Know what Rosh Hashanah is and why we celebrate it.
Know the objects associated with Rosh Hashanah
Learn the calls of the Shofar
By the end of the lesson, the children will have understood the meaning of Rosh Hashanah
- Brainstorm about Rosh Hashanah – What do children already know? Prompt children by asking questions such as: What do we eat on Rosh Hashanah? What symbols are important during Rosh Hashanah? What is / does Rosh Hashanah mean?
Main Teaching – Younger Children
- The Meaning of Rosh Hashanah – Teach the children that Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, explaining that ‘Rosh’ means head and ‘Shanah’ means year. Ask the children to put their hands on their head and say ‘Rosh’ this way they will remember that Rosh means Head. Explain that Rosh Hashanah is a happy festival, where we spend time with our family and go to the synagogue to pray.
Explain to the children that Rosh Hashanah is a high holy day as it leads us into the year and we want it to be a good year. Teach the greeting ‘Shanah Tovah’.
Mention that on Rosh Hashanah we eat apple & honey and honey cake as they are sweet foods and we want to have a sweet new year. Why would we want to have a sweet new year?
- Read Rosh Hashanah Story – Explain how Rosh Hashanah is a time to find yourselves and a time to see what you want to do in the future and what you have done in the past. What do you want to do in the future? What important things have you done this year? What do you want to achieve by this time next year?
- Alternative story: The Children and the Stones: During the story ask them what the different ‘sins’ each child could have done and conclude with what child they think they would be.
- The Shofar – Show children a shofar. What is this and what is it used for? Explain that it was used as a warning to Jews all over the land that Rosh Hashanah was about to begin. Inform children that there are three different notes that can be played on the shofar. Demonstrate by playing each one on the Shofar.
Main Teaching – Older Children
- The Meaning of Rosh Hashanah – Teach class a deeper understanding of Rosh Hashanah, such as the different names (Yom Teruah – Day of blowing the Shofar, Yom Hazikaron – Day of Remembrance and Yom Hadin – Day of Judgement). Why does Rosh Hashanah have these names? Why is Rosh Hashanah also a serious festival as well as a happy one? (During Rosh Hashanah we begin to think about what we have done during the past year and what we can do better during the next year) What have you done this year that you are proud of? What have you done this year that you could improve next year?
- What objects do you associate with Rosh Hashanah? (Typical answers include apple and honey, Shofar, honey cake and round challah). Why are these objects important at Rosh Hashanah? Tell class about the Fish Head (representing head of the year) being associated as well as a pomegranate (613 seeds representing the 613 commandments).
- The Shofar – Show children the Shofar. What is this and what is it used for? Explain that it was used as a warning to Jews all over the land that Rosh Hashanah was about to begin. Inform children that there are 3 different notes that can be played on the shofar. Demonstrate by playing each one on the Shofar. Ask them if they can name any of the notes then go through the notes with the class drawing each sound as a line on the board and name them. Ask class to repeat names after you. (Tekiya – one long line, Shevarim – three medium lines, teruah – nine short lines and Tekiya Gedola – one long and think line) Repeat names so that children can recognise them. Rehearse the singing and chanting of the names.
- Option 1: Decorate a Shofar – Give children a Shofar Template or ask children to draw their own and decorate it. Children to write Shanah Tovah next to their shofar.
- Option 2: Make a New Year Card – Children to make a New Year card with the word Shanah Tovah on the front of the card. Children to add one or a selection of Rosh Hashanah objects on the card and take it home for their parents, or make a large one for the community which can be read out loud on Rosh Hashana during the service or kiddush.
- Option 3: Rosh Hashanah Poem – Ask class to write down what they think of Rosh Hashanah in a poem style with specific detail on what objects we use throughout the day as well as why we celebrate. Brainstorm a class idea on the board first – think of a fun rhyming poem.
- Option 4: Write a letter to yourself – what they would like to change about themselves (use answers from story) and collect answers in individual envelopes. Later in the year post/give back answers and discuss their reactions.
- Option 5: Decorate/fill in the Stone images with the ‘sins/wrongdoings’ of the different children and their own wrongdoings as well.
- Sing a Rosh Hashanah Song – Children to sing the Rosh Hashanah song to the tune of my darling Clementine
- Shofar Blowing Competition – Children to rehearse blowing the shofar, seeing who can sound the longest note and play each note most accurately.