You’ve been invited to Rosh Hashanah dinner but you don’t know what to bring for a Rosh Hashanah hostess gift? Don’t worry! There are plenty of options. First of all, food is an excellent gift to bring if invited to a Rosh Hashanah dinner. One of the ways this holiday is celebrated is with certain “auspicious” foods that symbolize good wishes for the New Year. When eaten, the desires embodied in the foods become internalized. But there are also some nice options for hostess gift ideas that aren’t edible, although still appropriate for Rosh Hashanah. If this is your first Rosh Hashanah celebration, learn more about the Rosh Hashanah traditions to celebrate the New Year!
Below we offer some hostess gifts that are specific to Rosh Hashanah, and others that work for Rosh Hashanah or for any Jewish holiday.
Hostess Gifts Specific for Rosh Hashanah
A Jar of Honey – Honey is ubiquitous during Rosh Hashanah because it is the quintessential symbol of “sweetness”, at least among most Jewish households in the United States. Challah bread or apples are traditionally dipped into honey and blessed to bring good wishes for the New Year. There are many local honeys available in the markets these days: some come from hives on small farms, others from roof-top aviaries. Since the honey is made from flowers and flora in the immediate vicinity of the hives, the flavors of local honeys are very distinct. Bringing a jar of honey (or even several small jars that make up a “flight”) is a lovely hostess gift perfectly suited for a Rosh Hashanah dinner celebration. Do be sure to bring honey that is certified kosher if your hostess keeps a kosher household!
A Fresh Fruit Gift Basket – Fruit is typically eaten at a Rosh Hashanah dinner, especially apples and pomegranates. A small fresh fruit basket that is easy to carry makes a beautiful presentation that can even be used as a centerpiece to the Rosh Hashanah table! And fresh fruit is naturally kosher, too! (These are our favorite Rosh Hashanah gift baskets.)
Kosher Chocolates – In keeping with the theme of sweet treats for the holiday, a Rosh Hashanah hostess gift of kosher chocolates can be just the right gesture. Nothing says “Have a Sweet New Year” like chocolate!
Challah – If your hosts are having a pot-luck Rosh Hashanah dinner, you might want to bring something for the meal. Challah is typically consumed over the blessing of bread at the beginning of every Shabbot meal and Jewish holiday. However, during Rosh Hashanah, the challah bread is shaped into a circle (instead of its usual oblong) to represent the circle of life and the ending of the old year and beginning of the new. And instead of being dipped into salt before consumption, it is dipped into honey or sugar to symbolize the wish for sweetness in the New Year. Your hosts will likely have planned to provide the challah since it is such a main feature of the Rosh Hashanah meal. But if you have the perfect kosher bakery in your neighborhood, or if the dinner party will be large, you can certainly ask your host if you can have the honor of bringing the challah. And if you do, don’t be late because the celebration can’t start without you!
Hostess Gifts That Work for Rosh Hashanah or any Jewish Holiday
Flowers – Flowers are always a welcome hostess gift whether for Rosh Hashanah or any other holiday. The only time that bringing flowers is not appropriate for a Jewish household, is for a shiva, the ritual week-long period of mourning after the death of a loved one.
Accessories for the Dining Table – Serving dishes, serving utensils, pretty cloth napkins, placemats or napkin rings all make thoughtful Rosh Hashanah hostess gifts or hostess gifts for any occasion. If it is for a Rosh Hashanah celebration, your hosts may decide to use your gift that very evening as it could represent something “new” and commemorate the New Year. Be sure not the wash the gift beforehand if your host family keeps kosher and you do not, because if you do, they will not be able to use it!
Judaica – Judaica are all the religious articles used in daily Jewish life, such as a special cloth to cover the bread or a large wine goblet used for the Kiddush before the meal. These items may be used at the Rosh Hashanah meal as well as throughout the year. Shopping at a Judaica store will present lots of other possible hostess gift ideas for Rosh Hashanah and Shabbot meals.
When invited to a dinner, it’s always polite to bring a hostess gift, even if it’s just a small one! When the occasion is a Jewish holiday, like Rosh Hashanah, be sure what you bring is kosher, unless you are positive that the family does not keep a kosher kitchen. You can never go wrong with fresh seasonal fruit which is naturally kosher! Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on Wednesday, September 20th and ends on the evening of Friday, September 22nd.