It’s a Friday of year 5784. While the sun sets when the late summer marks it, the sky, already slightly orange, prepares to welcome the night and thus emerge the first star. Everything appears to remain as if a single day had passed since yesterday, a Thursday in 2023. Although, paradoxically, that is the case. The key: reading it from a Jewish perspective, whose community welcomes Rosh Hashanah or head of the year in Spanish. A first day of the month Tishri –September 15– which differs from the date marked last year due to the lunar calendar, whose variation provides a unique and unmemorable feature to each celebration.
Precisely, the appearance of the pristine star marks the beginning of the festivity that opens with a very intimate dinner. In it, family and friends attend to culinary matters, in addition to beginning a deep introspective period culminated by Yom Kippur – the tenth day of Tishri o September 25th-. When the almanac marks it, as the president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain points out, Isaac Benzaquen, “it will be the most sacred day. It will be the day of forgiveness.” Likewise, on this date they will ask God to inscribe them in the Book of life.
Yesterday, so present in the Jewish community, is also reflected in the Madrid house of Emilio Abraham, where past traditions remain. Despite declaring himself a “non-believer”, the host follows, to the letter, the ritual that characterizes the dinner. In this sense, he points out that his position on religion “does not change the issue” to celebrate the holiday, and that is why he goes so far as to bless the bread in Hebrew or put on the kippah during the process.
The banquet is arranged symbolically, a very important word in this culture. The table is filled with typical dishes and thus the two main Jewish worlds are emulsified: the Ashkenazi and Sephardic. The first is characterized by a sober cuisine, since its origin from Eastern Europe prioritizes the consumption of fish or tubers without additives. For its part, the Sephardic oozes sweetness due to the adoption of Maghrebi and Turkish flavors. Pomegranates, apples or dates make sweetness the main characteristic of said cuisine.
Simultaneously in Torremolinos, Isaac rejoices with the arrival of the new year. He focuses his speech on the religious aspect. And as an official representative of the 50,000 Jews in Spain indicates that the celebration “reminds us of the creation of the world and that today we are a people with practically the same traditions.” To which he adds: “It makes you feel very proud of who you are.” An honor that increases when describing the freedom of worship that they have in the country. “We are not restricted by anything or anyone.. There is total respect for the Jewish people on the part of the society in which we live.” In addition, it denotes that, “happily,” the era in which they were restricted “has already passed.” An allusion without a specific recipient, since it admits ” not having lived no episode of antisemitism“; rather it is a reference to the history of its people.