This article was written by Marla Wolf, Religious School Director, and Jane Mayers, Early Childhood Center Acting Director, both of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, Ohio.
Rosh Hashanah is always such a fun holiday to celebrate with young children. There are so many ways to engage in and prepare for the holiday that are fun and exciting for little hands and minds. Much like the anticipation and planning of a birthday party, children and adults love to plan details for the holiday celebration and rituals. Many families discuss Rosh Hashanah as the birthday of the world! Ideas include making invitations, decorations, special sweet and traditional foods, thank you notes, and gifts for family members, picking out special party clothes and accessories, and thinking about social action and Tzedakah opportunities.
- Bake round challah breads, with or without raisins and chocolate chips
- Host a honey tasting party to sample different flavors of honey
- Make a chart of your favorite honey flavors and compare from year to year
- Visit a bumblebee farm and watch farmers rescue bees and make the honey
- Go apple picking at an orchard and talk about the different things you could make with them. Many farms offer hay rides this time of year.
- Make apple and honey stick goody bags with a card or gift tag made by your child and deliver them to your family and friends.
You can use the focus on honey to discuss the role of bees in nature and the environment. Explore related books and activities and make fun crafts together. An easy art project is making bumblebees using a cardboard toilet paper roll for the bee’s body and either painting it yellow or covering it in black or yellow construction paper. Then you can use wax paper or construction paper for the wings, draw on them, and add googly eyes.
Another fun family Rosh Hashanah outing is to visit a lake, river, or stream and do your own Tashlich ritual. Tashlich is a fun tradition in which you toss bread crumbs in a body of water to symbolically cast away sins or for kids “I’m sorries” from the past year. Kids can think about things they’d like get rid of and do differently in the new year. Throwing natural objects into the water can be fun, cathartic, challenging, and energizing for children and adults of all ages. Try bringing a shofar and blowing it while you’re at the water!
Another family activity that goes hand in hand with Rosh Hashanah is having conversations about growth and reflection. Talking about how much we have all grown, physically and in how much we understand about the world around us, is something children can relate to. Taking out measuring cups and rulers and measuring household items, dolls, toys, and each other is a really nice way to help children think about how we measure up, reflect on our right and wrong doings, say I’m sorry, give appreciation, and think about starting fresh.
The holiday also presents a great opportunity to talk about how you can help others, whether it is making a friend feel better if they are sad or getting involved in an activity in your community. For example, our temple regularly hosts fun activities for the whole family to make a difference in our community such as making food for families that do not have enough to eat, making get well cards and crafts for sick children, and visiting a senior center.
What are your favorite ways to make Rosh Hashanah fun and special for your family?