Jewish Table Etiquette: Folded Napkins

Napkin Profile image by Towards Ithaca from

Many rituals and holidays in Judaism include the family gathering around the table for a meal. These get-togethers usually include fine china and proper table settings, and placing a folded napkin at each seat is one key step to setting the table. YOu have several options for incorporating the Jewish traditions into folding your napkins.

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, takes place in the fall, typically in September. One of the major traditions for this holiday involves eating apples dipped in honey, signifying a sweet new year. Use this custom when creating a decorative napkin by collecting old honey jars and thoroughly cleaning them out. Fold a paper napkin into a fan and stick it into a honey jar, placing one at each seat.


Hanukkah is a popular Jewish holiday full of games, presents and good foods. Hanukkah gelt is commonly handed out to children when playing with their dreidels, or wooden tops, and you can turn a bag of gelt into a napkin decoration. Roll up a blue cloth napkin and tie the end of a gelt bag around its center, making an impromptu napkin ring.


Purim is a day in the Jewish custom celebrating the story of Esther. Children commonly dress in costume on this day, and you can play off this trend. Fold some cloth napkins in a rectangle, making a sort of pocket at the top. Then take some paper masks, found at costume or craft shops, and slip one into the top of each napkin.


Passover, or Pesach, honors the Jews' exodus from Egypt and the giving of the 10 Commandments to the Israelites. Make napkin rings for your Passover table by using some plain rings found at any budget home goods store. Collect some small plastic items that can signify the 10 plagues from the Torah, such as a plastic grasshopper or frog, and hot glue them to the napkin rings.

Yom Ha'atzmaut

Yom Ha'atzmaut, the Israeli Independence day, is celebrated in May with parades and fairs. For your Independence Day table, tie some blue and white ribbon around folded cloth napkins. Aternatively, print out images of the Israeli flag on your computer, cut them out and slip one into the folds of each napkin at your table.