How do congregations give children a meaningful High Holy Day experience while enabling their parents to celebrate the holidays?
How do they then bring families together at the appropriate time to make it a community experience?
Temple Beth El
“The philosophy of our religious school is let’s learn Jewish by doing Jewish, so we learn in an organic way about Shabbat and the holidays,” explained Rabbi Rachel Kort, director of engagement at Temple Beth El in Aliso Viejo (www.tbesoc.org). “We’re beginning the New Year with kids making community with kids and teachers and celebrating the holidays in an age-appropriate way in our Shabbat Chai program.”
Rabbi Kort continued, “On Rosh Hashanah, Thursday, September 5, at 10 a.m., we will be telling stories just for children, reading Torah, blowing the shofar and having an activity based on a Rosh Hashanah seder with the appropriate foods, themes and messages. Yom Kippur activities on Saturday, September 14, at 10 a.m., will also be appropriate for the day, guiding the children through the process of being their best selves in the coming year.”
Beth El’s religious school students will have “an experience that really celebrates the High Holy Days, rather than just learning about them,” while their parents are at services, according to Rabbi Kort. On Rosh Hashanah there will also be tot services in the afternoon and then a tashlikh service for families with a picnic and a big birthday cake to celebrate the birthday of the world.
Teens in the congregation are considered adults. Some lend a hand with the younger children while others participate in the services and receive honors.
Temple Beth El also has multi-generational services at 5 p.m. prior to both Reform and Conservative Erev Rosh Hashanah and Kol Nidre services at 7:30 p.m., on Wednesday, September 4, and Friday, September 13, respectively. The multi-generational services are appropriate for children, parents and grandparents.
Temple Bat Yahm
On Thursday, September 5, Temple Bat Yahm in Newport Beach (www.tby.org) will hold a special children’s service on from 9 to 10 a.m. for children up to fifth grade and accompanying adults. The service will be led by Rabbi Gersh Zylberman, Rabbi Rayna Gevurtz and Cantor Jonathan Grant and will feature special interactive and inclusive sections for all the children – plus Rosh Hashanah gifts for all the children as well!
Temple Bat Yahm will have a special program for third and fourth grade children during the main service on Rosh Hashanah morning, September 5. Activities will be led by professional educators and will feature a special program with Rabbi Rayna Gevurtz.
Fifth through seventh graders will be completing a special “Personal New Year Inventory” as part of a program with Temple Bat Yahm Religious School Director Barry Koff during the main service on Rosh Hashanah morning, September 5. Role playing and interactive multimedia techniques will highlight the “Inventory,” which will used as a basis for further programs and discussions in the TBY Jewish Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL) for K-8 students.
Everyone – and especially children – is welcome to join Rabbi Zylberman, Rabbi Gevurtz and Cantor Grant as Temple Bat Yahm celebrates tashlikh at North Star Beach in Newport Beach on Thursday, September 5, at 1:30 p.m. Prayerbooks and bread crumbs will be provided.
Temple Bat Yahm will hold a special Yom Kippur children’s service on Saturday, September 14, from 9 to 10 a.m. for children up to fifth grade and accompanying adults. The service will be led by Rabbi Gersh Zylberman, Rabbi Rayna Gevurtz and Cantor Jonathan Grant and will feature special interactive and inclusive sections for all the children.
The congregation will hold a special program for third and fourth grade children during the Yom Kippur main service on Saturday, September 14, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Activities will be led by professional educators and will feature a special program with Rabbi Rayna Gevurtz.
Fifth through seventh graders will hold a dramatic acting out of the Book of Jonah in a special program with Temple Bat Yahm Religious School Director Barry Koff during the main service on Yom Kippur on Saturday, September 14.
All children are welcome to join in a special shofar blowing during the Neilah and Havdalah service at Temple Bat Yahm on Saturday, September 14, beginning at 6:40 p.m.. This will be followed by a Break the Fast reception, open to everyone at the service.
Finally they’re here! After four years, the Temple Bat Yahm Etrog Tree is bearing its first fruit…just in time for Sukkot 5774. A special ceremony for K-8 students in the TBY Jewish Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL) will be led by Rabbi Gersh Zylberman, Rabbi Rayna Gevurtz, Cantor Jonathan Grant and the Tree Maven – Religious Life Committee Member Barry Josephson.
Temple Bat Yahm will host two special dinners in the Giant Sukkah, as well as a special Sukkot Shabbat Service, on Friday evening, September 20. The 5 p.m. pre-service dinner is primarily for families with younger children, and the 7:15 seating, following the 6 p.m. Shabbat service, is open to all.
Third through seventh grade students in the Social Action Class at Temple Bat Yahm will serve as guest breakfast chefs at the Friendship Circle in Laguna Beach on Sunday, September 22. This will be the first in a series of Tikkun Olam projects of the class through the year at the TBY Jewish Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL) for K-8 students.
Third through seventh grade students at Temple Bat Yahm’s Jewish Center for Art and Learning will perform the Sukkot mitzvah of “Welcoming Guests” by Skyping with students at a synagogue in Argentina on Sunday, September 22. This is part of the annual tradition at TBY of connecting with Jewish children in another part of the country or of the world.
Temple Bat Yahm will hold a Simchat Torah celebration, featuring the Dale Schatz Klezmer Band, on Wednesday, September 25. All new kindergarten students will also receive their formal consecration as part of a ceremony marking the beginning of their lifelong Jewish learning. There will be refreshments at 5:30 p.m., and the service begins at 6 p.m. All children are strongly encouraged to participate in the Hakafah as they dance around the synagogue with Torahs and Israeli flags.
Temple Beth Tikvah in Fullerton (www.templebethtikvah.com) offers children the opportunity to celebrate the High Holy Day season with age-appropriate prayers and music, according to Miriam Van Raalte, director of education/administrator. On the first day of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, there are children’s and tot services running concurrently with adult services. For the shofar service, children are invited to participate in the “shofar choir” and/or to sit in the front row to see the blowing of the shofar.
For Sukkot at Temple Beth Tikvah there is a mini sukkah in the preschool, and there are celebrations throughout the week. There is a family potluck and service featuring the children’s choir for Sukkot and Simchat Torah. On Simchat Torah the entire Torah is opened for all to see, and new students are welcomed into the religious school with the Consecration ceremony, at which they receive their own replica of the Torah and a certificate to mark the occasion.
Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot in Irvine (www.shmtemple.org) offers many different service opportunities for families and children, according to Marisa Kaiser, director of education. The family service is an interactive service for children (tots through 8th grade) and their parents. The Rosh Hashannah family service will be on Thursday, September 5, at 8:30 a.m., and the Yom Kippur family service on Saturday, September 14, at 8:30 a.m.
“We also offer children’s workshops at our 11 a.m. service on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for children in grades K-3 as well as babysitting for children ages 2-4 during this time,” Kaiser added. “All families are invited to join us for tashlikh on Thursday, September 5, at 4 p.m. at Corona del Mar Beach.”
“Congregation B’nai Israel in Tustin (www.cbi18.org) has a long tradition of engaging our youth during the High Holy days,” commented Cantor Marcia Tilchin. “At CBI, we want to provide both parents and young people with a rich and meaningful experience, so we’ve put together a range of opportunities designed to enable families to pray together, for children of all ages to enjoy something special just for them, and for young adults to learn and grow spiritually.”
Child care takes place during all of the congregation’s services. Participatory, musical prayer services include a family service with Cantor Tilchin, junior congregations designed for both younger and older school-age children and Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur experiences for teens and young adults. Havdalah is led by the youth with a final shofar blast in the sanctuary.
University Synagogue (www.universitysynagogue.org) children will be active participants in an engaging program of age specific educational, spiritual and cultural activities, according to Sue Penn, education director. “These activities will be run by professional staff with serious consideration given to safety and positive Jewish experiences,” she said.
The activities include junior services, tikkun olam projects, social action awareness programs, discussions and debates, holiday specific crafts and cooking projects and food and shofar workshops. They will take place on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur morning (September 5 and September 14, respectively) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and are free to congregation members.
“The philosophy of one institution providing for the needs of different developmental levels is reflected in our High Holy Day programming,” concluded Temple Beth El’s Rabbi Kort. “It’s what Rabbi (Peter) Levi (senior rabbi at Temple Beth El) calls multiple on ramps to connecting to God.”