Rosh Hashanah deals with serious topics, like forgiveness and thinking hard about how to be a better person. It is also said to be a celebration of renewal and of the world’s birthday. In addition to the traditional family dinners and going to services, there are many ways our JCC families add fun and meaningful activities into their holiday traditions. Below we share just a few.
Of course, apples and honey are the cornerstone of many families’ traditions. Rather than just picking up apples at the grocery store, take your kids to the nearby mountains to the nearest pick-your-own apple orchard and let them see where apples really come from.
Rabbi Leah Lewis suggested her family enjoys honey-tasting during the holidays. There are lots of different kinds of honey from different bees, nectar and flowers. Assemble your family for a taste test. Arrange a smorgasbord of foods to dip into the various kinds of honey—challah, apples, pretzels, bananas, etc.
Other foods were mentioned as well. Pomegranate is popular, representing wishes for a year filled with good deeds as bountiful as the seeds. Since Rosh Hashanah represents a new year and renewal, it is a good time to get experimental. Try starting off the year off with a new fruit your family has never tasted.
While, as Jews, we certainly like our food, there are other traditions as well. One of our JCC families suggested they keep a “once-a-year” journal that comes out every Rosh Hashanah. Each family member writes something memorable about the past year and shares a goal for the coming year. The journal is filled with kids’ illustrations and family photos as well. During the quiet of Yom Kippur, they thoroughly enjoy revisiting years of family stories.
Tradition suggests that 100 notes are sounded on each holy day from the shofar (ram’s horn). Make it a tradition in your family to give each member a chance to make noise and blast the shofar. In one family, the person blowing the loudest blast gets to cut into the challah first.
Try one of these activities—or anything new—and if all goes well, you could have a new family tradition on your hands. ✿
Audra Martin has worked with children in the JCC field for over 17 years. She is the Director of Children and Camp at the Merage JCC. Contact Audra at firstname.lastname@example.org.