Rosh Hashanah (“Head of the Year” in Hebrew) is the Jewish New Year. It is also the start of the ten day period (the “High Holy Days”) of repentance and forgiveness-seeking that culminates with Yom Kippur.
Many aspects of Rosh Hashanah, many traditions, can be used to ground children’s games and crafts, to get kids involved in the holiday and educate them as to its meaning. Here are some examples:
* Apple and Honey Serving Dish
Rosh Hashanah is associated with “sweetness.” Sweet foods are served, and sour or bitter foods are avoided. People wish each other a “sweet” new year. Perhaps the food most commonly associated with Rosh Hashanah is apples (sweet, not tart) dipped in honey.
* Two transparent plastic plates
* One plastic cup
* Super glue
* Glue stick
* Construction paper
1. Draw relevant shapes on the construction paper, such as the Star of David, the Shofar horn, the Torah, Apples, etc., and then cut them out.
2. Using the glue stick, attach various of these shapes as decorations to one of the plates and to the outside of the cup.
3. Using the marker, additionally decorate that plate and cup by writing words and phrases associated with the holiday. (For example, people commonly wish each other “shana tova” (“a good year”) or “shana tova umetukah” (“a good and sweet year”) on Rosh Hashanah.)
4. Using super glue along the rim, attach the second plate on top of the first plate (so that the decorations are covered yet visible through its clear bottom).
5. Using super glue, attach the bottom of the cup to the center of the doubled plates.
6. Let dry.
7. Fill the cup with honey, and spread apple slices around it on the doubled plates.
* Apple Candlesticks
As noted, the apple is a food associated with Rosh Hashanah. It is customary to light candles at sundown on the eve of Rosh Hashanah (sometimes then done each day of the High Holy Days as well) to mark the transition from normal time to sacred time, accompanied by prayers.
* Large apples
* Apple corer or potato peeler
* Lemon juice
1. Using the apple corer or a potato peeler, make a hole about halfway down into the middle of each apple, of the size that the candles will fit snugly.
2. Using the end of the potato peeler or a small knife, carefully carve appropriate designs into the apples, such as the Star of David.
3. Rub any exposed part of the apple from the carvings with lemon juice. Otherwise the exposure to air will turn them brown.
4. Insert a candle into each apple.
*Stuffed Round Challah from Pantyhose
In addition to serving sweet foods, it is customary to serve round foods on Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah meals often include challah, which is a form of braided bread, baked into a round shape, sometimes stuffed with raisins.
* Discarded stockings or pantyhose
* Discarded dark colored socks
* Tissue or polyfill stuffing
1. Using the scissors, cut the legs from the pantyhose, or use stockings.
2. Stuff the legs with tissue or polyfill.
3. Tie off the legs, and tie them to each other as one long chain.
4. Braid them and coil them into a circle, tucking the legs in.
5. Cut out small pieces of the dark socks and roll them into little balls.
6. Using glue, stick them into the folds and crevices of the braided stockings, to represent raisins.
*Tzedaka Charity Box
A tzedaka box is used for collections for charity. During the High Holy Days, one atones for one’s sins and recommits to replacing them with good deeds in the new year, such as using the tzedaka to help the poor.
* Gift wrapping paper
* Tape or glue
* Construction paper, colored markers, glitter, or other items for decoration
1. Using the scissors, cut a small hole or slot in the lid of the shoebox, like a piggy bank slot.
2. Put the lid on the box, and wrap the box as you would a present with the wrapping paper.
3. Feel for where the hole in the lid is, and cut the same size and shape slot in the paper there.
4. Decorate the outside of the box with drawings with the marker, shapes cut out of the construction paper, sparkles, glitter, or anything of your choosing.
5. Go around to people, explain the purpose of your tzedaka, and collect money.
6. When the High Holy Days are over, break open the box and donate the money you’ve collected to a good cause that helps the less fortunate.
These crafts should provide plenty of fun and education for children who want to be included in Rosh Hashanah.