For most folks, these first few weeks in September are big ones because it’s the beginning of a new school year for their kids. For us Jews, they’re big because we celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, and Yom Kippur, the day of atonement—the biggest holidays of the Jewish year. (In fact, they’re so important that we call them the High Holidays.) The Jewish calendar runs according to the moon, which means that every year Jewish holidays fall on different days of the secular calendar. This year, Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on Wednesday, September 20th, and ends at sundown on Friday, September 22nd. Yom Kippur begins Friday evening, September 29th, and ends at sundown on Saturday, September 30th.
The big holiday, Yom Kippur, is the day of atonement, or as I explain it to my 4-year-old, the day of saying “I’m sorry.” We ask for forgiveness for all of the things we’ve done wrong over the past year, reflect on our behavior, and promise to strive to be better people in the next year. It’s traditionally a fast day for adults, so if it seems like everyone’s super cranky this Saturday, well, there’s a reason for that. (For more on what Yom Kippur’s all about, click here.
But celebrating the high holidays, especially with kids, doesn’t need to always focus on introspection and self-reflection. If you’re looking for a way to make this time of year meaningful, here’s a few helpful links.
I’m a bit partial to this book roundup of some favorites to get your kids in the holiday mood. (Why? Because I wrote it!)
Check out these crafts over at ChallahCrumbs.com. They’re themed around the traditional Jewish new year symbols of apples and honey (for a sweet year), and are even sorted by age.
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are a perfect time to talk to your kids about how to say “I’m sorry” and really mean it. For more resources on that, check out PJ Library’s thoughts here.
And if you’re still scrambling to figure out where to go to services—or where to take your little ones to services— there’s a great calendar at Kveller.com that can help you out.
To me, celebrating the high holidays year can be anything from adding some apples and honey to your meals to spending the day in synagogue. I hope you find a way to make this time of year special—l’shana tova, a happy new year!
Amy Deutsch is a Jewish educator and a mom. Over the past 15 years Amy has developed experience in teaching, family education, camp, and curriculum writing. She runs children’s programs at Park Slope Jewish Center and writes for Kveller.com. She lives in Park Slope with her family.