Enjoy a bowl of Belila for breakfast. I make my Belila with barley which is chewy and filling. The dates add just a touch of sweetness.
Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, one of the happiest of Jewish Holidays, begins Friday at sundown. We wish each other l’ shana tovah, a shining new year. We celebrate with sweets so that the new year will be a sweet one. And we pray to be inscribed in the book of life.
I hope we’re all inscribed in the book of life but right now, things don’t feel all that happy. There isn’t much sweetness for a country devastated by COVID, cratered economy, systemic inequity, and oh, yeah, fires out west of Biblical proportion.
Despite that, or maybe because of it, Rosh Hashana couldn’t be better timed. With all the suffering in the world today, whether caused by poor leadership or the planet saying, Enough, I say unto you we do not need to add to it.
Humans are messed up. We’ve always been. “Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made,” as Immanuel Kant wrote. Being vegan means I get to do a lot of good for my health, the health of the planet and be kind to all my animal friends. It doesn’t make me — or you —perfect.
All the more reason to embrace Rosh Hashana. The holiday offers a moment of stillness, a chance to reflect, reboot, rededicate ourselves to what we hold dear and get back in the game.
“It’s a prime opportunity to engage in some soul-searching and to look at everything we’re doing,” says Jeffrey Cohan, executive director of Jewish Veg. “It’s the most positive time to make a change in your life,” Or your diet. Or both.
“By starting the new year with a vegan meal, you’re aligning yourself with the highest ideals of the Jewish religion, starting the year in the most compassionate way possible,” Cohan says.
Imperfect as we all are, let the new year be a time for sweetness — not just sweet foods, though they’re fun, but for the sweetness that’s possible with humility and compassion, one of the core precepts of veganism. Whatever your religion, political leanings, or dietary choices are now, for the new year, make your sweet choice to embrace more plants in your diet and more tolerance and love in your heart. Wishing everyone l’ shana tovah.
This breakfast barley, perfect for Whole Grains Month, offers comfort in a bowl and a sweet start to the Jewish New Year. Dates and barley are two of Judaism’s seven sacred foods.
- ⅔ cup barley
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 6 Medjool dates pitted and coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup almonds toasted and coarsely chopped
- A shake or two of cinnamon
- Pour barley into a generous bowl, cover with water, and let it soak for a few hours or even overnight.
- Drain barley, rinse and pour into a large saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for another 20 minutes, until the barley has plumped and absorbed most of the liquid.
- Pour in the almond milk and add the chopped dates. Continue cooking, giving the occasional stir, for another 10 minutes or until the barley starts to incorporate the almond milk and dates.
- Add chopped nuts, top with a dusting of cinnamon, and enjoy.
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