Rosh Hashanah Gift Ideas: What Gifts to Give on Jewish New Year
There is no real Jewish holiday when gift giving is "official" although with it's proximity to Christmas, Hannuka has become the Jewish holiday when gifts are most often given. If you have Jewish friends and have been invited to Rosh Hashanah dinner then you may be wondering what is the custom of gift giving on the Jewish New Year. On Jewish New Year gift giving is absolutely optional but as a guest invited to someone's house for a celebration it is always good manners to take a small gift or perhaps flowers.
The most appropriate gifts to give at Rosh Hashanah / Jewish New Year are associated with the symbols of the holiday or the symbols of the religion. As Rosh HaShana celebrates a "new" year Rosh HaShana symbols include anything sweet, to bless the recipient with a sweet new year. On the eve of Rosh HaShana apple is dipped in honey to wish a sweet New Year, and so apples are also an appropriate gift in the form of a fruit basket.
Jewish New Year Flowers
As with any invitation to dinner you may choose to bring a bouquet of flowers to your host and that would be acceptable.
Jewish New Year Gift basket
Perhaps the most common Rosh Hashanah gift given in Israel is the food gift basket. In the weeks before the Jewish New Year Israeli stores stock up on gift baskets which are filled mostly with food. The foods included are usually chocolates, honey, wine and dried fruits and raisons. Of course you could include anything in your Rosh Hashanah gift basket but if your Jewish friends keep kosher check all the contents of the food basket are kosher first. You could also make a point of including product from Israel like Jaffa oranges, olive oil and honey. Wrap the gift basket up in cellophane and tie with a beautiful ribbon.
Another kind of gift basket appropriate as a Jewish New Year gift would be a fruit basket. Choose fruits that are exotic or unusual as well as the standard apples and oranges. Remember pomegranates and apples are traditionally part of the Jewish New Year celebration so be sure to include them. The traditional way to eat apples on Rosh Hashanah is to dip them in honey so perhaps arrange the fruit around a good pot of honey. Gift baskets can be created around any theme so use your imagination and perhaps include something small for every member of the family.
An obvious ingredient of merriment and good will is the gift of wine. Make sure the wine is kosher and you have an instant Rosh Hashana gift.
Jewish New Year Apples and Honey
Why not buy a really good honey in an attractive jar and couple that with a basket of apples for the traditional apples dipped in honey.
Jewish New Year kitchenware
After gift baskets kitchen and tableware are the next top Jewish New Year gift given in Israel. Jewish holidays are celebrated with large family meals where a lot of tableware is needed and the table needs to be dressed to impress. A Jewish New Year gift could be something for the household and especially the kitchen or anything associated with the serving of food, as so much food is eaten over the holidays. Any kind of serving dish, fruit bowl, tablecloths, napkin rings/napkins, cutlery, table center pieces or utensils make good Jewish New Year gifts. With this New Year gift you can spend as little or as much as you wish.
Chocolates are always a good gift and with Rosh Hashanah the chocolates go along with the sweet theme, wishing your Jewish friends a sweet new year.
Judaica as a Jewish New Year gift
There are various articles of Judaica that Jews use in their daily religious life and these can also make meaningful New Year gifts. Candlesticks are often given to Jewish women as gifts for use when lighting the Shabbat candles, but the truth is that Jewish families usually have one good set of candlesticks and don't have much use for a spare set. Unless you know that your Jewish friends need a set of candlesticks or if they are newlyweds I would avoid giving candlesticks as a Rosh Hashanah gift. You could give your Jewish friends a bread covering for the Shabbat challah/bread or a wine goblet for the Shabbat Kiddush, the blessing of the wine before the meal. Another Rosh HaShana gift idea is a "natlah" which is a large cup or small jug with handles and this is used for the ritual washing of the hands before eating. There are also special spice holders, and single candlesticks used in the "havdalah" the ceremony which ends Shabbat, these usually come on a small tray. All of these traditional Jewish items can be bought from a Judaica store.
In short make your Jewish New Year gift sweet and full of items either related to the home or the Jewish culture. Hug Samauch!