I feel lucky to live close to a synagogue, because I like the “special” on Rosh Hashanah. I like to hear the blasts of the Shofar. I like to see the Torah scrolls dressed in white.
But I know that not everyone has this privilege.
Regardless of whether you “Temple” or not, I believe that there are many, many ways to celebrate the Jewish New Year with joy.
Food for the new year
If you assume that three core concepts for Rosh Hashanah with young children are “round,” “sweet,” and “new,” come up with menus that emphasize those ideas. Think cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, little round cheeses . . . In fact, I won’t list more here. Instead, ask the kids to come up with round foods and you’ll get a long list.
Check out these ideas for embracing Rosh Hashanah at your local farmers’ markets by searching for new fruits and finding the perfect round sweet treat. In our neck of the woods, that would be apple cider doughnuts – yum!
And don’t forget to pick up some local honey for dipping challah and apples, and reciting the blessing for a sweet year.
Learn why the pomegranate is a symbol of Rosh Hashanah – and learn an easier way to cut into it. Then say the blessing:
May it be Your will, Oh Lord our God, that our good deeds will increase like the seeds of a pomegranate.
If you missed it, check out our new article on ReformJudaism.org, “What Makes a Dessert Jewish?”
Music, music, music
We love music here. We love to sing. (I sing poorly, btw.) We love to parade around the house with instruments; we love to play the piano, trumpet, guitar, tambourine . . .
If your family enjoys that also, here are wonderful Rosh Hashanah songs/videos to feel the spirit.
My fave is still Dip Your Apple by The Fountainheads. Even if you watch it 20 times, you will discover new symbolism. And our little ones love it as much as we do.
I also feel a strong connection to Ba’Shanah Haba’ah. Look at the lyrics of Ba-shanah Ha-ba’ah in Hebrew, transliteration and English. It starts “Next year, we will sit on the porch and count migrating birds, children on vacation will play . . . You will see how good it will be next year . . .” Part of the resonance for me is that the last time I saw my grandmother, z”l, she was sitting in the sunshine on the porch of her Ramat Gan apartment. “Al ha mirpeset.” Ahh. But I digress.
Bottom line: buy a few MP3s of Jewish/Israeli music and play them, as you cook, as you clean. They will enter your children’s souls.
Here’s one more for you: Tapuach Chinani (YouTube version with translation) – about an apple; just right for Rosh Hashanah.
I’m a little biased here, but I truly love playing Rosh Hashanah Bingo with the fam.
First, I passionately believe in playing games as a memory creator, a positive force, and an educational moment – especially when no individual around the table is bound to win. (Don’t ask about the time my husband decided to show our 6-year-old how to really play Monopoly!)
Second, Rosh Hashanah Bingo is great for pre-readers and non-English speakers.
It is also good for many children on the autism spectrum, according to a Mom/author who is expert in the area.
And everyone learns about the symbols of the holiday - what they are and what they mean.