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The Rite of Celebration: Pomegranate-Orange Salad

September 20, 2005
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I’ve watched them at the Western Wall on Shabbat (Sabbath), singing robustly and dancing in circles. Some ultrareligious groups dance in downtown Jerusalem to loud, joyful music, jumping and twirling high into the air in total abandonment. At weddings, all attendees are invited to join in wild, happy dancing between each course of the wedding feast.

The biblical fall feasts give opportunity to express every emotion deeply. On Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), creation and God as sovereign king are celebrated, as well as the passing of God’s judgment and forgiveness of sin. On Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), a solemn fast is observed, some not even using water to brush their teeth or take a bath. Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) is the most joyous feast of all, celebrating God’s dwelling with His people during both the wilderness journey after the Exodus and the future Messianic reign. On Simchat Torah (“rejoicing in the Torah”), when congregants dance with the Torah scrolls and celebrate completion of its annual reading, I’ve danced with women during public celebrations in circles or long, weaving lines, having to step out of line in exhaustion, amazed at their endurance.

Special festival foods, usually symbolic of what’s being celebrated, are enjoyed as well. A fall fruit that ripens at the end of the summer just in time for Rosh Hashanah is the pomegranate, often called the “jewel of winter.” In Israel, pomegranates are so prevalent and popular that street vendors juice them just like oranges. Today, health specialists declare that their juice may contain almost three times the total antioxidant ability of green tea or red wine.

The pomegranate is one of the seven species of the Land of Israel. It was a favorite motif in Jewish art in ancient times and was hung from the high priest’s robe (Exod. 28:33–34). Its abundant, juice-filled, tangy seeds remind us of Torah’s first commandment to be “fruitful and multiply.”At this time of rejoicing, let’s ask the Lord to produce in us abundant spiritual seed, which will revive the weary ones around us. Like working out the seed of the pomegranate, let’s take time this year to dig out the “jewels” of God’s Torah, celebrating their truth and being refreshed by their taste.

Pomegranate-Orange Salad

  • 2 pkg. (5 oz. each) baby salad greens
  • 4 oranges, peeled, cut into segments
  • 1 pomegranate, separated, about 1 cup kernels
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. vinegar, preferably raspberry
  • 2 tbsp. orange juice
  • 2 tsp. mustard, preferably Dijon
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachio nuts, chopped

In serving bowl, combine greens with 1/2 of orange segments and 1/2 cup pomegranate kernels. In another bowl, combine scallions, vinegar, orange juice, mustard, salt, and pepper. Whisk in oil until slightly thickened. Toss mixture with salad to coat. Arrange remaining orange segments over salad; sprinkle with nuts and remaining kernels. Makes 12 servings.

(Recipe from Just Fruit Recipes at www.justfruitrecipes.com)

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