We’re all familiar with the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah—its traditions, joys and significance for us Jews as the very first of the year’s High Holy Days. In fact, its traditions are so well established that most of us are unaware of the countless Rosh Hashanah ideas that have been suggested, pitched and attempted over the centuries—but have failed to catch on for a variety of reasons. Allow me, if you will, to shine a light on 10 of the most interesting of these Rosh Hashanah Ideas that failed to catch on.
- Non-Animal Shofar
Naturally, Jews who are vegetarian or vegan are going to prefer a shofar that not only is not made from a ram’s horn, but one that has nothing at all to do with any animal products whatsoever. Somehow, however, the Fried Tofu Shofar just didn’t win a lot of fans. Structurally, for starters, it just would not stay together. Repeated blowing only served to soften it further. Finally, people just gave up on it, cut it up into bite-sized pieces and added it to their stir-fry.
- Honey Don’t
Perhaps Rosh Hashanah’s most symbolic food is apples dipped in honey to symbolize a sweet new year. Because honey is an animal product, coming as it does from bees, vegan chef Rhonda Erlanger decided to come up with a vegan alternative. Sadly, her big push for curried organic kale crisps dipped into a tofu-sauerkraut puree never quite captured the imaginations and taste buds of the Chosen People.
- “Take it easy on the blintzes!”
The Hebrew common greeting on Rosh Hashanah is “Shanah Tovah,” which means “(have a) good year.” There have been numerous efforts to change, update, and/or improve the greeting. The least-successful of these was, “Don’t eat too many blintzes,” which, despite its health orientation, was seen as intrusive, insulting, and not truly within the boundaries of a happy new year greeting.
- The fourth book
Rosh Hashanah is also the day of “Yom Hadin”, known as Judgment day. On Yom Hadin, 3 books are opened, the book of life, for the righteous among the nations, the book of death, for the most evil who receive the seal of death, and the third book for the ones living in doubts with non-evil sins. A fourth book was pitched to all the world’s major rabbis. The book was to contain jokes, cartoons, crossword puzzles, connect the dot pictures, and Sudoku. The rabbis’ silent response was deafening.
- “You first”
The ritual of tashlikh is performed on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah by Ashkenazic and most Sephardic Jews. Prayers are recited near natural flowing water, and one’s sins are symbolically cast into the water. Many also have the custom to throw bread or pebbles into the water, to symbolize the “casting off” of sins. One rabbi suggested that worshippers also remove their clothing and cast them into the water. After a series of “You first” exclamations were uttered by all worshippers present, the idea was never brought up again. The rabbi, however, was spotted at a clothing-optional beach shortly thereafter.
- The RH High Five
One progressive young rabbi suggested that Jews do a Rosh Hashanah high five, while saying, “Yo, happy Rosh Hashanah, bro! How’s it hangin’?” This did not capture the hearts and minds of any Jews worldwide. Though it did produce numerous stunned and disbelieving responses from those who experienced it.
- Adam & Eve Pancake Molds
Rosh Hashanah is said to be the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, and their first actions toward the realization of humanity’s role in God’s world. Still, the Adam & Eve Pancake Molds didn’t exactly catch fire when introduced during a special Rosh Hashanah edition of the Home Shopping Network. The Hanukkah Dreidel Pancake Molds did much better. But I digress.
- Rosh Hashanah Parade Marshall Donald Trump
Parades and carnivals are much more suited to Purim and Hanukkah. And when you add Donald Trump into the mix, it’s even more over the top. Still, one has to admire Trump’s chutzpah for even agreeing to this blatant ploy to win the Jewish vote. What’s next, Trump praying in front of the Wailing Wall? Please don’t suggest it to him; he’ll do it.
- Kissing Under the Gefilte Fish
Mistletoe is associated with Western Christmas as a decoration, under which lovers are expected to kiss. And enterprising gefilte fish company honor tried to create a Jewish version of that tradition. He gave out thousands of small gefilte fish with instructions on how to hang them up during Rosh Hashanah and kiss beneath them. Never caught on.
- Clothing-Optional Rosh Hashanah Synagogue Services
Rabbi Mendel Tzvi Faulkenstein of East Orange, New Jersey felt that a clothing-optional Rosh Hashanah service would bring congregants back to nature and to the innocence of those when first born. He also felt it would be excellent branding for his newly established house of worship. Still, when he was released from prison, he agreed never to attempt it again.
Mark Miller is a comedy writer who has performed stand-up comedy in nightclubs and on TV, written on numerous sit-com staffs, been a humor columnist for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate and is a current humor columnist for The Huffington Post. His first book, a collection of his humor essays on dating and romance, was published this year. Its title: “500 Dates: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the Online Dating Wars.” But Mark says his needs are simple: that Scarlet Johansson respect his restraining order.