A New York City Bakery Is Celebrating The Jewish New Year In A Truly Sweet Way

Rosh Hashonah, the Jewish New Year, is a deeply spiritual holiday on the Jewish calendar steeped in tradition, both as a people and within families. One big part of the tradition for many families is to enjoy apples and honey, as a delicious symbol of wishing each other a sweet new year.

Jeremy Jacobowitz/Brunch Boys

Honey is, of course, easy to come by at any farmer’s market or grocer’s shelf, but for a holiday that finds intrinsic significance in families being together and supporting each other, there’s a certain beauty when the honey itself is made by those people and not shipped from a factory thousands of miles away.

Breads Bakery, a legendary New York City-based bakery, has taken that concept to heart and is making their own honey for the season, and it’s for the second year in a row. “Breads Bakery has decided to focus on becoming a sustainable bakery,” said Gadi Peleg, owner of Breads Bakery. “As part of that project, Breads Bakery has become a zero waste facility and has focused on locally sourcing the highest quality ingredients whenever possible. It occurred to us that we can hyper locally produce honey,” said Peleg.

The concept started in their own backyard. “One of our neighbors at the Union Square Market is Andrew, an urban beekeeper,” said Peleg. After several conversations with Andrew, it became clear to the Breads Bakery crew that it was possible to produce honey in Manhattan, steps from their bakery in a way that is not only sustainable but actually beneficial to the urban landscape.

As the Jewish High Holidays were timed at the same part of year as the honey harvest, it was a concept that seemed meant to be. “This is something that we only do around the High Holidays which happens to be the honey harvest,” said Peleg. “After that, whatever honey is left in the hives is necessary for sustenance for the bees to survive the harsh New York winter, so we will not harvest anymore honey beyond September,” he explained.

This is something Breads Bakery started to do last year before the Jewish High Holidays and the response was so overwhelming, they decided to continue doing it this year. “It turns out that Manhattan honey is delicious,” said Peleg.

The results were better than they even expected. “The variety of trees in New York’s parks makes for a beautiful variety of honey flavors and colors. We also do not mix honey from different hives, which allows us to create different varieties of honey, each one having a vastly different flavor,” he said.

As part of becoming a sustainable bakery, Peleg and his team had to gain control over our production. “We had to really learn how to produce the right items at the right time,” said Peleg. “While that isn’t easy with fresh baked goods, we do have it under control,” he said.

The bees have it less under control and are much more affected by Mother Nature. “This is a long winded way of saying that we never know how much honey they will produce,” said Peleg. “Last year, after fulfilling our pre-ordered honey, we sold out of the honey in the store in the first hour!” he said.

“Because the demand for the pure honey is so high, we do not use it in baked goods,” said Peleg, who explained for the baked goods on their menu, they use another honey, that is also locally sourced but from a farm that has many more hives. “Breads Bakery is all about creating fresh products that have very short shelf life,” he said.

The bees, on the other hand, have achieved something pretty special. “They are the only creatures on Planet Earth that produce a product that has an infinite shelf life, as honey never goes bad!” said Peleg.

Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer with over a decade of experience covering travel and food.