Shake It Up: New Traditions For Your New Year

It’s always made perfect sense to me to celebrate the New Year in the fall rather than on the first of January. In the winter you wake up (let’s face it: hungover) to the prospect of long cold weeks, the earth frozen and dormant. There is no feeling of rebirth; no desire to get outside from under blankets and embrace the world; no incentive to make truly significant resolutions beyond vowing to eat and drink less. In Toronto, where I grew up, my first glimpse of New Year's Day was unfailingly snow gusting sideways...

Spring might be the more intuitive season in which to celebrate the New Year -- after all, we are supposed to be celebrating the month (Tishrei) when God created the world -- yet there is a strong feeling of rebirth in the fall too. Seductive summer finally releases her hold on our psyche. Vacations end, school and jobs resume. We are ready to look forward rather than live in the moment; ready to think hard about the coming year and its challenges. In turn, we are more willing to think hard about ourselves.  The late summer and fall harvests, meanwhile, empty their cornucopia into the markets with vegetables and fruits we have waited months to enjoy. The tomatoes are never riper nor juicier; apples never crispier nor available in so many different varieties. Sweetness abounds, with or without honey. 

This is the North American experience, of course. In Israel there are many different ways, and different foods, to celebrate the holiday season. In the coming weeks, Fig Tree & Vine will be bringing you recipes and inspirations for the High Holy Days that are as varied as the incoming harvest. We’ll check out the holiday menus from the hot chefs of Israel;  our Break Fast will be Moroccan-themed. And of course we are rolling out beautiful new products, created by our artisans exclusively for Fig Tree & Vine.


A Modern Rustic Rosh Hashanah: Fig Tree & Vine's Exclusive Birdseye Maple and Cherrywood Servers, with Belgian Linen Challah Covers by Lake House Linens
I love putting problems to John Ward of Treeware, our Canadian-based master woodworker. I came across some beautiful candle holders of his in a small country shop and immediately reached out to him to make Jewish products for FT&V. While not Jewish himself, John's enjoyed the challenge of creating for us stunning, simple pieces from reclaimed or sustainable wood. (See our Shabbat line of Modern Rustic challah boards and candle holders.) In prep for the holidays, I asked John to create two products: an apple and honey serving board, and a round challah board. The first he made out of cherry wood. You’ll see that the symbolically round serving board with inset bowl for honey is right at home in any setting. Take it outside; place it on top of your Mid-Century coffee table for all to reach; set it on your kitchen counter and dip-in.

Modern Rustic Two-in-One: Round Challah Board and Apple-Honey Serving Platter
 by Treeware for Fig Tree & Vine. Photo by Johnny C.Y. Lamm for FT&V.


But with the round challah board he completely surprised me. John remembered that when making a Shabbat bread board, a salt cellar should be included. So he assumed that a honey server should accompany the round holiday board. He’s not wrong: some people like to dip their challah in honey -- however, the ingenious creation he came up with is a board that can be used for both purposes: One side of the Birdseye Maple board is plain; the other contains an inset for a matching round honey bowl. Serve sliced apples with the honey (or challah, if you like dipping your bread); then flip it over for use as a bread board. The board's generous proportions -- 14.4" diameter X 1" high -- will accommodate a festive-sized loaf and sliced apples for a crowd. Bravo John!

Abstract Star Challah Cover by Lake House Linens.
Photo by Johnny C.Y. Lam for FT&V. 

Meanwhile, David Zrihen, who makes our fine Shabbat linens, adapted his popular FT&V Belgian Linen challah covers to shapely holiday versions. We offer two round covers (with matching napkins, should you wish). The first (and admittedly my favorite) is a “petal” challah cover. This is a design entirely original to David, and thus exclusive to us. The loaf of bread rests inside linen “petals” that you fold back after the blessing [see top photo]. The second version is a modernist variation on our “Starry” challah cover for Shabbat: this time with an abstract Star of David woven in a choice of festive colors. Not your grandma's lacy challah "cozy."

Wrap Yourself in a Tallis From Jerusalem Woven in the Ancient Way

Yosef Gabso of Weaving Creations.
Photos by Eliran Dahan for FT&V.

Meanwhile if you are thinking of upgrading your tallis for the High Holy Days, Fig Tree & Vine is sparing you the trouble of flying to Israel to buy it from “Weaving Creations,” a shop located in the old Jewish Quarter. Weaving Creations, known as Maaseh Oreg in Hebrew, preserves the craft of weaving tallitot as practiced by the Jewish nation for thousands of years. The art of weaving requires hard work, patience, precision and inspiration – traits rarely found in today’s machine-made world. The craftsmen, Yosef Gabso and Ori Farhan, put their heart and soul into each of their handmade tallit creations and feel a calling to preserve the ancient art of hand-loom weaving, with an emphasis on exquisite detail work, texture and vibrant colors.  Fig Tree & Vine is pleased to offer six patterns that we selected especially for our subscribers.

 I’ll have more to say about these amazing weavers -- and other new artisans we will be introducing to FT&V -- during the coming holidays. In the meantime, enjoy your last week of summer! Our weekly Shabbat & Holiday recipes resume next week.



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