6 Rosh Hashanah Activities for Families
Rosh Hashanah activities are a wonderful way to celebrate the Jewish New Year. Every year on the first day of Tishri, Jews across the world celebrate with feasts, prayer, and fun. It's like a big birthday party for the earth!
There are many traditional ways to celebrate, but you can create your own family traditions as well with Rosh Hashanah activities that are fun for kids of all ages, and adults, too!
1. Go Apple Picking
The Rosh Hashanah holiday falls some time between early September and late October, depending on the way the two calendars align. It's also the start of the new school year, the beginning of fall, and it's also apple picking season. Apples are the main symbol of the holiday, as they represent new beginnings and our hopes for a sweet new year. Visit PickYourOwn.org to find a place to pick apples near you.
2. Bake Sweet Treats
Want to create sweet memories and traditions that last a lifetime? Pair special foods with traditions. On Rosh Hashanah, we dip apples in honey, but we also bake sweet treats like homemade apple sauce, honey cake, candied carrots, and Tzimmes, a traditional sweet dish baked with sweet potatoes, carrots, honey, brown sugar, and orange juice. Baking together is a fun activity at any age. As you perfect your recipes as a family, you may be tempted make small changes along the way to accomodate your personal preferences. Write down your changes and save them for the following year -- you've just created a new family recipe that's all your own!
3. Set a Special Holiday Table
Some families have special dishes for the holidays, but you don't need to break out the fine china for this family celebration. Make a homemade kiddush cup, flameless candle holders, a challah cover, beaded napkin rings, or a honey bowl carved into an apple to set the picture-perfect family holiday table. You can use the same decorations (minus the apple honey bowl!) for your Yom Kippur, Simchat Torah, and Sukkot meals in the weeks to come.
4. Blow the Shofar
The shofar, made from a ram's horn, is a call to begin the holiday celebration and prayers. In olden days, it was used as a battle cry, a way to announce the arrival of royalty, a call to celebration, a signal announcing the full moon, and a call to worship. There are many sights and flavors that remind us of the holiday. The call of the shofar is the sound that we pair with our celebration. The shofar is an impressive looking and sounding horn, but it is surprisingly inexpensive to own one and easy to buy online or in a local judaica store. If your ears and temperament can stand it, you can pick up toy shofars as well!
5. Cast Your Aplogies and Resolutions Onto the Water
Tashlich is a ceremony where families and communities walk to a body of water and throw breadcrumbs to symbolize casting off their sins. It's easy for even the youngest kids to grasp the symbolism of throwing away old grievances or things you may have done to wrong someone else. Some families throw a small piece of bread for each thing they are asking forgiveness for. Others use their bread for making resolutions. If you live near a pond, ocean, or stream, Tashlich is a nice way to get some fresh air after morning services and bring the meaning of the holiday closer to home.
6. Heal the World with Tikkun Olam
Tikkun Olam is the act of repairing the world, one good deed at a time. At Rosh Hashanah, it is tradition to focus on spreading kindness through your actions, and resolve to continue your practice throughout the world. You can volunteer as a family to help stock shelves at your local food bank, collect canned goods or old clothes to donate, or have a treasure hunt around your house to find loose change to place in a tzedakah box to give to charity. The week before the holiday, make holiday cards to send to family members, elderly neighbors, or a local retirement home. Spend the time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur visiting and catching up with relatives and friends who may be lonely.
Set a good example for your children at the holidays and any time, and you will be creating traditions and memories that will last a lifetime.