Learning about Rosh Hashanah - Jewish High Holidays for Kids

As a former teacher I always thought the new year should start in September with school. Next week it will be Rosh Hashanah or the Jewish New Year. Then ten day after it is Yom Kippur. Many of the local schools give the teachers and students the Jewish high holidays off. Hazel's does not since it is a private Christian school. However I like to teach Hazel about other cultures which includes other religions. This post is part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs Jewish High Holidays for Kids Blog Series. To learn about the Jewish high holidays we did what we do to learn about any new culture, we went to the library. The first find was this DVD on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It was a great introduction for Hazel to the holidays.

We also found many books on Rosh Hashanah and some on Jewish holidays. These are the ones we decided to focus on. (For a round-up of books about Rosh Hashanah, check out All Done Monkey's post in this series.)

 As one read the books about Rosh Hashanah a theme becomes clear. The most obvious thing is apples and honey. Apparently it is common to eat apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah to have a sweet new year. The other common theme is going to temple and hearing the shofar, a hollowed out ram's horn, played.
Shofar (Source)
 The picture books go through family celebrations and traditions. In one the mother and daughter always pick apples and make apple sauce until the one year when the mother needs to be away and the girls' classmates, neighbors, etc. give her the ingredients and she and her father make the apple sauce. Others talk about the traditions of the day with temple services, the shofar and the apples and honey. Then another is about a class at a Jewish school going to a bee farm to learn about honey and from where it comes. Then there is one that is about a little white ram that God made on the sixth day. God told the ram he had a special job and needed to wait in the Garden of Eden until it was time. Well the ram's job was to be the sacrifice instead of Isaac when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. It is a cute story that brings a bit more into the shofar and the story of Abraham. Apples and Honey by Joan Holub provides a simple craft that we made. 

 The craft is making an apple plate for the apples and honey. To make it take a red paper plate and glue on a brown paper stem and green paper leaves. Then put a cup in the middle for the honey. We served our apples and honey on the plate.

 Several of the books talked about making cards for the new year. After searching for an apple stamp the correct size or apple stickers and coming home with apple sticky notes, we decided to make apple print cards instead. 

We have a couple of apple trees in our back yard, but we do not pick the apples. The branches are cut very high, so we cannot reach them. They fall and the animals eat them. We found two that were in pretty good shape and used them to make the apple prints. I cut one finding the star inside and the other the regular way. Then I gave Hazel lots of fall colors. She also used leaves and her fingers to paint. Then we put them in the sun to dry.

There are some other traditions for Rosh Hashanah. Apples and Honey by Jonny Zucker and Jan Barger Cohen shares that it is custom to walk to a body of water on the first afternoon and throw crumbs into the water with a special prayer. This ceremony is to represent casting off the sins of the past year. On the second evening pomegranate seeds are often eaten. The seeds represent the good deeds people hope to carry out in the new year. Apples and Pomegranates by Rachel Musleah suggests having a family seder for Rosh Hashanah. Apparently this has been happening for a couple thousands of years. The suggestion for food include dates for a wish for peace, pomegranate for the wish of good deeds, apples in honey for the wish for sweetness, green beans for a wish for prosperity, pumpkin or gourd for a wish for happiness, beetroot leaves for a wish for freedom, leeks, scallions or chives for a wish of friendship, and lettuce for a wish for leadership. The book includes stories, recipes, prayers, and activities as well. 

I had hoped to learn more about Yom Kippur, but there is not much for kids for materials out there on the Day of Atonement. It is usually spent fasting and at temple in prayer. For this year we focused on Rosh Hashanah since the library had so many materials on it. Next year we will have to focus on Yom Kippur. For now, we wish you a happy new year!!