Is Rosh Hashanah a happy day or a solemn one? On the one hand, it is a Yom Tov (a good day), whose holiness we mark by making Kiddush, and whose hope we symbolize by dipping apples in honey.  

And yet, tradition tells us that it is the Day of Judgment. We gather in synagogues and pray as a community. We listen to the Shofar whose blasts remind us of the Binding of Isaac. Do we think of Rosh Hashanah as the start of The High Holidays or The High Holy Days? And if this can be confusing for us adults, imagine how it must feel to our children. 

Thinking back to my childhood in Boston, I have happy memories of Rosh Hashanah. Yes, shul was longer than usual. But we got to hear the Shofar being blown, and found it hilarious when the Shofar sound didn’t come out right. We’d try to hold our breath during the final Tekiah Gedolah to see if we could last longer than the Shofar.  

At home we would enjoy festive meals. And every year we looked forward to the social scene of the year: Tashlich. The whole community would gather at Bullough’s Pond, throw our sins away, and then hang out with friends at the gala kiddush hosted by two shul families who lived across the street. 

I’m grateful that I have these memories. We want our children to see Judaism as joyful and to feel connected to community. But as they get older and learn more we also want them to realize that everything in Judaism has a deeper meaning, that it’s all about connecting us to God and to our purpose in life. 

Here are a few ideas parents can try at home to connect children of different ages to Rosh Hashanah in a way that is both joyful and meaningful: 

1. Shana Tova Cards 
Children can decorate beautiful New Year’s cards and write heartfelt messages to the people in their lives (family members, friends, neighbors or teachers). 

Click here for full article.

The Associated Contributors

The Associated Contributors are writers from The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.