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October 8, 2015 | 25th Tishrei 5776
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Yom Kippur Youth Services


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  • High Holy Day Youth Attendance and Services
  • Youth/Teen Services and Worship Relevance

  1. 1. T'shuvahGrams: Make up telegram forms with a To/From Box at the top. Even young children can be helped to repent their shortcomings (not putting away their toys, picking up their clothes, being mean to the dog/cat/brother/sister, etc...). Recasting old traditions in a liberal form, the leader might explain the old ritual of schluggen kapores (that's the swinging chicken thing), and stuff all of the sins (now on paper) into a paper maché chicken (or duck if you prefer) and float it off in the sunset. 2. Word finds: In the past, I have used butcher paper to make a large (9x12 ft.) mat with grids and letters. The words, which can go diagonally, up, down or backwards, can all have something to do with the holiday and the theme of repentance. Words like: Yom Kippur, shofar, Torah, sin, sorry, etc... The children can be divided into teams. When the team is given their word, the children stand on the letters. 3. Puzzles: Children can be given construction paper and crayons or markers to decorate them. (You could even copy coloring book pictures of holiday symbols for really young children.) When finished, they (or leader) can cut them up into about twelve pieces, jigsaw fashion. The children can exchange them with each other to put them together, or take them home for the family to reassemble. 4. Stories: There a many nice stories for the holidays which can be read to the children. I like the one about the little boy who could not read the prayers, but knew the alphabet. He recited the alef-bet and let G-d put them together in G-d's own words. (For those who might be offended by my spelling in the previous sentence, despite my Day School education, I write it this way in memory of the beautiful letters I remember receiving from my grandmother as a child, where she always wrote "G-d" in this way. These letters were always signed, "Love, Your Grandmother, Pauline...".)

  2. One year I ran the children's program for my synagogue...which was a service and several activities (age appropriate in different rooms for different age groups) that ran concurrent with the adult service. The most popular and meaningful activity I came up with was the "peace links" that every group made. Strips of paper were linked together, (with glue) but the kids were first instructed to draw on the strips pictures of people/things/places/ideas they loved and then based on the age, they talked about what they wanted for the people/things/places/ideas they loved. Some kids, of course, drew their pets, older kids drew "freedom" and other concepts in addition to family members. Eventually the concept of peace made it into the discussion. Hence the peace links...and the idea that we together must link with each other to create peace in the world...then all the links...those made individually and those made from room to room, were connected and then used to decorate the temple sukkah a few days later. I think in today's world this is a particularly poignant time to bring out that peace link.


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