Using Rosh Hashanah to Get Kids to Try New Foods

As far as traditional Jewish foods go, bagels with cream cheese, fluffy round challah, and an apple dipped in honey are usually not too much of an “ask” for most children. In fact, some kids would probably live on apples and honey all year if they could. But how do you get a child excited about something like bitter herbs or a fish head or even carrots?

Girl tries new food

For many families who celebrate Rosh Hashanah, apples and honey are just two of many simanim orsymbolic foods that are eaten. Others include carrots, leeks, dates, pomegranates, and fish. While your kids might balk at filets of fish with greens and pomegranate vinaigrette or carrot tzimmes, you can channel the excitement of preparing for the new year into enthusiasm for trying new foods. Here are some tips for how to use these Rosh Hashanah traditions to get kids to try new foods in the new year.

Watch this video featuring Mayim Bialik and The Maccabeats to learn more about symbolic foods that Jewish people enjoy on Rosh Hashanah.


Infants and young toddlers can be more accommodating than their older siblinngs. Often, they’ll simply eat what’s in front of them. This is a great time to explore new fruits, which is a wonderful tradition for the start of the year. If your child has favorites, you can try mixing and matching things that similar. For example, if peaches are already a success, try nectarines. If apples are a big hit, try pears. You can also try blending a new food--like spinach--in with your child’s apple sauce.

Toddler eats veggies

Toddlers will begin to understand options, and the power of choice is a strong motivator for little people just starting to try to exert control over their environment. Ask your child, “Should we have carrots or squash tonight?” “What seasoning should we add to the fish?” “Do you want to try this or this?”

You can also make exploring new tastes and textures fun with taste tests and mystery foods.

Do you have a toddler-tip? Share it with other PJ Library parents on Instagram.


Since this is likely to be the pickiest age group, it’s helpful to be able to give kids back some of the responsibility at meal time, especially during the holidays. Kindergarteners and elementary aged kids love playing host and welcoming guests any time ofthe year, but especially during a big holiday like Rosh Hashanah. Let them help pick and choose your holiday menu or help with baking treats, braiding challah, or mashing chickpeas in hummus.

When children can take ownership of what they’re eating, they’re more likely to enjoy eating it. During the rest of the year, this might mean helping to plant and tend to vegetables in the garden or being your sous chef in the kitchen.

Even though food variety is a struggle for this age range, you can help keep the pressure low by allowing repeats and favorites. If she wants peanut butter and jelly for a few meals in a row, there’s nothing wrong with that, and she’ll be more likely to instigate the change of scenery herself instead of having it forced on her. For the High Holidays you can also build on this favorite by trying peanut butter with pomegranate or apple butter and honey.

It’s also helpful to build on current likes. For example, ifshe enjoys carrots and honey separately (or one but not the other), branch out with honey glazed carrots.


For tweens, the High Holidays feel weightier as they can understand the concept of teshuva, and participate in limited ways on Yom Kippur. Encourage tweens to take a leadership role in meal prep. Tweens can take the responsibility of the younger set a step further by doing the cooking on their own with a little supervision and guidance from an adult. Easy recipes for tweens to tackle include brisket, honey glazed chicken, or simple and delicious roasted veggie wraps – all appropriate for the High Holidays. And of course, tweens always have dessert covered.

Subscribers from PJ Our Way Orlando make some delicious candy-dipped apple pops for Rosh Hashanah

You can also, as you look forward to the new year with your family, make resolutions together to try new foods and set good examples for others. Older siblings can model these resolutions for their younger siblings.


Start cooking together and shopping together (and gardening together if it’s possible for your family) at an early age. The more kids are involved in food preparation, the more they’ll take ownership of the process and want to try the dishes they’ve prepared.

Need some ideas for new foods to try this Rosh Hashanah? Pick one of these 21 Kid-Friendly Recipes for the High Holidays to test out with your family.


21 Easy, Kid-Friendly Rosh Hashanah Recipes
7 New Foods to Try For the New Year
How to Get Your Picky Eater to Try New Foods via Babble
5 Science-Backed Ways to Get Your Picky Eater to Try New Foods via Today’s Parent

Shanah Tova!

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