Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year – begins at sundown September 16, 2012. With themes of hope, renewal and a sweet new year, there are so many ways to get kids involved in the Rosh Hashanah holiday. But if you think worshiping in the synagogue is the only way to have family togetherness during the holiday, think again! Here are five tips for getting the kiddos involved in Rosh Hashanah to assure you will have a kid-friendly Jewish New Year.

Create New Years Cards — Many people send cards wishing friends and family a happy new year. Encourage the kids to pick a friend or two and create a hand-made card with them in mind. It’s as easy as folding a sheet of white construction paper in half and then affix apple stickers or draw apples on the cover. Write a simple note inside and your young artist has a card she can be proud of making.

Apple and Honey Tasting — Apples and honey are hallmarks of the Rosh Hashanah holiday, signifying a sweet new year. Use the holiday and the symbols to teach kids about different varieties of apples and honey while at the same time, explaining the significance of these two items to the holiday. Cut up red, green and yellow apples for an apple tasting and have the kiddos draw the color apple they like best. You can do the same with different varieties of honey.

Happy Birthday to the World — Since Rosh Hashanah does celebrate another year for the earth, why not create a simple birthday party for the world activity. Check out a Happy Birthday to the world book from the library and read it as a family. Then celebrate the earth by making cupcakes or a cake and singing Happy Birthday. How about an apples and spice cupcake to tie in the holiday fruit?

Apple Jacks Necklace — A simple activity to teach kids about the Jewish New Year while integrating the apple symbol is making Apple Jacks cereal necklaces. It’s as easy as cutting a string of yarn and having the wee ones string the cereal loops on the necklaces. This is a simple and easy craft for the preschool-aged kids.

Practice Tashlich — Many kids are too young to sit through a traditional Rosh Hashanah service in a synagogue or house of worship. A great way to bring families together during the holiday is to participate in the Rosh Hashanah ritual of Tashlich, which is the Hebrew translation of “casting off” the sins of the previous year. People symbolize this cleanse by tossing pieces of bread or crackers into the ocean or a body of water. The water carrying the bread away represents starting the New Year with a clean slate. Make Tashlich a part of your Rosh Hashanah celebration by visiting a local beach, lake or pond, and have each family member toss small pieces into the water while talking about the new year ahead.

Integrating these simple Rosh Hashanah practices into your holiday celebration is a great way to build family holiday traditions with the kids. And simple crafts and concepts will help the kiddos appreciate religion in a way that’s fun and memorable.

What are your family’s Rosh Hashanah traditions? Does your family do something special to mark the holiday? Share how your family celebrates in a comment below.

— Leah R. Singer

Photo Credit: Leah R. Singer

Photo Captions: apples and honey platter (top); Tashlich services (bottom)