Ronnie Katz Gerber
Communications Chair, Hadassah Los Angeles Metro Region

The Rush to Rosh Hashanah

Photo courtesy of Hadassah.
Photo courtesy of Hadassah.

This time of year is so busy. There are the High Holidays and this year I’m doing more than usual, but a little differently. I’ve changed the menu so there will be about a dozen different plates for the 14 guests to enjoy. Friends and family will help, but, as they say, I’m “the hostess with the mostest.”

We’ll start with the traditional chicken soup and matzah balls, which my family insists on, no matter what the season. I make the matzah balls light and fluffy, with a little dill and parsley for freshness. We’ll have my lokshen kugel (noodle pudding) and some chopped liver, too.

Photo courtesy of Hadassah.

My friend Ellen makes the best chopped liver, so that’s her assignment. I’ll make the round challah (also known as a crown challah) with raisins. I love to bake, and I make challah each week for Shabbat. I’ll also prepare a turkey breast stuffed with pistachios and diced dry fruit, as well as tzimmes (a vegetable stew with carrots), cooked together with brisket so it’s almost like pot roast.

Photo courtesy of Hadassah.

We’ll have sides of roasted carrots and grilled asparagus, which my friend Cheryl will bring (she makes the best veggies). For dessert, Cousin Jen from Atlanta will bring rugelach; Margie, an apple cake; and Ellen, a coffee walnut cake (so yummy). I’ll make the traditional orange honey cake. It’s the Jewish New Year and that means lots of sweets. A diabetic’s nightmare.

This year, my son will once again bring up the folding chairs and long folding tables from the storeroom and help to set up the kitchen. The breakfast table will be moved to the patio and, weather permitting, will hold all the desserts. The meal itself will be buffet style. We’ll set up the buffet in the dining room, with   the table expanded, and we will move the dining room chairs into the living room for extra seating while we schmooze before dinner. Drinks will be available on the makeshift bar/peninsula in the kitchen. So much to do!

Then there’s the creative touch — one of my favorite things to provide. That’s why my friends and family give in to me when I request the task. I always make the decor pretty and festive. I cover the folding chairs with beautiful seat covers (I think I’ll use red this year). I set the table with care, making sure to coordinate the colors. I have so many sets of everything, in different colors and patterns, that my guests all tease me. I have jars from Costco, which make great low vases for the middle of the table because we can see each other over them and talk, talk, talk. That’s what we do almost as well as we eat — both with love and vigor.

For me, High Holiday preparation will begin September 1. In the meantime, I’m knee-deep in my rabbi’s class about David and Bathsheba. You may know that King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, who became pregnant. Upon learning of Bathsheba’s condition, David tried to cover up his sin and eventually arranged for Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, to be killed in battle and took Bathsheba as one of his wives.

Is David a sinner? Is Bathsheba a willing partner? Is David a ruthless warrior? Is he truly repentant? So much to discuss, with the help of ancient and modern commentaries, as well as over 100 Medieval and Renaissance paintings and modern art pieces. I think of Sister Wendy, the British nun who strolled through the best museums and described, with a twinkle of mischief in her eyes, what we just might see in those paintings. I hope to bring a bit of that sense of merriment to our Rosh Hashanah table discussions.

In the meantime, Hadassah Southern California and LA Metro are revving up for the fall season. We will begin with a mah jongg fundraiser in a member’s backyard. About 40 of us will gather under the covered walkway that outlines the expansive rolling lawn with its lovely trees and flowers. We will play mahjongg on the patio, adjacent to a refreshing pool. You couldn’t ask for a more idyllic setting to welcome the new Hadassah year.

I’m bringing about five dozen of my homemade Mexican wedding cookies, as well as a folding card table. I’ll carry in bottles of Prosecco, too. Just like with my Rosh Hashanah meal, it’s teamwork that makes this event possible. This time, it’s my Hadassah colleagues who pitch in.

Hurry up! It’s the rush to Rosh Hashanah. 

About the Author
Ronnie Katz Gerber is currently Communications Chair for the Hadassah Metro Los Angeles Region and a member of the Hadassah Writers' Circle. A retired English and drama teacher for one of the largest school districts in California, she has written, directed and produced a handful of curriculum-based plays for her students and received a Los Angeles Awards nomination for her educational outreach through the arts. She has now turned her attention to columns, articles and short stories. Ms. Gerber is active in the community doing volunteer work and also spends her time pursuing her avid interest in travel. She has visited most of Europe, Russia and Africa, China and a bit of South America as well. Most springs, she hosts foreign exchange students for a month while they take an American culture and language crash course at a local university. As a result, she has spent time with them and their families abroad. Her family, especially her grand girls are the best activity of any day.
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