Words hold meaning in the world – this is the idea behind the “symbols”: foods served at the Rosh Hashanah seder because their taste, shape or name symbolizes the blessings we hope will come to fruition in the new year, for both ourselves and our family.
The custom of Rosh Hashanah Symbols (without their respective blessings) is mentioned in the Talmud, and it is customary to identify the foods mentioned by name as dates, pumpkin or zucchini (Kara), beans, fenugreek or fava beans (Rubia), beets (Silki) and leeks (Kreti). These were joined over the years by dozens of different signs, each denomination ascribing meaning according to their own custom. Eastern Europeans eat carrots, so that God will “pass favorable judgments on us”, Yemeni Jews eat those same carrots so that “our enemies and haters will be condemned”, while Ukrainian Jews usually give their children chicken livers, whose Yiddish name (Liberleach) recalls the expression “Live honestly”. The signs are served at the holiday table in a variety of different representations from fritters to jam.