How Do You Pass Down Traditions to Your Children?
Every year, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, falls on the 1st of Tishrei on the Jewish calendar. Because the Jewish calendar is a lunar one and the Gregorian one we follow is solar, Rosh Hashanah never falls on the same day each year. Typically, the holiday arrives between early September to early October. It literally means "Head of the New Year".
Rosh Hashanah is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days. It comes before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is ten days later. It is a time for families to go to synagogue to pray and afterwards, go home to celebrate and feast on traditional foods.
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Teaching your children about this important holiday begins right at home.
Teach Your Children Through Food
Baking and cooking makes learning fun!
One of the best ways to teach your children about your traditions and your culture is through food. Even the youngest toddler can help in his or her own way.
For example, it is a tradition to eat apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah. Jews dip the apples into honey and wish each other a sweet new year. Young children can go to the store and pick the apples and the container of honey. When you get home, they can wash the apples and cut them with a plastic knife under adult supervision.
With these cut up apples, they can help you make apple cake, apple kugel, and baked apples with cinnamon and sugar. Of course, you can eat them together as a healthy snack!
Watch the Back to Basic Peeler in Action
Kids will love to use this cool kitchen tool!
Bake a Challah With Your Children
Yes, you have time-make it!
Another traditional food to make with your children is challah. Typically braided into a long loaf for Shabbat and other holidays, on Rosh Hashanah Jews bake them round. The reason for the change in shape is that a circle represents the "circle of life", the "cycle of the new year" or the Earth, as it is the birthday of the world.
Baking a challah is a very hands on activity that children will enjoy doing with you. Even if you have never baked a challah before, this can be the start of a new tradition that your children may pass down to their children.
This is an Excellent Video Tutorial on How to Make a Round Challah
The different colors of dough permit you to see each step clearly.
How About Baking Some Apple Shaped Cookies?
It's fall, after all!
Baking cookies is a favorite activity for many children. They love to mix and measure, cut and taste! They get such a sense of accomplishment when they help-don't shut them out because you are afraid of them making a mess. Not only are pre-math skills taught when kids bake, using cookie cutters is great fine motor practice, while mixing batter and rolling dough are ways to get gross motor skills in.
You can make cookies using Rosh Hashanah cookie cutters. Drop cookies can be sprinkled with blue sprinkles. Chocolate cookies can be dipped in melted white chocolate wafer and sprinkled with blue sugar. You can even make black and white cookies, but use blue and white frosting instead!
Rosh Hashanah Play Set for Children
During free play, children imitate what they see adults do. Because you do not want your children playing with your breakable Rosh Hashanah plates and candlesticks, why not give them a Rosh Hashanah set of their own to play with? You can teach your children the prayers over the candles, wine and challah while playing with them. When it is time to recite them at the family table after services, your children can use their own set to say the blessings with you. The whole family will be kvelling!
Children's Books Explain About the Holiday
There is nothing as wonderful as snuggling with your child and reading books in a comfy chair or laying in bed together under blankets. Introduce your child to the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah with the plethora of books available. From board books for babies to paperback picture books for older children, there are many high quality choices.
These books can be read every year until she can read them to you! They are the perfect addition to your child's Jewish holiday bookshelf.
Some of my favorite stories are:
In the third book of this popular series, children are introduced to all of the holiday traditions and Sammy's mom tries to keep him out of the way. Because, after all, spiders don't celebrate Jewish holidays, they spin webs!
Even Higher! A Rosh Hashanah Story by Eric A. Kimmel
In this old tale, villagers are curious as to what happens to their rabbi at the start of the new year. Many think that he goes to heaven. But does he? A curious villager, who does not believe in miracles, decides to follow him one day. What he sees changes his mind forever.
A Rosh Hashanah Walk by Carol Levin
This book has children going on a tashlich walk through the streets of New York. It does a wonderful job of sharing with children this little known tradition. What takes my breath away every time I read it is the illustration of the Twin Towers. It is a reminder to me, a native New Yorker, of what once was.
A parent is a child's first teacher. You do not need flash cards and computer programs to share the love and joy of your traditions with your child. These simple activities will build a firm foundation for your children and a lifetime of memories.