3 High Holiday Lessons for Children

“The high holidays are a time of reflection, where we get a second chance in life…”


Children are naturally curious about everything happening around them, and different holidays are no exception. They’ll want to know what the different holidays represent and why we celebrate them. Teaching lessons from the high holidays to elementary and middle school children are an excellent opportunity to examine the significance of “I’m sorry” and forgiveness. A simple way to explain the concepts is to read a book about the meaning of this holy and sacred time.

The high holidays, such as Yom Kippur, along with the related holiday of Rosh HaShanah, are one of the two components of Judaism’s “High Holy Days.” Though fasting is one of the essential Yom Kippur rituals that children may be too young for, they can still grasp the concepts of “saying sorry” and “making things right.”

Here are 3 activities that can help teach important life lessons from the Jewish holidays:

1. Teaching the Importance of Forgiveness

Forgiveness and starting a sweet new year are often spoken about around the holidays. You may read a story about forgiveness to your kid, make a list of people they want to “say sorry to,” as well you can help your kid to write a letter to someone they want to apologize to. Perform a model of expressing sorry with a help of toys to show little kids how to do it. Aside from issuing apologies, practice and talk about the considerably more challenging act of accepting apologies and forgiving people.


2. Planning for the Future

We take time during the High Holidays to think about what we did well in the past year and what we need to do more work on to improve for the year ahead. We make Teshuva to correct our behavior and actions in the new year so that we may do better in the future. One of the best ways to get excited for the year ahead is to make resolutions. Sit with your discuss what they want to change in the year ahead. This can be reminded throughout the year. 


3. Doing Something Good, Throughout the Year

A key component of the High Holidays is setting resolutions for self-improvement and global change. Get your family involved in Tzedakah by volunteering or donating to charity. This will be a great example for your kids, teaching them kindness and helping others during the holidays and beyond.

Jewish life at BES is taught and experienced in school through holiday observances, Israel education, Torah studies, life cycle events, and customs, as well as prayers. It is this connection between our Jewish heritage and our daily activities in school that helps foster a sense of Jewish identity in our students.