sings as she scribbles away images of apples and pomegranates.

Or when I ordered the honey bourbon cake made with Zeke’s coffee…

It is actually that good.

But what confirmed it for me was the small act of getting the numbers in order as we posed, depleted and thirsty, for our Rosh Hashana family shot.


“That’s a big number Mommy. And it’s different than the American year that we are in.”

(I just go with the American year because I figure an explanation of the Gregorian calendar is a bit much for a 6.2 year old)


“Yes it’s different. The Jewish calendar is much older.”

I have always enjoyed the opportunity to look forward to a new year.

Reflecting on the past.

Looking forward to the future.

For even the most cynical amongst us, it offers the opportunity for optimism and hope.

As we sit around the table, we take part in a tradition that has taken place for millennia.

My daughters don’t yet realize it, but that 5780, takes them back to their ancestors on the rivers of Babylon.

It takes them back the city they were born in: Jerusalem.

It takes them back to a nomadic trail across Europe; partially ending our family lineage on train cars leading to a dark abyss…

5780 will bring us to our 3rd year on Shlichut.

Where we have had the chance to fall in love and appreciate our Zionism and Jewish identity all over again.

Where we have had incredible experiences as a family.

As well as very challenging ones.

Where we have made friends for life and played our small part in bringing people closer to Israel.

5780 is a chance to start anew.

Apples and honey are a household trademark snack for us.

But at this time of year, we aren’t drizzling our honey on the apples.

We will take the time to dip them.

(And remind one another not to double dip)

And in that small act, we will try to cover as much of our apple in the sweetness of the honey and pray for the sweetest year ahead.

As a great friend reminds me time and again, we are indeed so lucky to be alive in this time.

In this moment.

So 5780 watch out…

Because here we come!

Shana tova to all of my Shlichim who I adore and give thanks for each and every day.

Shana tova to all of Am Israel.

May it be a year filled with health, love and adventure.

About the Author
Michelle Rojas-Tal is a global speaker, trailblazer and advocate on Zionism, Jewish identity, and Israel engagement. Amongst her current projects, Michelle serves as the Zionist Scholar-in-Residence at Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America.
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