Yom Kippur is a tricky holiday to put together a family program for: on the one hand, you don’t want to treat the subjects of atonement, sin, forgiveness, and punishment insensitively or in ways that are difficult for children to understand, but you also don’t want to produce a content-less program. Flora and I talked a lot about what would be the most appropriate way to discuss these difficult subjects in a family setting, and I’m really proud of the program we put together.
We opened with letter-shaped cookies, which were to remind us of how we want to be written in the books of life and happiness. We wanted to make book-shaped cookies, but I couldn’t figure out how to make book-shaped cookie cutters. Then we sang Zochreinu LeChayim with the families and learned about the book of life that we write our names in with our good deeds. And for this event, since we had no puppet show, I wrote a story that Flora read out loud to the children. In the story, a little angel learns the importance of saying “I’m Sorry” — you can read the story here.
After this, we took out our model Yom Kippur scales, on which we could weigh good and bad deeds. We talked to the kids about good deeds (sharing, helping people, playing nicely together) and bad deeds (hitting, shouting at people, not sharing), and then asked each parent and child to find a place to sit together and discuss a good deed or a bad deed that they wanted to share with a group. The parents and children drew their deeds on little cards, which they then shared with the group and added to the scale.
Then the kids got to decorate their letter-shaped cookies to make them extra-sweet. We had a few different colors of frosting, sprinkles, m&ms, and more! As always, we closed with Kiddush together and a light lunch, including a delicious vegetable couscous soup contributed by one of the families.