High Holiday Services with Kids

Engaging your children at synagogue.

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The Big Days

Traditional High Holiday services are long, often lasting from four to six hours. It's important to map out a plan for the family each day. For example, you might tell your school-age children that the family will be at services from 10am-12pm. Ask them what they ideally would like the experience to look like and brainstorm together how to make this happen. Children may decide to spend part of the time in the junior congregation, part of the time with you in the main service, and part of the time taking a break outside.

Bringing special treats to enjoy and toys to play with, and wearing new clothes are a few ways to help young children learn that these are special days to look forward to.

Parents often assume that older kids only want to socialize in synagogue. While there might be some truth to this, empowering teens to help craft their own spiritual experience can ease tensions over the day's schedule and help everyone take the day seriously.

When planning with children of any age, it is important to express your personal hopes and goals for the day. For example, explain that it is important to you to take time for yourself to pray in synagogue. Kids often assume that their parents are just "following the program." Changing that perception can make a great impact on children.

Here's to a good, sweet, and meaningful New Year for the whole family!

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Sarah Gershman

Sarah Gershman is a Teaching Fellow at the Partnership for Jewish Living and Learning in Rockville, MD. Sarah is the president of Green Room Speakers.