Resources to Supplement Your Yom Kippur Teaching

Written by Behrman House Staff, 25 of August, 2017

Yom Kippur marks a period of introspection and reflection - both personally and professionally. As we head into the season, now is a good time to review your strategies for teaching this holiday.

From our vast trove of learning materials, we rounded up some resources for you to inspire your student learning this new year.

Spoken Word Audio

During Yom Kippur, we remember our deceased loved ones during the Yizkor service, which includes the saying of Kaddish. Enjoy a fresh perspective on the Kaddish in this spoken word poem by Rabbi Zoë Klein of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles. Her piece, featured in Hebrew in Harmony, our new prayer curriculum for grades 4-6, will be released in January.

Kaddish Poem by Rabbi Zoë Klein 

The Book of Jonah

The Book of Jonah, with its message of religious universalism, comprises almost the entire afternoon reading for Yom Kippur. The Jonah story highlights how all people, Jews and non-Jews, are entitled to God's blessing and forgiveness.

For young children, grades K-1, a four-page folder in the Teach Me Torah series tells the story of Jonah using simple words and highlights a lesson we can draw from the story. A story reinforcement activity helps further student understanding, and a value for each story is explained simply and reinforced by its own activity. The Teacher's Edition gives guidance for focusing the story on the value of Caring About Others, even those who don't act as we would hope. Here is one idea from the Teacher's Edition to prepare for the lesson about Jonah and Yom Kippur:

Bring newspapers or magazine to class. Read some of the headlines with students. When they come to a headline about people who are suffering, whether from war or hunger, ask the students why it's important to read the news and learn about these stories. Ask students to consider why it's important to care about others, even if we don't know them and will never meet them. Explain to students that we learn the importance of caring about others, even those who behave or live differently from us, in the story of Jonah.

For older students learning the story of Jonah, Batsheva Frankel has developed some creative assessments. Here is a sample, from The Jewish Educator's Companion: Practical Tools & Inspirational Ideas. Click the image below to download the full PDF.



Curriculum Themes, by Grade

Teaching Jewish Holidays is a comprehensive guide that contains background, scope and sequence, vocabulary, activities, and blessings for each Jewish holiday. Here is an excerpt from a suggested grade-by-grade curriculum for Yom Kippur, which you can use as a starting point in developing a holiday curriculum for your school. 

Grade Three
Why do we fast? How do we feel physically and emotionally when we fast?

Grade Four
The concept of confession, as well as making amends. Examine the terms Yom Kippur, teshuvah, and viddui.

Grade Five
Examine the concept of repentence as "returning to the right path" after "missing the mark." Investigate interesting customs related to Yom Kippur.

Grade Six
Jonah and the concept of religious universalism. Why is Jonah read on Yom Kippur? What message does Jonah bring to the modern Jew?

Grade Seven
Discuss Torah and Haftarah readings other than Jonah. Include Leviticus 16, Deuteronomy 29:9-14 and 30:11-20. Why do different congregations read different Torah sections?

Grade Eight
A brief look at key prayers and a careful examination of Kol Nidre. Why is it included in the liturgy? What meaning does Kol Nidre have for today's Jews?