The Jewish High Holidays (or High Holy Days) are just around the corner! I thought I’d discuss a few traditions, and the perfect way to celebrate with children.
What are the Jewish High Holidays?
The Jewish High Holidays are a grouping of holidays, close together on the calendar, that are considered to be the holiest of the year, with Yom Kippur being the most holy of them all. They are both a time of atonement for sins, and a time to celebrate that we are forgiven. Contrary to popular belief, they are not a SAD time, rather a SERIOUS but HAPPY time. This makes the idea of celebrating with kids a LOT less complicated.
The High holidays include:
- Rosh Hashanah – where we celebrate the Jewish new year (based on the Jewish interpretation of the lunar calendar). It’s a fresh start, a time to start anew, so we once again accept our G-d as our King.
- Yom Kippur – This is a day of fasting (for adults only), and other restrictions, so that we can focus purely on our spiritual side.
- The intermittent days – The thirty days preceding Rosh Hashanah, and the days following, until Yom Kippur. These are also considered to be part of the period of repentance and prayer.
The holiday of Sukkot comes just five days after Yom Kippur, and is a week-long celebration. We build outdoor rooms to eat and sleep in, to remember our wandering in the desert for forty years, and how we were delivered safely.
The tradition is to decorate the Sukkah, and to make it really pretty. The children are a huge part of this, and create crafts – in school, and at home, to beautify the Sukkah.
While this is not an actual part of the High Holidays, many lump it together – simply because the preparations happen at the same time. It is also said that the “final chance” at repentance, and prayer for a great year, lasts through this holiday.
Apples and the Jewish High Holidays:
So, why apples?
Apples seem to be the most kid-friendly way to celebrate such a challenging time with children.
On Rosh Hashanah, the tradition is to eat foods that symbolize the blessings we pray for for the coming year. Some of these foods include:
- The head of a fish: so that we should be at the head, and not at the tail.
- Pomegranate seeds: so that our merits and good deeds should be plentiful like the seeds.
- Carrot: it’s a play on the Hebrew word ‘Gezer’ – that any bad decrees against us should be torn up and destroyed.
The most famous one is apple dipped in honey – simply meant to symbolize a sweet new year. It’s almost an essential in any home, and something every child looks forward to. It’s possibly the most popular Rosh Hashanah kids’ song:
(Lyrics: Dip the apple in the honey, make the Brachah (blessing) loud and clear. Le’shanah Tovah Umetukah – have a happy, sweet new year!)
Singing with children all about the sweet apples, and the sweet, sweet honey brings the concept of what they are asking for down to their level. It gives a positive light to a serious time. They make lots of apple crafts, which are then very often reused soon afterward on Sukkot.
8 fun apple crafts for the Jewish High Holidays:
To celebrate, I made a fun apple wall hanging for Rosh Hashanah. It can be transferred out of the home for Sukkot, to decorate our Sukkah.
I collected a few more apple crafts from fellow bloggers to share with you. Some of these are perfect for teaching about Rosh Hashanah, and the tradition of eating apples to symbolize a sweet new year. Others are great to carry over to Sukkot and turn into a centerpiece or a similar wall hanging.
- Apple Scented Glitter Glue and Apple Craft by Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
- Paper Cup Apple Shaker by Crafts on Sea
- Egg Carton Apple by Easy Crafts for Kids
- Baked Cotton Ball Apples by Sugar Aunts
- Pine Cone Apple Craft by Fireflies and Mud Pies
- Apple printing, with a kid friendly apple recipe by In the Madhouse
- Bubble Wrap Apple Stamps by Crafts by Amanda
Celebrating the Jewish High Holidays with young children does not need to be a challenge! Focus on the apples, and the prayers for a sweet new year, both in experiences, and in positive actions.by