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L’shanah tova! Happy New Year 5774, Chicago!

Tzimmes at The-Bagel.

Tzimmes at The-Bagel.

Dining Chicago wishes a most happy, healthy and delicious New Year to everyone celebrating Rosh Hashana today ad tomorrow.

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, begins the “Days of Awe,” the holiest period on the Jewish calendar, which culminate Sept. 14 on the fast day, Yom Kippur. Unlike the Western New Year, celebrations don’t involve drinking and carousing. Although a glass or two of ceremonial wine is called for at a celebratory supper, and there is a noisemaker — the shofar, a ram’s horn — the holiday is spent in contemplation and prayer.

During this contemplative time, Jews repent their sins and ask forgiveness from God and from anyone they may have wronged. They believe that God opens the Book of Life on Rosh Hashana and closes it at Yom Kippur with the names of the righteous inside. “L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem,” the traditional Hebrew holiday greeting, means “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”

Symbolic foods such as honey and other sweet dishes, denoting hopes for a sweet year ahead, feature on many tables, with foods like apples dipped in honey and honey cake; fish, a symbol of fertility, sometimes served head on (or just as the head), because Rosh Hashana means “head of the year”; round, crown-shaped loaves of challah, ditto; carrots, sliced crosswise to symbolize coins, for prosperity, typically in a stew called tzimmes.