Rosh Hashanah is one of my favorite holidays of the Jewish year. It is a happy holiday, it signals the start of fall, it’s customary to eat a sweet meal of apples and pomegranates and honey symbolizing hopes for a sweet new year, and you get to listen to the shofar blow, which I think must bring out the excited child in everyone. Who doesn’t love that ear piercing, awkward, yet awe-inspiring sound?
But it is also a sneaky holiday. One day you’re on the beach, it’s August, you’re hot, school is not in session, and then, BAM. High Holy Days. I’m not ready!!!
Since moving to Abu Dhabi, the onus is on me and me alone to educate my children about their Jewish heritage. There’s no JCC or Chabad event to bring them to, no library with Rosh Hashanah stories to check out and read together, no kosher bakery from which to order a round raisin challah, no synagogue services to bring them to and therefore, no shofar to listen to.
Last year, NYUAD did have a lovely Rosh Hashanah service and I wrote about it here and here is a link to Mark Cohen’s piece on Forward.com. But it seems as though I’m not the only one who was caught off-guard for the holidays this fall, so the closest organized Jewish gathering is in Dubai, and it sounds fantastic, but I am just not up for the schlep.
Because I’m feeling unprepared for this major holiday, I feel like I am failing my children! What I should have done was gathered books from the children’s library here on campus about apples and autumn, and maybe even had a Rosh Hashanah book shipped from Amazon (which takes about three weeks if you’re lucky, so that would have required supreme fore-thought). I should have made New Years cards to send out to friends and family and planned out arts projects for the girls to work on like:
or any of the great May-age appropriate activities that I found on Our Jewish Homeschool Blog. And we should have watched videos and songs on YouTube like Shalom Sesame (the Israeli Sesame Street) and Jumpin’ Jerusalem.
But it’s two days away and we haven’t. Is there still time? Maybe. I mean, there certainly is time to do a craft or two and read a book and watch a video clip, but is there enough time to instill a love of Rosh Hashanah in my children? I know those feelings are nurtured and grow over many years and that one missed opportunity will not make a huge difference, but I don’t want to fall into the habit of celebrating a holiday on that one day and then forgetting about it the rest of the year. That’s not going to make my kids feel Jewish.
Perhaps I should simply invest in a wall calendar next year. Hey, maybe that will be my Jewish New Year’s resolution.