Why is it Traditional to Bake a Round Challah for Rosh Hashana?
Jewish women throughout the world take pleasure in baking their own Challah for Shabbat and holidays. Others, like most of us, buy them.
Among Jews of Eastern European heritage, the practice is to braid the challah with three thick strands of dough to create the plump lovely challah that we are familiar with, whether with seeds, raisins, or plain with its shiny egg white wash. Sephardic Jews take pleasure in creating unique shapes with their challahs, taking the form of animals or plants or other decorative motifs.
But on Rosh Hashanah, the challah is round. Why?
Round, like a wedding band, is the symbol of non-ending continuation, ongoing tradition, a new year that will be as good, or better than the past one. As the roundness rises in the center, the challah takes on the shape of a crown. To many, this is the symbol of the majesty of G-d, and the enduring connection that he has with the Jewish people.
It is a reminder to us that in order to keep that non-ending connection going, we need to keep our faith with G-d, obey His laws as best we can, and to pass these traditions on to our children and grandchildren. L’dor v’dor… from generation to generation.
That’s our job as Jews… to ensure that Judaism and Om Yisroel… the people of Israel… will live!