Fall is here! The air is getting cooler, the leaves are changing color (okay, maybe not here in Columbia, but at least the fall flavors are out in full force at Starbucks).
One thing that has always signified the start of autumn for me has been the Jewish high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Ten days apart, the holidays signify a new year and new beginnings.
What is Rosh Hashanah?
Rosh Hashanah, the first of the two holidays, begins on the evening of Wednesday, September 24 and ends on the evening of Friday, September 26. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, “head of the year” or “first of the year.”
Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year, although the holiday is typically spent very differently than January 1. There is, however, some similarity between the Jewish New Year and the American one: Many Americans use the New Year as a time to make “resolutions.” Likewise, the Jewish New Year is a time to begin introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the New Year.
I look forward to Rosh Hashanah because it allows me to reflect on the past year and take inventory of how I have grown as a wife and mother. I also welcome the opportunity to make amends to people whom I feel I have wronged, or forgive those who have wronged me, during the past year. Letting go is one of the most important aspects of Rosh Hashana and something as a mom I could certainly practice more often.
Ways to Celebrate Rosh Hashanah With Your Kids
While I was raised Jewish, my husband was not. Although neither of us are devout in our respective beliefs, it is important to me to introduce our daughter to the traditions I grew up with. Growing up I spent Rosh Hashanah in temple with my family, but with my own daughter I have embraced a few non-traditional practices for the holiday. Here are a few ways to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with your own kids.
It is customary on Rosh Hashanah to dip apples and challah bread in honey which symbolizes the wish for a sweet new year. If your child is old enough, taste test a few different varieties of honey such as wildflower or blueberry.
Start a Growth Chart
Rosh Hashanah is a wonderful time to start a growth chart for your child. Mark the child’s height and date and then continue to take measurements throughout the year or annually during the holiday. Use the measurement during the Jewish New Year to talk about how he or she has grown emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.
Try a New Fruit
On the second night of Rosh Hashanah, it is common to eat a “new fruit” — a fruit that guests have not tasted for a long time. Often, a pomegranate is used as the new fruit, but if your child won’t touch a pomegranate with a ten foot pole, take a trip through your markets exotic fruit section and let them pick out their own “new fruit” to try.
Utilize Shalom Sesame
Shalom Sesame is a great resource to teach kids about the holiday. Their website offers videos, activities, games, songs and printables with fun characters your little ones will recognize (as well as some new friends!). Bonus: there is also a resource guide for parents to help you make holidays fun for kids while teaching the true meaning behind each event.
Make an Apple Necklace
String Applejack and Honeycomb cereal on a piece of string or yarn.
Emphasize the Newness of the Year
You might try doing something new right before or after the holiday. Play a new board game, visit a new park or restaurant, or encourage your child to find a new hobby.
Make a Shofar
During Rosh Hashanah a Shofar, traditionally made from a hollowed out rams horn, is blown to awaken and inspire. The Shofar is such an integral part of Rosh Hashanah that sometimes the holiday is called Yom Teruah, which translate to “day of the Shofar blast” in Hebrew. You and your child can easily make your own Shofar at home.
All you need is a large paper plate, tape, glue, construction paper, scissors markers, paint or ribbon and yarn
- Roll a large paper plate into a cone shape. Fasten it with tape.
- Glue construction paper around the cone shape, and trim the edges. Use markers or paint to decorate the horn, or glue on ribbon.
- Slip a piece of yarn through the inside of the horn, and tie the ends to make a handle.
Read Rosh Hashanah Themed Books
Every year, just before Rosh Hashanah, the rabbi of Nemirov disappears. The villagers are certain their rabbi flies up to heaven to speak with God before the fate of every soul is decided for the coming year. But a skeptical Litvak scoffs at the villagers, claiming miracles cannot happen, and secretly follows the rabbi early one morning. What he witnesses–an enormous act of human compassion–changes his heart.
This story is one in a series of Sammy Spider stories. Each book takes the reader on a journey of Sammy’s observations, this time he watches the Shapiro family’s holiday celebrations and wants to join in the fun! Sammy learns the symbols of Rosh Hashanah through bright, colorful illustrations your child is sure to love.
This sweet story is about a young boy named Izzy who finds it difficult to apologize for a certain mistake, until the Rosh Hashanah tashlich service gives him new perspective and understanding.
Celebrate at a Local Synagogue
- Rosh Hashanah luncheon on September 26 at 2 p.m. Adults $10. Children under 12 years old $5. Reservations are required.
- Erev Rosh Hashanah: Wednesday, September 24 at 8 p.m.
- 1st Day Rosh Hashanah: Thursday, September 25 at 9 a.m.
- Shabbat Shuvah Service: Friday, September 26 at 7:30 p.m.
- Rosh Hashanah luncheon immediately following services on September 26. Adults $10. Children under 5 $5. Reservations required.
- Erev Rosh Hashanah: Wednesday, September 24 at 9 a.m.
- 1st Day Rosh Hashanah: Thursday, September 25 at 9 a.m.
- 2nd Evening Rosh Hashanah: Thursday, September 25 at 8 p.m.
- 2nd Day Rosh Hashanah: Friday, September 26 at 9 a.m.
How do you celebrate Rosh Hashanah with your kids and family? We’d love to hear your ideas! Share in comments!