By Kayla Kaplan
Shana Tovah, Happy (Jewish) New Year!
One of my favorite aspects of veganism is how it motivates me to explore my Jewish identity, culture, and religion. These two aspects are major parts of who I am and it’s important to me that they align in a way that is meaningful and intentional.
Throughout my 7 years of veganism I have begun to connect with more members of the Jewish community who are also vegan and vegans who are also Jewish. Thankfully I have been seeing more baked goods, packaged goods, recipes, media, and services tailored to other vegan Jews. So, of course, I decided to look for vegan-friendly options within New England for the upcoming High Holidays.
Although we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a major election, and a revolution for racial justice, our holidays continue. As Jews we are no stranger to keeping traditions alive despite an adverse environment, read here about Reimagining the High Holidays in a Pandemic.
This year, High Holidays begin with Rosh Hashanah on the evening of September 18th and then Yom Kippur on September 27th. The 10 days in between are the Days of Atonement or repentence. Many of the traditions are already vegan-friendly although other customs do have to be altered. On a personal note, I recommend doing what you can in a way that feels right. Observing Jewish customs in our non Jewish world and adhering to veganism in a non-vegan world may present challenges that are beyond personal control. Focus on why you are vegan and why you are observing the holidays and appreciate any steps of progress or personal growth you can make.
Vegan-Friendly High Holiday Rituals
- Apples & agave: Dip apples in a sweetener of your choice to welcome in a sweet New Year. Can you taste the symbolism!?
- Yehi Ratzones: Dates, leeks, beets, spinach, squash, black-eyed peas, pomegranates, and more. The blessings for these foods are found here. For further information on traditional foods read this article about The Joys of a Mizrahi Rosh Hashanah Seder
- Kapparot/Kaporos: While this ritual is popularized by the media as one of animal sacrifice, it is much more common to observe by donating money. The full ritual text and instructions can be found here.
- Refraining from wearing leather shoes. Leather made from the skin of an animal is not vegan and is avoided on Yom Kippur as part of the symbolism of denying certain physical comforts. More info here.
- For more Rosh Hashanah customs read here.
There are many informative and educational materials on the High Holidays that can go in greater, more accurate detail than I. Some comprehensive sources are Chabad.Org, this Rosh Hashanah FAQ and a Yom Kippur FAQ by My Jewish Learning.
The following information is a starter list that I expect will (hopefully) continue to grow and be full of updates for next year (5782). To contribute to this list please email email@example.com.
Vegan Options for the Jewish High Holidays:
- New Haven, CT: Edge of the Woods Market has an array of vegan baked goods and kosher food items
- Bangor, ME: Biggi’s bakery makes vegan challah along with other breads and baked goods. To order call 207-217-4148 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or through Facebook.
- Boston, MA: Cafe Landwer has a permanent vegan menu with fresh baked Lotus Rozelach for dessert
- Brookline, MA: Vegan honey from Allium Market
- Cambridge, MA: High Holidays Menu from Mamaleh’s Deli with labeled vegan options
- Cambridge, MA: Sofra Bakery & Cafe offers vegan Halawa, Turkish Delight, peanuts, and spices as special Favors
- Newton, MA: Get Kosher/Pareve baked goods from Blacker’s Bakeshop, options available for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
- Somerville, MA: Chelsea is available for custom baked goods with limited availability, email email@example.com to order
- Providence, RI: Like No Udder has limited knishes and babka, be sure to pre-order
- Burlington, VT: Knead Bakery offers vegan Challah for pick-up along with house-made cheeses and other bakery goods
Other resources for your High Holidays:
15 vegan dishes to serve at your Rosh Hashanah celebration courtesy of My Jewish Learning
Free Streamable Rosh Hashanah Services a resource from My Jewish Learning
- How to Have a Meaningful Rosh Hashanah When You’re Alone from Hey Alma
- Online events from JewishBoston including: Preparing for the High Holidays with Rabbi David, Pre-Rosh Hashana L’chaim, an Online Rosh Hashanah Experience, and a Shofar and Tashlich Celebration at Boston Public Garden
Wishing you a meaningful High Holiday time, however you observe. Shana Tovah or in the words of Rabbi Ruttenberg via Twitter Shnat mahapach, a year of revolution!
Kayla’s passion is plant-based food, in fact it’s what she spends most of her time thinking about. Along with being a Co-CEO of VeganZine Kayla recently graduated from Tufts University with a Master’s of Science in Food & Nutrition Policy & Programs with a focus on Nutrition Innovation & Communication.
Connect with Kayla on Instagram!