Written by: Dinah Berch, guest blogger, updated 8/31/22
The kids are back to school with all the fanfare of back-to-school shopping, their first haircuts since Covid-19 started, and obligatory first day photos. This week’s four-day weekend means finding ways to involve the kids in my hectic High Holiday preparations.
For me, the holiday starts with the sounds and the tastes. “Bashana haba’a” gets stuck in my head, or the beautiful tones of Kol Nidre. My house slowly starts to smell like apple challah and honey cake and apple cider caramels. But once I’ve made sure pants and shoes fit and are clean, my thoughts turn to distilling the holidays into soundbites, clarifying our traditions for teachers and neighbors. I look for simple answers to “what is this holiday about (beyond the food)” that a four-year-old might understand; that my seven-year-old can share with her friends.
Yom Kippur is particularly hard for children to grasp. How do you explain “atonement” to a four-year-old? This year, I’m hoping to follow PJ Library’s suggestions for 4 easy steps: Give Something Up, Say Sorry, Make Plans, Do some good.
Here’s my cheat-sheet, part 2: Yom Kippur. I hope this helps other Jewish Seacoast families! I’d love to hear your best tricks and tips for enjoying this holiday season with children! If you’re willing, send to me at email@example.com or share to our community Facebook group, Temple Israel Chaverim! Shana Tova!
Services for Kids
Temple Israel’s Family Service will be held on the Yom Kippur morning, details TBD. Parents can stay with their children or drop them off. Children are also welcomed to join their parents in the adult service at any time. There is no family or child programing during Kol Nidre or Neilah.
See the temple website for more information or for the complete schedule.
For Yom Kippur, my two favorite children’s books are Sammy Spider’s Yom Kippur by Sylvia A. Rouss and The Hardest Word, a Yom Kippur Story by Jacqueline Jools. For more book suggestions check out PJ Library’s recommendations.
I mentioned Shaboom, a YouTube channel with cartoons for families raising Jewish kids, for Rosh Hashanah. Shaboom also has an episode called “Really, Really Sorry” (9 minutes long) available on PJ Library’s website. For parents, Shaboom also offers “Teaching your kids about saying I’m sorry: Jewish Preschool Wisdom“ (under 3 minutes).
My family loves doing apple stamping like this blog shows from Gateways (connected to JewishBoston).
In between holidays or while watching Zoom events we occasionally print out Jewish-themed coloring pages to keep young children quiet and occupied. These coloring pages from JewishSeacoast.com (from the UNH & Seacoast Chabad in Durham) or this coloring book from HighHolidaysAtHome.com (by Haggadot.com) are great. (Parents: Check out the rest of HighHolidaysAtHome.com – while you’re at it. The site has great information and resources! Delicious looking recipes too.) JewishSeacoast.com also offers High Holiday ecards to send to loved ones.
Pro Tip – cut out the painted apples and hang around your house or string for the sukkah!
ShirLala’s Blog Sameach suggests a Shofar Dance to help kids learn about the Shofar while getting their wiggles out. This sounds like so much fun to me.
Do the Shofar Dance!
Tekiah – one medium length blast
Shevarim- three short blasts
Teruah- nine very short staccato blasts
Tekiah G’dolah – one single blast that is held for long as you can possibly hold it!
For each shofar sound, make up a dance movement. The leader (children can take turns being the leader and practice pronouncing the different shofar calls) calls out the name and the group dances the associated movements. For example, for Tekiah – how about one high jump, for Shevarim – turn around in a circle 3 times, and for Teruah – do the twist until the end of the Shevarim sounds. The leader can either call out the names (“Tekiah!”) or make the sounds of the blasts.
Need a gluten free honey cake? This one is delicious – and can be made dairy and egg free too!
Did you know you can turn to the Temple’s website for some great recipes? Check out www.templeisraelnh.org/recipes/. Got a recipe to share? Send it to me to add to our website and/or share it on our Facebook group, Temple Israel Chaverim!
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Shana tova and g‘mar chatima tova. May you have a good year and be sealed in the Book of Life. Here’s to 5783!
Dinah Berch is Temple Israel’s volunteer ShulCloud administrator and webmaster. She lives in Dover with her husband Joshua, their two kids, and Dzaya the cat. She works as the Program Coordinator for the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire and PJ Library – New Hampshire.
Read Part 1: Celebrating High Holidays with Kids: Rosh Hashanah