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  • Hillels of Georgia

Sharing High Holiday Family Traditions on Campus

By Lily Valderrama, UGA '21

Rosh Hashanah is right around the corner, but this year might look a little different. As a college student, for the past three years, I haven’t been able to go home to celebrate the Jewish holidays with my family because of fear for missing my classes, but when the Coronavirus Pandemic began to impact our daily lives I felt drawn to bring the holidays to me. In April, I made a Passover seder for all of my roommates to participate in, which is something I normally wouldn’t have done. I’m not quite sure why I was so compelled to choose to celebrate like that– cooking food for my non-Jewish friends and teaching them what Passover was about, but it brought me a sense of normalcy, stableness, and wholeness. 

I’ve decided to do the same for the High Holy days. I’m going to make my friends my family and have a socially distanced, CDC conforming celebration of the Jewish new year and break fast on our day of forgiveness. One thing I’ve realized is people are happy to listen and learn if you make good food for them! For Passover, I gathered recipes from all the family friends who would normally be at the seder, but for the High Holy days I only summoned help from my mom. My mom is proud of the recipes she makes for Rosh Hashanah specifically, because she grew up eating them when her mom used to make them for her family. The nostalgia of family recipes make them taste like home, so this is the perfect time to use them. Now I won’t only be connecting to my heritage, but I’ll also be connecting to my mom and dad who will be eating the exact recipe just two hours away from me. 

The first recipe my mom makes every year without fail is her lemon chicken. I know everyone loves leftovers for a week after a big meal, but with this recipe don’t count on it because all your guests will be going back for seconds and thirds:

Lemon Chicken

1. Start by cutting your chicken breasts in half and pounding them until they’re thin.

2. Add ½ tsp. salt and pepper

3. Coat the chicken breast in Matzah meal (can substitute flour)

4. Transfer into a skillet on medium heat with oil to brown

5. In the skillet add:

  • ¼ cup chopped green onion

  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (minced)

6. Once those ingredients have sauteed and the chicken is tender:

  •  Stir in ¾ cup of Chicken Broth

  • ¼ cup of dry white wine

7. Add:

  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

  • 6 tablespoons of parsley

  • The peel of 1 lemon

8. And turn the skillet up to medium-high for 5-10 minutes

At every gathering we always have a side of potatoes. Everyone loves potatoes, and when you roast them with garlic and rosemary it’s sure to be a hit:

Garlic and Rosemary Potatoes

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees

2. Start by peeling and quartering your potatoes (we usually use a bag and have leftovers, but you can use however many you want)

3. Mix separately in a bowl :

  • 1 cup of parmesan cheese

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary

  • 1 tablespoon of garlic

  • 1 tablespoon of dill

  • Salt and pepper to taste

4. Cover your potatoes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add your spice mix to them

5. Oil your baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of oil and put it in the oven alone for 10 minutes to make sure the oil is nice and hot

6. Cook the potatoes in the oven for 1 hours, moving them every 15 minutes

There you have it, a main and a side course you can cook during the High Holy days. One thing I love about cooking is adapting recipes to cater them to my taste preferences. Recipes are guidelines, but cooking is meant to be creative! If you choose to cook for the holidays, have fun with it– there’s no pressure! And don’t forget your apples and honey!

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