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September 3, 2015 | 19th Elul 5775
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Bedtime Rituals

Crafting Jewish Tradition for Young Children

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  • Look together at a Jewish children’s book and play with a Jewish toy, such as a cloth mezuzah, a stuffed animal with Jewish symbols, or Hebrew cloth blocks.
  • Talk about what you were thankful for today.
  • Say the Sh’ma, a word at a time, slowly. Try to recite while covering the eyes. Does it feel different?
  • Sing a Jewish song.

The Sh'ma
The Sh'ma has been the Jewish declaration of faith for thousands of years. Jews everywhere say the Sh'ma, but especially in the morning and at night, to remind ourselves that life is a gift from God.

It is our personal and communal expression of belief in God and in the unity of the Jewish people, as well as our recognition that there is a relationship between God and the Jewish people.


The Sh'ma is between you and God and between you and your child. It is an expression of belief and affection. Feel free to express love for your child as you express love for God. Show your affection visibly.

What Works Best for you and your child should be your guide to crafting your own Jewish bedtime ritual. You can begin by just reciting the Sh'ma, or looking at colorful picture books, or humming a relaxing melody.

Transforming bedtime into Jewish time lets your child understand that being Jewish is a way of life, and a constant source of comfort.

Creating Family Memories
This is a perfect time to begin establishing family traditions and creating lasting memories for your child. Fashion a family album with your child's help, talk about your "family tree," look at photos, and tell family stories. Include grandparents or other relatives in this process of discovery.

Ritual is an important part of what holds us together as a family. We all have rituals that touch our lives. The purpose of Jewish ritual is to provide us with a sense of connection with the Jewish people and to infuse into our daily lives a feeling of familiarity and belonging. Books are tools that we use to pass on our beliefs, family stories, and values to our children in a colorful, pleasing, and inviting way. Identify books that are appropriate for your child's age from the resources listed here or from many others that are available. Choose your emphasis from the concepts of

God and Spirituality
Torah-Language and Learning
Israel-Land and People

And above all, use what works best for you and your child.

Review the Day and make it holy. Time is sacred. It gives us the opportunity to make the world a better place. Talk about what made your child's day special, how your child helped someone today, and how someone helped him/her. How did the day make you feel? What were you thankful for today? Sing a Jewish Song to your child. Jewish melodies and lyrics are renowned for their beauty, warmth, and calming effect on children of all ages. Hum or sing along with tapes while you and your child listen and learn the songs. Look for suggestions in the listed resources.



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