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October 7, 2015 | 24th Tishrei 5776
Home  /  Worship, Music and Spirituality  /  iWorship Wisdom Archives  /  High Holy Day Youth Attendance and Services  / 
High Holy Day Youth Attendance and Services


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  • Yom Kippur Youth Services
  • Youth/Teen Services and Worship Relevance

  1. Some of our teens are not interested in our regular adult services, and try to spend as much time helping the younger children as possible. While this is a service to our congregation, I feel like we are not offering them something meaningful on the High Holidays. The other thing we have tried with some success is offering the teens parts leading our services, especially during the day on Yom Kippur. I was thinking this year of approaching our ritual committee and rabbi about a One-hour discussion program for the teens before they join the regular services. It could mix education and personal reflection on the meaning of the holiday to teens.
    280 Families

  2. As the former president of the Senior Youth Group at my temple, I can speak for the youth of the congregation when I say that our Teen Services on High Holidays is a great addition to the regular service. Our Teen Service is done for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in the afternoon on each day. It does not replace the regular service. The youth group writes and leads the entire service and it's open to 6-12 graders. Many teens also go to regular services in the morning or help out with the K-5 programming in addition to coming to Teen Services.
    800 Families

  3. Mar 2005 Digest 049

                We have a very successful family service (grade 3 to 6 and families) for YK and RH morning. For many years we've used our own service. This year we've purchased Gates of Repentance for Young People (CCAR Press). We hire a student rabbi and cantorial soloist to run it. The children and families take turns volunteering to read parts of the service.

  4. March 2007 Digest 039

                …Currently, the children (K--6th grade) alternate between age appropriate activities in classrooms for approximately an hour and then an hour in an age appropriate service. Our wonderful educator has developed activities for the classrooms while she leads the services. The issue is that we utilize parent and teen volunteers in the classrooms. It is difficult for these volunteers to keep the children fully engaged for the time that is spent there and the volunteers are not totally comfortable acting as teachers and disciplinarians. In addition, the volunteers are not able to participate in the adult worship services.


    360 member families
  5. March 2007 Digest 040

                …we had to move to a split service, to accommodate the growing numbers in our congregation in the same sanctuary space. We went from providing elementary programming for three and one half hours +/- to programming for one hour and a half hours.

                Bur here are some practical suggestions that we instituted that have carried over to the abbreviated time as well perhaps you will find them helpful.

                Our Religious School Director knows all the kids, she and her assistant are there on the holiday in the halls greeting people, trouble shooting just like any other school day. She makes a point of stressing to all the families that the HHD while joyous and a day off from school (most of our local schools are closed because of the size of the community) it is a holiday of respect and reflection. Not the kind of school holiday that say secular New Year's is…

                Many of our Religious School teachers are not affiliated and we offered them admission to our Erev RH, Kol Nidrei, and Yizkor as a compensation for "working." Now with split session they can attend the second service (jr. cong is only offer @ the early service. Families with children in grades K-4 are only invited to the early service. Yes it can be an issue but we deal with it)

                My daughter who has worked in youth advisory/ed through college and now in grad school…has always been paid very handsomely to work the HHD. If your congregation can afford monetary reimbursement go for it. It truly steps up the level of commitment and professionalism you get from your" teacher."

                We ask our families to pre-register for the HHD Jr. Congregation. Not all do of course but this way it gives us an idea. Our Religious School Director groups the kids with their regular class. So all the kids that are in 2nd grade early session on Sunday are together, 3rd grade Monday afternoon, etc.

                We try to keep the curriculum interactive and at a high level of learning. We look at it as a gift of an added day of Religious School. We don't do boring busy work. And we have at times added an extra song session for the younger ones. If you have a youth who is a NFTY song leader you're golden.

                Finally, when we went to split session we had more room so we decreased the age at which you could attend the adult service to 5th grade. This has also made a tremendous difference. It is now the parents’ responsibility to see that Ben and Rebecca behave in the main sanctuary. The older kids are bored with Jr. Cong by 5-6th grade. They can benefit from the grandeur and spirit of the service. The Rabbi's sermon becomes talking pts at dinner later. So if you have the space I would recommend providing jr. cong for K-4.


    1050 families+/-
  6. March 2007 Digest 041

                We dealt with the HHD Youth Worship problem by creating a separate service for our Family Service audience. Kids from grades 2-6 and their parents come to this alternative service and it has become a great success. We have a separate cantor and rabbi leading the service (but this can be done at a smaller synagogue by educated lay people certainly) and uses the regular Gates of Repentance. The differences are:


    1) We have our Youth choir sing a few prayers

    2) We have some of our post-bar/bat mitzvah students chant Torah

    3) In lieu of a sermon, we have an interactive story/q&a kind of thing

    4) the service is 1/2 hour shorter than the main service


                Oh, and the kids are sitting and praying and learning with their parents! Best part!


                It has been extremely successful with great feedback from kids and parents alike. In this way, we don't have to deal with additional faculty in classrooms or having a fractured community on the holy days.

  7. March 2007 Digest 042

                Last year, for the first time, we held a "second" service on Rosh HaShanah morning. It was originally intended for families whose kids were too old for the Children's Service (for 2-6-year olds), but not comfortable in a full-length service. Our rabbis spent a good deal of time crafting it.

                Turns out it was wildly successful. Our half-time rabbi led, with an HUC student as song-leader, while our two full-time rabbis and the cantor held the "regular" service at [a theater] about ten blocks away. The congregation in the Sanctuary numbered about 600 (unofficial), close to a full house. A fair number of adults came, and were extremely happy with it. We will expand it to include a Yom Kippur morning service this year.

  8. Sept 2007 Digest 173

                …We first set about changing the Yom Kippur service for kids. (These comments relate to services for 1-6 graders, though they are broken up into 1st.2nd--3rd.4th--5th.6th --as groups.) Rather than follow the traditional order of things, we focused on one prayer--the U'netaneh Tokef --and draped the entire service along its three themes--Repentance, Prayer and Charity. During the "Repentance" section of the service, we recite the Kol Nidrei and a confessional (all age appropriate); during the "Prayer" section, we do a very basic skeletal prayer section--Barchu-Shema-Avot-G'vurot. During the "Charity" section, we discuss the reading from Isaiah, about what is a good fast (for the older kids) or Jonah, for the younger kids, about concern for others in general. We then end the service with the ending of N’ilah--the multiple repetitions and T'kiah G'dolah. We tried it one year, honed it the next, and we have it pretty down now, to great attention and understanding.

               This year, we are implementing a new Rosh HaShanah service. [Below is] my very basic description of it from what was approved before we drafted.

                I've taken the Shofar service (the part right at the end of the Torah service) and draped elements of the service around the three sections of that service: Malchuyot, Zichronot, Shofarot.
                The basic service outline is as follows--though some of this is oral:

    1. Kids come in to hinei matov.

    2. There is then some commentary or story, depending on whether it's the 1+2's, 3+4's, or 5+6's.

    3. First prayer is Barchu. Seems to be the right way to call to worship.

    4. The "shofar service" concept is then introduced and explained, and we bless the shofar and say the she'hechianu. There is more detail in the older service.

    5. Malchuyot: the younger service gets English readings and Sh’ma. The older service gets aleinu, sh’ma, some reading. They both end with shofar blowing, though the older service also gets a more formal areshet s'fateinu at the end.

    6. Zichronot: younger service gets English and a discussion of remembering. Older service gets a more mature responsive reading (it’s from Gates of Repentance) and the Avot section of the Amidah, which is about remembrance. Same shofar ending.

    7. Shofarot: this will in essence be the "Torah" portion of the service. Begins with source material from exodus, that segues into "we read the torah" and then the youngest get creation and the oldest get the Akeidah. Same shofar blowing ending.

    8. Concluding prayers. Avinu Malkeinu, etc.


    1200 members

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