Holidays & Programs
Rosh HaShanah (literally, "Head of the Year") is the celebration of the Jewish New Year, observed on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. It marks the beginning of a ten-day period of prayer, self-examination and repentance, culminating on the fast day of Yom Kippur. While there are elements of joy and celebration, Rosh HaShanah is a deeply religious occasion. The customs and symbols of Rosh HaShanah reflect the holiday's dual emphasis, happiness and humility. Special customs observed on Rosh HaShanah include; the sounding of the shofar, using round challah, eating apples and honey (and other sweet foods) for a sweet new year.
Yom Kippur is the "Day of Atonement" and refers to the annual Jewish observance of fasting, prayer and repentance. This is considered to be the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Fasting is seen as fulfilling this biblical commandment. The Yom Kippur fast also enables us to put aside our physical desires and to concentrate on our spiritual needs through prayer, repentance and self-improvement. It is customary in the days before Yom Kippur for Jews to seek out friends and family whom they have wronged and personally ask for their forgiveness.
Sukkot, a Hebrew word meaning "booths" or "huts," refers to the Jewish festival of giving thanks for the fall harvest, as well as the commemoration of the forty years of Jewish wandering in the desert after Sinai. Sukkot is celebrated five days after Yom Kippur on the 15th of Tishrei and is marked by several distinct traditions. One tradition, which takes the commandment to "dwell in booths" literally, is to build a sukkah, a booth or hut. A sukkah is often erected by Jews during this festival, and it is common practice for some to eat and even live in these temporary dwellings during Sukkot. We shake the lulav (palm branch, myrtle & willow) and etrog (lemon like fruit) in all directions to show that God is everywhere.
Simchat Torah, Hebrew for "rejoicing in the Law", celebrates the completion of the annual reading of the Torah. Simchat Torah is a joyous festival, in which we affirm our view of the Torah as a tree of life and demonstrate a living example of never-ending, lifelong study. Torah scrolls are taken from the ark and carried or danced around the synagogue seven times. During the Torah service, the concluding section of Deuteronomy is read, and immediately following, the opening section of Genesis, or B'reishit as it is called in Hebrew, is read.
Thanksgiving - During the week of Thanksgiving, the children will beat the drums, celebrate the Pilgrims and Native Americans and feast on traditional holiday foods. We will take a “pretend” ride on the Mayflower and give each child an Indian name. The children are also given the chance to share what they are “THANKFUL” for.
Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, is observed for eight days beginning on the evening of the twenty fifth day of the month of Kislev. Chanukah is a wonderful holiday of renewed dedication, faith, hope and spiritual light. It's a holiday that says: "Never lose hope."
Chanukah commemorates several miracles; the victory of a small band of soldiers (Macabees) over the pagan Syrian-Greeks who ruled over Israel and the small amount of oil found to relight the eternal flame lasted for 8 days until more pure oil could be pressed.
During Chanukah, the boys and girls will sing songs, share poems about the many symbols of the holiday, act out the story and recite the blessings as they light the menorah. The children will celebrate the holiday with games and snacks in their classrooms following the program.
Tu B’shevat, is the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, known as Tu B’Shevat, is the New Year for Trees. It can also be called the birthday of the trees. For our celebration of this holiday, we plan a morning full of interactive games, experiences, song and dance. The children participate in a birthday party for the trees complete with fruit and a special tree cupcake.
In the afternoon, we gather for a Tu B’shevat powerpoint seder. It displays various cups of juice representing the seasons and a variety of fruit that the children enjoy tasting. Although we do not acknowledge trees on a daily basis, trees are a valuable resource in our lives. The children share many ideas why trees are important, learn the parts of a tree and decorate our halls with trees. As a special task, the children will plant parsley for us to use at our Passover programs in the spring.
“It is a tree of life to them that hold fast to it and all its supporters are happy” Richard Siverman
Purim, Every year, we anticipate the excitement we will see on the children’s faces as we tell the story of Purim. Could it be the mention of mean Haman with all the boos and hisses that will get the excitement going? We tell the story of King Ahasuerus and his love for parties. He even traded Queen Vashti for Queen Esther because Vashti no longer wanted to come to his never-ending parties. We also hear how Mordecai and Queen Esther convince this silly, party loving King to save the Jewish people from the terrible plan Haman had made for them. Every year we celebrate with costumes, songs, a parade and a play. We just cannot wait to see everyone’s wonderful costume. Additionally, the children become little bakers when we make hamantashen to share throughout the holiday.
Passover or Pesach (as it is called in Hebrew), is the festival that reminds us of when the Jewish people were slaves in Egypt about 3,500 years ago and how God freed them from the evil Egyptian king Pharaoh. Pesach starts on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan, at the full moon. It lasts for eight days (seven in Israel).
This Hebrew word means ‘to pass over’. It reminds us of God’s promise to "pass over” the Jewish people when he sent the last plague onto Egypt. This last plague was the worst one that he sent to force Pharaoh to free the Jews. When the Jewish people left Egypt, they were in such a hurry that they did not have time to bake their bread dough in ovens. So they carried the unbaked dough on their backs, and as they were walking, it cooked in the sun. It became hard and flat and was called ‘matzah’. During Pesach it is a mitzvah (commandment) to eat matzah. "Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread." (Exodus 12:15).
The children will sing holiday songs, review the symbols of the seder plate, listen to the story of Passover, enjoy movement activities and, of course, taste some traditional holiday food. Parents are welcome, but not required to join us.
The children will participate in a sensory seder. They will taste, touch, smell, hear, look and experience many different things related to the Passover holiday. Parents are welcome to assist with the stations.
The children will recite blessings, share their knowledge about the holiday symbols and act out the story of Passover complete with props and songs. A model seder meal will be served and guests are invited. A program that you do not want to miss!
During the school year we have many special programs that both our parents and children can enjoy. We hope that you participate in many of them and continue to help us build our community.
Muffins with Moms - Do you want a day off from making breakfast? Want to spend some quality time with your child at school? Want someone to serve you? Join us for muffins with mom before the start of school. We have planned an activity for you to do with your child.
Donuts with Dads - Are you out the door early and want to have a little nosh with your little son or daughter? Bring your child to school and enjoy some coffee, treat and sweets. Play a round of duck, duck goose, color a picture or sit and talk sports with other dads.
Siblings and Sundaes - A highlight of our year and a very popular event. Families join together for some social fun time. We dance, play board games, do puzzles, ride bikes, and of course, make our very own ice cream sundaes. No worries, we always have ice pops for our allergic or lactose sensitive friends.
Grandparents and Goodies - Grandmoms, grandpops, bubbies, zaydas and caregivers (any V.I.P. in your child’s life) are invited to spend some very special time with their little friend. Breakfast will be served and activities will be planned.
Grandpartents Breakfast & Shabbat - What’s better than an intergenerational program? The answer is a morning that combines grandparents, grandchildren, food, singing and prayers. The members of our Grandparent’s club are invited to join their grandchildren for breakfast and a very lively musical Shabbat service. We sing, celebrate, have fun all together and make some wonderful memories.