Written by Rifki Orzech
If you have a kid in kindergarten, we can surmise there were unwearable cardboard flipper slippers for the pre-YK craft. They probably also came home with a feather-covered chicken-shaped greetings card illustrating the custom of kaparot. And with that the teachers tell kids: on Yom Kippur we try to be like angels, we don’t eat, wear white and don’t fight! Well, mom and dad don’t eat and it’s the kids’ “job” not to hinder fasting and davening too much, or so the teacher says.
There’s a run up to the day, where they’re squeezing the Yom Kippur curriculum in with that of Sukkot. If you want to add to it in a meaningful way, try the sorry box digital story and then make a real one before the chag! (Don’t they say there are a million things a child can do with a cardboard box, by just sitting in it? You have at least twelve hours to fill.)
This is a great exercise because children can be rigid. Sorry means sorry but the other person did it again! They fail to examine their own behavior. We need to model sincere apologies, but more than that, model forgiveness that allows for the other person’s humanity. See what you come up with and upload photos of your Sorry Box to our Facebook page.
You can keep an older child busy while preparing for Chag with a quiz, just to check you’re both on the same page. I don’t want to raise the bar too high but one of our young users had a lot of fun in Ji Studio and created his own digital story on the book of Jonah. He has five mini stories of his own stored on our portal. Maybe his preferred way of remembering is by doing something?
There’s Rosh Hashana, followed by ten days of custom and convention and then the big day: Yom Kippur I don’t know why it takes so long to prepare for a day when only 2/5 of my family are eating schnitzel sandwiches. You finish your pre-fast meal, brush your teeth, take one last drink and decide how the evening/day is going to go.
While the predominant themes are solemnity, atonement and repentance, you’ll find that your head is, as usual, split between practicalities and the spirituality of the day.
If all you manage is fasting, some tefilla and keeping your head…you’re rocking it. After all, Sandy Koufax is famous for not pitching on Yom Kippur in Game 1 of the World Series; never pitch into an argument when you haven’t eaten.
Here are a couple of tips to keep you on an even keel:
- Whether you’re taking them to shul or staying home, word to the wise, don’t scrimp on chag treats for non-fasters; it’s still a chag! If you’re staying home or had to return home, you’ll find that portioned out snacks are the way to go, it’s so much easier for the parent taking their slot.
- Whether you get a turn in shul or your couch becomes your pew, don’t forget to visit your library or game swap with a neighbour so there’s something fresh and new to play with. Some put a few toys away a few weeks beforehand then bring them out when boredom hits so the kids can greet them like long lost…toys.
When the last blast of the season rings out to herald the day’s end, you’re all ready with l’shanah habah b’yerushalayim, a cup of coffee and your hammer and nails for the hat trick chag of the season. You can stick those slippers and chickens on the sukkah walls…
Rifki Orzech is an olah, a mother of three and a content writer with five years’ experience. She is passionate about women learning Torah and has completed the Susi Bradfield Educational Leadership Programme for Jewish women at the London School of Jewish Studies.