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The Jewish High Holidays are a time for reflection. An honest evaluation of one’s accomplishments and shortcomings becomes a starting point.

Reflecting on the Importance of Family

Sandra Bornstein’s homemade apple filled challah.

The Jewish High Holidays are a time for reflection. Observant Jews ponder over the events of the past year and assess the quality of their day-to-day behavior. An honest evaluation of one’s accomplishments and shortcomings becomes a starting point. Acknowledging one’s positive and negative behavior becomes the first of many steps that lead to renewed personal growth.

This year, my soul searching will partially focus on what I learned from writing, editing, and marketing my soon to be published memoir, “May This Be the Best Year of Your Life“. I feel fortunate that I have had the opportunity to finally fulfill a decades old dream to write a book. While I never imagined that my writings would put a spotlight on my family, I also never thought I would live and teach in India.

The decision to relocate to India in 2010 was one of the most challenging choices I ever made. In my memoir, I stated:

I stared at the mountains outside my window, looking for solace. How could I consider leaving the awesome Colorado Rockies? We had a home in the Front Range and another one in the mountains. This was our family’s version of the American dream. All that Ira and I had planned was now called into question. Bit by bit my life was starting to unravel, and I wondered if it would ever be the same.

“My heart drew me to the core of my existence—the memorable family moments. In particular were the Jewish High Holidays in the fall and Passover in the spring. Since relocating to Colorado, our sons and their significant others had swarmed there to taste the delectable foods that were part of our family’s traditions. At great cost to a potential career path, I had invested decades of my life in nurturing and raising our four sons. I couldn’t speculate on what effect our Indian adventure would have on the underpinnings of our family.”

While living abroad, I was unable to celebrate any of the Jewish holidays with my whole family. The first holiday I celebrated by myself was Purim. The following were my reflections:

Jews often remark how comfortable they feel wherever they go because Jewish traditions are common worldwide. To a certain extent this is true…Yet in this scenario, something was amiss. At first I couldn’t put my finger on it. What was missing? Ira and my sons, of course. Jewish holidays are always meant to be celebrated in a community setting. But the core ingredient for me—my family—wasn’t present. I longed to be back in Colorado rolling hamantaschen dough in my own kitchen and then filling it with jelly or melted chocolate.”

Sandra’s homemade hamentashen.

Early on, I realized that I was not comfortable celebrating any Jewish holiday by myself or with just one family member. I looked forward to the future times when my entire family would come together in celebration.

This year, I am back in the U.S. and will be celebrating the holidays with my family. I am grateful that the past year has been filled with many joyous family occasions, including the marriage of my second son, Adam, to Rachel last September. Happy 1st anniversary.

I cherish the special times we share as a family. Three out of four of my sons do not live in Colorado.

The next few days, I will be cooking and baking my family’s favorite recipes. An apple filled egg challah tops their list. I will share an abbreviated version of Judy Zeidler’s recipe from her cookbook, “The Gourmet Jewish Cook (William Morrow and Company, Inc.,1988). I have linked to a more recent version of the book.

Ingredients for dough: 1 pkg of active dry yeast, 1/2 c sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1 c warm water, 4 to 5 c flour, 6 egg yolks, 1/4 c veg oil, 4 tbs butter or margarine, 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tsp water, and cinnamon sugar.

Ingredients for apple filling: 3 apples, peeled, cored and diced, juice of 1 lemon, 2 tbs honey, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.

Apple Filling: combine the ingredients. Cover and chill. Drain extra liquid. (If you don’t drain it, the inside will be very gooey.)

Challah:

In a bowl, blend together the yeast, sugar, salt, warm water, and 2 c flour. (I proof the yeast by letting it get puffy with the warm water and sugar) Blend in the egg yolks and oil. Add the remaining flour, 1 c at a time. Blend until it is thick enough to work by hand. Knead 5-10 minutes. Put dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise until double in size.

Punch down and divide dough into 3 parts. Roll each part into a rectangle. Brush with melted butter or margarine and spread 1/3 of the apple filling onto each rectangle. Roll each rectangle into a long rope. Seal the ends together. (This can be tricky. If not properly sealed, the braids will open when they rise or bake. Braid the three ropes. Place on an oiled cookie sheet.Let rise until double in size. (I divide the dough into 6 parts and make two smaller loafs)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of the braided loaf with egg yolk and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. (I stir in a bit of honey with the yolk and eliminate the cinnamon sugar) Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.

If you try the recipe, let me know what you think.

I wish all of my Jewish readers a Happy and Sweet New Year.

This post originally appeared on www.sandrabornstein.com.  It is reposted here by the author.

About Sandra Bornstein

Sandra Bornstein, an international educator and writer, has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad as well as college level courses at the University of Colorado and Front Range Community College. Sandra holds two master’s degrees- one in Education from the University of Colorado and another in Jewish Studies from Spertus College. She published five essay about American Jewish women in encyclopedias. The essays were later added to the Jewish Women’s Archives’ website-http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/author/bornstein-sandra. After teaching in India, Sandra wrote MAY THIS BE THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE: A MEMOIR and started a blog (www.sandrabornstein.com) that focuses on Jewish culture, international education, worldwide travel, and living abroad. http://youtu.be/m-QMib9UaT0

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