A wealth of books, music, and on-line articles are now available to help families through the flurry of getting ready for the High Holy Days season. From recipes parents can cook with their toddlers to music that homebound seniors can play, the Reform Movement has a host of resources for every age group.
For families, the on-line Jewish Parent Page has explanations of High Holy Day rituals, blessings in Hebrew and English, and recipes for special holiday mandelbrot and kugel children can make. There's also a section entitled "Ten Family Activity Ideas for the Days of Awe," which invites families to make Rosh Hashanah cards and placemats, learn about opportunities for tzedakah, and engage in other creative projects.
The UAHC Press has a large selection of holiday books for children, young adults, and adult learners. Very young children will delight in the colorful watercolor paintings that appear on every page of The High Holy Days, a new board book from author and illustrator Camille Kress. Using simple poetry - "On Rosh Hashanah, when friends and family meet/There are apples in honey, challah round and sweet" - Kress introduces early learners to the symbols and themes of the High Holy Days and the Jewish autumn festivals. The High Holy Days is the fifth in Kress's award-winning series of board books, which includes offerings on Chanukah, Pesach, Purim, and Shabbat.
Children in grades K through 3 will enjoy the brand-new edition of Night Lights: A Sukkot Story, which follows a brother and sister as they sleep in their family's backyard sukkah on a starry autumn night. Written by Barbara Diamond Goldin and illustrated by Laura Sucher, Night Lights pairs a classic text with all-new illustrations.
Also appropriate for children in this age group is Sophie and the Shofar, written by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Rosalind Charney Kaye. Bright, richly detailed pictures highlight this tale about two young cousins looking forward to celebrating Rosh Hashanah together until a missing shofar comes between them. T'shuvah - the importance of saying "I'm sorry" - is one of the book's major themes, and it also contains vivid, entertaining depictions of Rosh Hashanah traditions such as dipping apples in honey, going to synagogue, and making colorful "Shanah Tovah" cards.
For adult learners, the UAHC Press has issued A Faithful Heart: Preparing for the High Holy Days. The book takes the reader on a spiritual journey through Maaseh Avraham Avinu, a medieval compilation of midrashic tales about Abraham, the first acknowledged Jew. Author Benjamin Levy provides his own translation and commentary, and offers a study of Abraham's character that explores High Holy Day themes such as t'shuvah, belief in God, the efficacy of prayer, and the importance of making ethical choices.
The High Holy Days retails for $5.95 and Night Lights, Sophie and the Shofar, and A Faithful Heart retail for $12.95. All three can be ordered by calling the UAHC Press toll-free at (888) 489-UAHC, or visiting the UAHC Press Web site.
Those who love music, which plays such an integral role in the celebration of the High Holy Days, will enjoy Shirei T'shuvah: Songs of Repentance, a songbook and five-CD set that contains all the melodies in Gates of Repentance, the official Reform Movement High Holy Day prayer book. More than 300 selections are included, with arrangements by some of Jewish liturgical music's best composers, including Lewandowski, Steinberg, and Klepper. Every piece is arranged for solo voice and keyboard, making Shirei T'shuvah a perfect guide for cantorial soloists, rabbis and cantors without choirs, and congregational singing. The book and CD set contains melodies for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and S'lichot. They can be ordered by contacting Transcontinental Music Publications toll-free at (800) 455-5223, or visiting the Transcontinental Music Web site.
Congregational learning is also an important part of the High Holy Days. With Reaching for Holiness, a new UAHC program guide, clergy members and synagogue lay leaders can facilitate congregational study sessions on S'lichot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur afternoon, and Sukkot. The guide features more than a dozen original ideas for workshops, discussion groups, and text study sessions, allowing individual congregations to create programs appropriate for their members. A PDF file can be downloaded from the UAHC's Holidays Web site.