Below, you will find a selection of activities for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for combining learning (books) and gentle movement (yoga poses) written by one of our lovely Kids Yoga Stories Ambassadors, Synthia Gerson.
Synthia here, a Kids Yoga Stories Ambassador! I am also a Yoga Yeladi teacher offering kids yoga with a Jewish twist.
Depending on where you live, you may not know anyone who is Jewish. You may be wondering what the most important Jewish holidays are. You might assume that Hanukah (any way it is spelled) is the most important Jewish holiday, but this is not the case.
The Jewish calendar is lunar based, and two important Jewish holidays occur in the fall, in September or October. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are sometimes called the High Holidays.
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Fun Facts about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
- Rosh Hashanah comes first. This is the Jewish New Year, which is traditionally celebrated by going to synagogue (sometimes called temple) and at home.
- Traditional foods for Rosh Hashanah include apples, honey, and pomegranates for a sweet new year and a round challah that may include raisins and may also be dipped in honey.
- Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, comes ten days after Rosh Hashanah.
- Yom Kippur is a day that adults over bar or bat mitzvah age fast for 24 hours from sunset to sunset.
- This day of fasting is ended with a meal of dairy breakfast foods and called a break the fast.
- The shofar—a ram’s horn—is an ancient wind instrument that is played or sounded every day during the last month of the Jewish year and on both of the High Holidays.
- A shofar can be straight with a slight curve or spiral.
- The blast of the shofar reminds us to think about our actions and learn to be to better.
Fiction Picture Books about the High Holidays for Young Readers
(I only picked books that were available from my local library system on Overdrive or Hoopla. Hopefully, these books are also available from your local library or library system.)
This article contains Amazon affiliate links.
Sammy Spider’s First Book of Jewish Holidays
by Sylvia A. Rouss
Sammy the Spider explores Jewish holiday during the Jewish calendar year. This book is short but a good introduction to Jewish holidays for children ages 2+.
Talia and the Very Yum Kippur
by Linda Elovitz Marshall
This book could be shared with ages 2+, but would probably be best understood by children ages 4+. This book explains Yom Kippur traditions in kid friendly language and includes a recipe for a traditional sweet kugel for the break the fast meal, which is traditionally a dairy meal.
Jewish Holiday Origami
by Joel Stern
Origami can be incorporated into a mindfulness practice and mindful crafts with kids. High Holiday themed origami in this book include a shofar (or ram’s horn) and a siddur (or prayer book).
Other Jewish-Themed Yoga Books:
I wanted to share some of my favorite Jewish-themed yoga books.
I Am the Tree of Life: My Jewish Yoga Book
by Rabbi Mychal Copeland
I would recommend this book for ages 3+ reading only a page or two at a time. I shared Tree Pose with “I am the Tree of Life. The stories of the Torah come alive in me” with my Jewish preschool classes.
Alef-Bet Yoga for Kids
by Ruth Goldeen
This is a Hebrew alphabet book with a yoga pose for every letter of the alphabet. I would recommend this book for ages 3+ or ages 2+ with assistance from an adult.
The Promise of Shabbat: Yoga Poses for Happy Kids
by Lisa Schreiber
I would recommend this book for ages 3+ with adult assistance or school-age independent readers. Lisa offers a great virtual mini-workshop from Kidding Around Yoga called “Exploring the Jewish and Yogic Connection in the Classroom, Home, and Community.”
5 Yoga Poses to Honor the High Holidays
1. Practice Mountain Pose with Toe-Ga
How to practice Mountain Pose: stand tall with your legs hip-width apart and toes pointing forward. Take your arms straight alongside your body. Take in a deep breath. Now, use your toes to pick up red, yellow, and green pompoms, pretending that you are picking up apples and dipping them into honey. If you don’t have any pompoms, just pretend. Continue picking up “apples” for a few moments, making sure you use both feet.
2. Practice Tree Pose
How to practice Tree Pose: stand on one leg. Bend the knee of the leg you are not standing on, place the sole of your foot on the opposite inner thigh or calf (just not on your knee), and balance. Switch sides and repeat the steps. Pretend to be an apple tree.
3. Practice Chair Pose
How to practice Chair Pose: stand tall in Mountain Pose with your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees, and keep a straight spine. Hold your hands out in front of you. Pretend to be sitting in a chair as you eat your holiday meal.
4. Practice Table Top Pose
How to practice Table-top Pose: come to an all-fours position with your fingers spread out and palms flat on the ground. Ensure that your back and neck are in a straight but neutral position. Your shoulders should be over your wrists, and your hips should be over your knees while the tops of your feet are flat on the ground. Pretend to be the table that is set and ready for the holiday meal.
5. Practice Bee Breath
How to practice Bee Breath: as you exhale, keep your mouth closed and make a long “mmm” sound, practicing the Shofar breath, like blowing a horn. Then inhale through your nose, keeping your mouth closed. Repeat the humming sound as you exhale. Close your eyes and continue in this way for a few minutes or as long as it feels comfortable. You could also cup your hands over your ears to intensify the “mmm” sound.
About the Author
Are you looking for more Jewish-themed yoga resources? Kidding Around Yoga can help you find those resources. I am a Yoga Yeladim teacher offering kids yoga with a Jewish twist. Yoga Yeladim is the ultimate fusion of Jewish learning, body awareness, and spiritual understanding, all rolled up in a yoga mat. Yoga Yeladim provides tools to incorporate yoga and meditation within a Jewish curriculum. You can take an online Yoga Yeladim training without being a Kidding Around Yoga teacher or a yoga teacher. Feel free to reach out to me, Synthia Gerson, with questions or for more information about this training.