In autumn, there are three main Jewish festivals: Rosh Hashana (Jewish new year), Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (Festival of Shelters). Rosh Hashana is followed by the Days of Awe, ten days of soul searching and repentant prayer. These lead up to Yom Kippur, which is the day of forgiveness. Succot follows five days later. Here are some ways you could incorporate these festivals into your faith at home.

Blow a loud wind instrument

Rosh Hashana is the day when God’s people celebrate God making the world, and that he is King of the Universe. There’s something about declaring this that puts our troubles into perspective. At Rosh Hashana, also known as the Festival of Trumpets, the shofar or ram’s horn trumpet is blown as a celebration of God being King of the Universe (the shofar is traditionally used at a king’s coronation). If you don’t have a shofar handy, you could use a trumpet, a recorder or even a cardboard tube and say this blessing:

“Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam!”

“We bless you, Lord our God, King of the Universe!”

If you’d like to hear how this is sung, check out the video at youthandchildrens. work/Links.

Bake some honey mini-muffins

We love food-related rituals and Jewish festivals are good for foodies! At Rosh Hashana, it’s traditional to eat sweet foods, especially honey, to represent a sweet new year. In the past, we have enjoyed dipping apple slices in honey, but this year we will try honey mini-muffins, taken from everydayjewishmom. com.

  • Preheat your oven to 210°C.
  • Grease your mini-muffin tin.
  • Dice two small apples and set them aside for later.
  • Mix two cups of plain flour with one teaspoon of baking powder, half a teaspoon of baking soda and a pinch of cinnamon.
  • In another bowl, mix two eggs, three-quarters of a cup of honey, half a cup of coffee, and a tablespoon of coconut oil.
  • Mix the ingredients of the two bowls together, together with the diced apples.
  • Fill the mini-muffin tins to the top.
  • Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

If you’re more of a bread person, why not try making a round, honey-dipped challah bread instead? The shape represents God’s King of the Universe crown and eternal life. You’ll find good recipes at

Throw some breadcrumbs into water

On Rosh Hashana, Jews perform ‘tashlich’, which involves visiting a body of water (for us, this is our local river) and throwing breadcrumbs into it as a symbol of casting away our sins, which recalls Micah 7:19: “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”

Lots of families do teaspoon (tsp) prayers, encouraging their children to say ‘thank you’, ‘sorry’ and ‘please’ each day. We do a weekly ‘sorry’ when we wash our hands at our Shabbat meal on a Friday, but I like the idea of using different physical rituals to help us imagine and experience God’s forgiveness in a different way. If you don’t have any water near you, you could ad lib with a bowl or the bath!

Read the whole story of Isaac

During Rosh Hashana, the whole story of Isaac will be read from Genesis 21-22 in the synagogue. I love the idea of reading large chunks of the Bible, so our challenge is to find a good time to read this whole story from the Bible. We’ll read chapters 23 and 24 as well. We might also do the Godly Play version, which will give us a shorter overview, but is also a way to play with the story and explore where we are in it.


On Yom Kippur, it’s traditional to fast, ignoring our physical desires, and focusing instead on our spiritual needs. This is always hard, but it’s a good way to focus on what really matters, as Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3: “People do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

Wear white clothes

This tradition is honoured by some Jews on Yom Kippur as a symbol of purity because it’s a day of spiritual cleansing. It may also relate to the special garments the high priest wore when performing the rituals in the Holy of Holies, as written in Leviticus 16. Why not try wearing one white item for the day as a way of remembering what Jesus, our great High Priest, did for us (see Hebrews 4:14-16)?

Eat in a shelter

The main ritual for Sukkot is to erect a ‘sukkah’: a small, temporary booth or shelter, and ‘live’ in it for seven days. Sukkot commemorates the 40 years God’s people wandered in the desert. The shelters represent the frail huts the Israelites lived in in the desert, and how God provided for them then, and, by inference, for his people today. Living in the shelter is interpreted in many ways. Why not try sitting, eating a meal or a snack, star-gazing, playing a game and even sleeping in it?

We have made a shelter in various ways, including putting up a tent in the garden. Traditionally, the booth is covered with fruit, as Sukkot is a celebration of the autumn harvest. You could make a ‘den’ using bamboo sticks and cover it with a sheet and eat a meal or a snack inside. Chat about what it would have been like to live in the desert. What do you think you would have enjoyed? What might you have disliked?

Wave branches and lemons!

Details of the Festival of Shelters can be found in Leviticus 23:33-44, including the verse that says: “take branches from luxuriant trees - from palms, willows and other leafy trees - and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.”

One Jewish tradition is to do this by making a ‘lulav’, which is a combination of date palm, willow and myrtle branches, held together by a woven palm branch. The ‘etrog’, is a fruit a bit like a lemon with a citrus smell. A prayer is said over the lulav and etrog, then they are waved in six directions - north, south, east, west, up and down - to symbolise that God can be found in all directions, not just in one place.

Read some psalms

Traditionally, Psalms 113-118 are read during Sukkot. Why not try reading one each day for a week?