Know what Yom Kippur is and why we celebrate it
Distinguish between a normal day and the day of Yom Kippur
Understand that Yom Kippur is the Day of Judgement
By the end of the lesson, the children will have understood the meaning of Yom Kippur
- Brainstorm about Yom Kippur – recap prior knowledge about Yom Kippur. Encourage children to name any customs or traditions we have and do on Yom Kippur.
- A Yom Kippur Story – Read the story with the children and discuss its meanings. Think about why the rabbi asked the child to take the pillow and scatter the feathers. What is the meaning behind this? Why do we think about this on Yom Kippur?
- Additional story: The angels and the scale – Read the story with the children and discuss its meanings. How does it feel to focus on the good things we can do instead of the bad ones which we have discussed during Rosh Hashana and tashlich? What are the good things they could put on the scales?
- Why is Yom Kippur so different to other festivals? Discuss that Yom Kippur is the most solemn festival in the Jewish calendar. It is a day of repentance, a day to ask for forgiveness and say sorry for the bad things we have done in the past year. Adults fast, to empty their bodies and purify their hearts so that the new year can be a good year. It is a time for resolutions and for looking forward. Discuss the Kol Nidre appeal and giving tzedakah on Yom Kippur. Also discuss the traditions of washing away sins at the river, relating back to the Yom Kippur Story.
- Option 1: Wash Away Your Sins – Hand out a serviette or piece of kitchen roll to each child and explain that they are going to be doing something similar to the boy as they will be washing away their sins in a bowl of water. Ask them to think of something they are sorry for in the past year, for example saying something hurtful to a friend or sibling. Ask the children to wash their serviette in the water, squeezing the ink out. They will be able to see the ink running and their sins being washed away. Explore the idea that they want to wash these sins away forever, not for them to be redone in the year ahead.
- Option 3: Yom Kippur: The Day of Judgement Scales– Explain that on The Day of Judgement, we are judged by God who determines what kind of year the next will be for us. Introduce the idea of scales ‘weighing up’ our sins and kind acts that determine which book we go into. Inform the children that they will be making their very own set of mini scales which they will use to see which book they may go into for next year. (See How To Make Yom Kippur Scales sheet). (Tipping the scales story)
- Option 4: Their good deeds – draw/make good deeds to add either to the picture of a scale or to the mini-scales they have made themselves.
- Option 2: Compare Yom Kippur to a Normal Day – Using the sheet, children to compare Yom Kippur to a normal day. Teacher to discuss with children the different things we do on Yom Kippur compared to a normal day using the information from the brainstorm earlier.
- New Year Resolution – Children to discuss things that they will do in the new year showing that they are better than the previous year.