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Moroccan Jewish Feast Comes to Chelsea for Rosh Hashana

By Mathew Katz | August 29, 2013 9:08am
  The feast by NYShuk aims to introduce Jewish-Morrocan food for the High Holidays.
Rosh Hashana Meal Has Middle Eastern Twist
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CHELSEA — If you're sick of knishes and kugel for your High Holiday meal, it might be time for a taste of North Africa.

A husband-and-wife team will bring their traditional Jewish-Moroccan food, including couscous and stews, to the event space Haven's Kitchen's on Wednesday for a Rosh Hashana Feast.

NYShuk, owned by Leetal and Ron Arazi, aims to introduce New Yorkers to traditional Sephardic (Jewish Spanish and Middle Eastern) food — something of a challenge, considering how many Ashkenazi, or Eastern European Jewish, staples dominate the city's menus, especially around the High Holidays.

"This whole part of the world — people in New York think they have a clue, but there aren't any really good restaurants here and people don't do the food in a very good way," said Ron Arazi, who moved from Israel to New York last year.

The kosher Rosh Hashana feast to celebrate the Jewish new year aims to change that by bringing together a combination of traditional Sephardic foods including saffron short ribs; matbucha, a cooked tomato salad; and tanzeya, a dried fruit stew.

NYShuk's hand-rolled couscous will be the focus of the event.

"It takes about six to seven hours to make with semolina," Arazi said.

NYShuk has regularly organized Friday night Shabbat dinners since February, and the company now has a line of food products to help people cook Sephardic Jewish food.

All of the dishes at the Rosh Hashana dinner will be meant to symbolize blessings and wishes for the new year. The dinner will include special prayers related to each of the foods.

"Unlike many Jewish-American traditions where you say the prayer once, the Sephardic tradition does it five or six times each — every time, it's with a different ingredient," Arazi said.

There will also be plenty of wine on hand to go with the feast. The event, which starts at 7 p.m. on Wednesday will cost $150 per guest. Reservations are available online.

"We think that celebrating the new Jewish year is going to be something fun — we used to do that with our families," Arazi said. "I think people can enjoy that — even if you’re not Jewish."