getting ready for 5779

Special gifts for your hosts at Rosh Hashanah


Invited to someone’s house for a Rosh Hashanah meal and looking for an appropriate gift? In addition to the always-appreciated flowers or bottle of wine, here are some other must-have (or must-give) items for the Jewish New Year.

Coffee Table Book

We are the Am Hasefer, after all. Give your host a copy of Michael J. Weinstein’s beautiful Ten Times Chai to display. In over 300 glossy pages, the book takes you on a photographic tour of 180 beautiful and historic Orthodox shuls across  New York City’s five boroughs.

Jewish cookbooks

If your host invited you over for a home-cooked meal, he or she probably likes to cook. The four books listed here were published within the last couple of years, so there’s a good chance your host doesn’t yet own them — and what better than a cookbook to subtly convey to your host that you’d love more holiday meal invitations? 

“Modern Jewish Baker: Challah, Babka, Bagels & More” is written by Shannon Sarna, the editor of The Nosher food blog. In this gorgeous book, she pays homage to Jewish baking traditions while reinvigorating them with modern flavors and new ideas.

The mother-daughter team of Gabrielle Rossmer Gropman and Sonya Gropman in “The German-Jewish Cookbook: Recipes and History of a Cuisine” features recipes for German-Jewish cuisine as it existed in Germany prior to World War II, and as refugees later adapted it in the United States and elsewhere. The dishes are a departure from better-known Eastern European Jewish fare and focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Israeli baker Uri Scheft’s “Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking” offers sweet and savory recipes for European, Israeli and Middle Eastern favorites.

For vegan cooks — or those who often have a vegan family member or guest at their table — “The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook: Entertaining for Absolutely Every Occasion” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz offers meat-, dairy- and egg-free recipes for Rosh Hashanah and the Yom Kippur break-the-fast, as well as dishes for a variety of other Jewish and non-Jewish holidays.

Honey dishes

It is traditional to dip apples in honey on Rosh Hashanah, and a special honey dish can add extra beauty to the practice. Attractive dishes, some bearing the words shana tova umetuka (a good and sweet new year) in Hebrew, are available in Judaica stores and online.


Why dip good apples and challah in mediocre honey? The Savannah Bee Company, a gourmet honey purveyor, sells a variety of beautifully packaged artisanal honeys, including several variety packs. Or encourage your host to sample some raw honeycomb. The company also sells numerous other honey-based products, like body lotions and soaps. All honey is KSA kosher-certified.

Jewish calendars

While many, if not most, people rely on digital calendars for day-to-day scheduling, a pretty wall calendar makes a nice decoration and can help keep a household organized (and, with many calendars, easily reminded of candlelighting and Havdalah times). Most Jewish calendars sold in the United States list secular dates as well as Hebrew ones (including all the holidays, of course), and run through the end of the next Gregorian year. (So one that starts with Rosh Hashanah in 2018 will last you until December 2019.) You can find a wide selection online and in Judaica stores, bookstores and museum shops.

Assorted items

Barbara’s Gifts is based in Israel but ships to the United States. Its Rosh Hashanah gift box contains a pomegranate hand towel, pomegranate challah cover, Jewish calendar tea towel, pomegranate-shaped trivet, pomegranate fabric placemats, a pomegranate notepad and set of Rosh Hashanah greeting cards.

If your host likes scented candles, try an apples-and-honey one (the pictured candle is available on Amazon). Just make sure you don’t try to eat it after reading the description: “Brown sugar glazed apples blended with warm cinnamon, golden clove and grated nutmeg wrapped in sweet caramel honey drizzles and hints of pure maple syrup.” The same vendor also features a variety of pomegranate-scented candles.

Off the beaten path

A Rosh Hashanah-themed smartphone case? Luxlady makes covers for popular iPhone and Android models.

How about accessorizing with High Holiday- themed nail decals from Midrash Manicures.

Nothing quite right? Try searching for Rosh Hashanah on Etsy or visit The Sabra Patch, an Etsy-like online store for Israeli artists.

Whatever you buy, best wishes for a sweet and happy New Year!

The Jewish Star contributed to this report.