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Rosh Hashanah (rohsh hah-shaw-nuh) is the Jewish New Year! This year it falls on September 25 to 27. Soon after follows the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur (yawm kee-poor), or the Day of Atonement.
There are many great ways to get your family involved in these Jewish holidays. Most you don’t even have to go anywhere! My two children don’t always have the attention span for long services at the synagogue, as much as I might want to go. But there are lots of ways to celebrate at home!
Rosh Hashanah Traditions
On Rosh Hashanah, our families eat round challah bread to symbolize the eternal lifecycle. We have apples dipped in honey in hopes for a sweet New Year. These days are known as the High Holidays. Rosh Hashanah is a fun holiday because it is a big celebration of the New Year!
We have gatherings during these times and have feasts to celebrate the new year.
We also have a gathering called tashlich (tash·lik). On the first afternoon of Rosh Hashanah (provided that it is not Shabbat), it is customary to go to a body of water, such as an ocean, river, pond, etc., and perform the tashlich ceremony. It involves ceremonially casting our sins into the water by throwing crumbs of bread or rocks into the water.
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Celebrating Yom Kippur
There are 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We use those days as a time of reflection and prayer.
Yom Kippur is considered the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Many spend the day in the synagogue and fast for 24 hours. Children and pregnant mothers are not required to fast but can still participate in the prayers and services throughout the day. There is a big breakfast at nightfall on Yom Kippur.
Although Yom Kippur is the most solemn day of the year. It is infused with an undercurrent of joy. It is the joy of being immersed in the spirituality of the day and expressing confidence that our repentance and sins will be forgiven, and seal our verdict for a year of life, health, and happiness.
These two holidays are very important in the Jewish religion. It is a time to celebrate the New Year but also reflect on everything we learned in the past year.
It is a great idea to get the kids involved in the celebration by having them help bake a honey cake, paint bubble wrap yellow to look like honeycomb, or read some books about the holidays. Sammy Spider’s First Rosh Hashanah is a great one.
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For even more fun ideas, and to learn more about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, here are some resources: