Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Children welcome Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year


At Jewish preschools, little ones are making apple crafts and paper shofars and learning about honey. • Apples, shofars and honey are symbols of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which begins at sundown Wednesday.

A time of family gatherings and special foods, Rosh Hashana ushers in the 10 days collectively known as the High Holy Days, High Holidays or the Days of Awe. The period concludes with Yom Kippur, the most sacred day on the Jewish calendar.

This time of self-examination, repentance, renewal and hope is believed to be when God judges his people and writes their fate for the new year in the Book of Life. On Yom Kippur, the book is sealed, which is serious stuff, especially for the very young.

Those who teach children aim to convey the lessons of the High Holy Days in age-appropriate ways.

"For the little people, on Rosh Hashana, I stress that everybody loves a birthday and this is the birthday of the world. So we celebrate the birthday of the world on Rosh Hashana," said Rabbi Jacob Luski of Congregation B'nai Israel.

And, said Luski, children know that a birthday means sweet things to eat, so this is a perfect way to explain the symbolic foods and greetings of the holiday.

"We wish each other a Sweet New Year and that's why we dip apples into honey," is the way he explains it to the children, Luski said.

Bonnie Halprin, director of Congregation B'nai Israel's Pauline Rivkind Preschool for children 1 to 5 years old, said the teachers also talk about the holiday's symbols.

"We actually had a beekeeper come, so they could see where honey comes from," Halprin said.

"They make applesauce. They do apple prints. They are making cards for Rosh Hashana, wishing people a sweet and healthy new year."

At Temple Beth-El's Early Childhood Center, director Randi Nash-Ortiz planned to place the littlest ones — 12 months — in baskets with apples and photograph them for Rosh Hashana cards.

In preparing the children for Rosh Hashana, Rabbi Michael Torop has been sounding the shofar, a ram's horn, another important tradition of the High Holy Days, Nash-Ortiz said.

"We had only one that covered their ears," she said, laughing.

Torop also has been singing lots of Rosh Hashana songs.

"We do a wide variety of different things,'' Nash-Ortiz said. "We talk about it being the beginning of the new year and we celebrate with apples and honey and make apple prints. The older children make paper shofars," she said.

The solemn observance of Yom Kippur begins at sundown on Sept. 13. Also referred to as the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur is a time of fasting and prayer for grownups.

To help children understand, Luski first explains that Rosh Hashana is a time when "we start thinking about the good and the not-so-good things we did last year and how we can be better. And that's how we get ready for Yom Kippur. We need to say we are sorry if we did something wrong to Mommy or Daddy, or brother or sister, or teacher or friend."

Additionally, Luski said, "We also sound the shofar for them at the Rosh Hashana party and tell them that Rosh Hashana wakes people up to do the right things in the new year."

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.

Children welcome Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year 09/03/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 1:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida education news: Free speech, Schools of Hope, student voices and more


    FREE SPEECH: The University of Florida reluctantly hosts white nationalist activist Richard Spencer for a rally officials are encouraging students to ignore. Campus president Kent Fuchs, who tried to prevent the activity from taking place, Troopers prepare for Richard Spencer's speech at the University of Florida. Gov. Rick Scott has declared a State of Emergency for Alachua County ahead of the event.

  2. How old is too old to go trick-or-treating on Halloween?

    Human Interest

    Brandi Eatman guesses the boy was at least 15 years old.

     Costume accessories at House of Make Believe at 1055 N Hercules Ave. in Clearwater. [CHERIE DIEZ | Times]
  3. Report: West Pasco channel dredges could cost up to $13.5 million

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The cost of dredging a dozen coastal canals serving seven west Pasco communities could reach nearly $13.5 million, according to a consultant's report.

    WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times
 A consultant recommends that Pasco County consider a dozen canal dredging projects in west Pasco's coastal communities at a cost that could reach nearly $13.5 million. [WILL VRAGOVIC, Times 2011]
  4. Records show Hernando Beach fire chiefs defrauded taxpayers of thousands

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The three former chiefs of the defunct Hernando Beach Volunteer Fire Department, arrested in September, are collectively accused of defrauding the taxpayers of Hernando Beach, Aripeka and Forest Glenn of tens of thousands of dollars.

    David Freda, a former Hernando Beach fire chief, has been charged with organized fraud. He recently was fired as Brooksville’s fire chief.
  5. Money dries up, bringing questions and new leadership to Tampa nonprofit


    TAMPA — A new leader has been installed at one of East Tampa's leading nonprofit agencies following reports that money is going out faster than it's coming out.

    Tampa Hillsborough Action Plan founder James Hammond, left, attended an awards ceremony in February with Jeanette Bradley, right, who recently wasd removed as chief executive of the charity Hammond founded, the Tampa Hillsborough Action Plan. The group was honored for innovation at the WEDU Be More Unstoppable awards. [AMY SCHERZER | Times]