Editor’s Note: With the Rosh Hashanah holiday upon us, we wanted to share with you some insight and ideas on celebrating this festive occasion in the OC. As you’re reading it, please be sure to click on the highlighted links which connect to additional sources of information and photos. Whether you’re Jewish or just interested in learning more about cultural celebrations and world religions different from your own, this guide is a perfect starting point for learning more about how to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with kids in Orange County!
What is Rosh Hashanah?
Rosh Hashanah is a two-day celebration of the Jewish New Year; it’s also the start of the High Holy Days that end in Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah, similar to traditional other New Year’s celebrations, is a time to reflect on the past year. This holiday begins a ten-day period, also known as the Days of Awe, where we consider what we want to atone for and what we did right.
How is it celebrated?
Most practicing Jews take time off and attend a service at their local synagogue to hear the sounding of the shofar, a trumpet made from a ram’s horn (pictured in the featured image above). Then, people eat a meal filled with sweet food that will bring positivity to the upcoming year, including apples, honey, pomegranates, and round challah. Some people recite prayers near a body of water and throw bread or other food into the water to “cast off” their mistakes.
Some other traditional foods that are eaten during a Rosh Hashanah seder are kasha (an ancient grain also known as buckwheat with a delicious nutty flavor), string beans, potato kugel, beef brisket, and more!
How can you make a Rosh Hashanah celebration more kid-friendly?
I hope I’m not alone in this, but my kids cannot sit still for too long. So, our holiday celebrations have to be quick and/or entertaining. Here are some tried and true ideas from my family to yours of kid-friendly ways to celebrate this special occasion:
- Bake round challah. My oldest loves to make challah. Warning: it’s messy, but it’s a great way to bond with your kids.
- Talk about the previous year and make resolutions for the next year. It’s so enlightening to hear from your children what they loved and what they regretted, and what their hopes are for accomplishing in the coming year.
- Have a Tashlich or “casting off” ceremony. For older children, this can show them the importance of forgiveness and forgiving oneself. I use this to illustrate that parents make mistakes, too, but we can reflect and move on. If you need some help finding a good spot by the water to do this, check out our list of the best OC Beaches for family fun!
- Make a shofar. While there are some fancy tutorials, I’ll be honest, I hand my kids toilet paper tubes and let them paint or color them.
- Host an apple tasting. This is a favorite. Go to the store and buy a few varieties of apples; slice them and put them in bags. Have guests try one slice from each bag and rate it. Or visit one of the local apple orchards near Orange County and pick your own variety!
How do you celebrate Rosh Hashanah? Let me know if you try any of these ideas! L’Shana Tova!