Activities for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

THE JEWISH YEAR: Ask the students to design a calendar for the new Jewish year, including the Hebrew months and the holidays that correspond to each month. This may be done on a large piece of paper or poster board and in a circular pie shape. For each segment, write the name of the Hebrew month, the corresponding holiday, a description of the holiday, and a picture representing the holiday. Also, mark students’ Hebrew birthdays on the year’s calendar. As an alternative, make a calendar of the cycles in Judaism. Using concentric circles, designate each circle to mark the different cycles in Judaism, beginning with daily services to the 7 year cycles culminating in the jubilee. Be creative!

SELF EVALUATION: On Rosh Hashanah, we must reflect (zikaron, remembrance) upon the past year, and evaluate (din, judgment) our actions to see how we measure up.

Concrete Examples: Bring measuring tools to class (scale, ruler, plumb line, level, etc.). Discuss the purpose of such tools: They let one measure and correct, if necessary. On Rosh Hashanah, we stop and measure ourselves. What “tool” do we use? How do we know what kind of “corrections” or “adjustments” we need?

Measure Up: In writing, students complete the following sentences:
1. Of all things I did last week, the one thing that made me feel best about myself was… (describe)
2. I think I measure up to what my friends want me to do when I… (give an example)
3. I think I measure up to what my teachers want me to do when I…
4. I think I measure up to what my parents want me to do when I…
5. I think about questions like these (e.g. how do I measure up…?) when I…
6. When I don’t measure up to what I think my friends expect of me, it makes me feel…
7. When I don’t measure up to what I think my parents expect of me, it makes me want to…

Continue this activity by asking students to keep a journal during the Yamim Noraim. Ask the students to reflect on the following: things they have done well, things they could have done better, and a goal for the next day.

READING AND WRITING: Read the book God’s Paintbrush by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and discuss how it relates to the themes of God and personal images of and relationships to God. Ask students to think about how this book can help people of different ages talk about their conceptions of God.

BIRTHDAY CARDS FOR THE WORLD: These can become New Year cards to send to friends and relatives. Students are asked to think about their wishes for the world and illustrate their ideas. In addition to just wishing, encourage students to think about strategies to help these “wishes” come true.

  • Wishes for the physical world
  • Wishes for all people of the world
  • Wishes for your family (a part of the world)
  • Wishes for yourself
  • Wishes for the Jewish people
  • Wishes for Israel

APPLES DIPPED IN HONEY: Have an apple and honey taste test! Bring in different types of apples and honey and see which ones are the sweetest for the upcoming new year!

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