DURING THE HOLIDAYS, we often have certain memories or traditions of how we celebrated each holiday with family and friends. I remember one of the traditions that my family did happened before Rosh Hashanah. My father, would ask each child to describe something that made her happy. He would write down the special “happiness moment” and keep them in a box. Every year, he would read the memory card right before Rosh Hashanah. What a moment together to share!
Most families probably have traditions that take place throughout the year, but especially the holiday traditions seem to stick in our memories. Research shows that these traditions and moments are important in building strong family relationships between generations.
Some traditions are stories, beliefs, rituals and customs that are passed from one generation to the next. Keeping traditions for the holidays help teach children the importance of family values. Creating an environment and atmosphere in your home with routines and traditions are part of family rituals. Certain traditions give security to young people, providing a sense of continuity and routine that they can depend on year after year. Such activities help promote healthy relationships between the generations when they are enjoyed and anticipated by everyone. Children will remember the special experiences of family traditions more than toys and gifts.
To make family traditions more memorable, take the time to talk about the special things your family does and why it is important to you. Include the children in planning and carrying out the special activities. Being engaged and involved will give them a feeling of pride and belonging to actually be a part of the traditions. It also helps them to understand why your family does these special things. Our Jewish traditions are part of our cultural heritage, it gives everyone a sense of their family history.
Sometimes, as our families change or grow, our traditions change with us, and that is part of the journey. For example, you can still have the family all get together for a time of sharing, maybe talk about why is this holiday important to us, include a special meal during Rosh Hashanah—but the place or the menu might change over the years. The important thing is that you get together as a family to share memories and pass on new family traditions and values.
Traditions create a bond. Make it a point this year to include your children in family traditions that will provide them with a sense of belonging and build memories for their future. A major component of Judaism is passing traditions l’dor v’ador to keep them alive.
Dawn Kreisberg M.A- Director of Olam Jewish Montessori Early Childhood Center and educational leader in Jewish education.