Every year, it seems like the High Holy Days sneak up on us, and before we know it, it’s almost erev Rosh Hashanah. We’re running to the grocery store the night before to buy some extra cinnamon for bubby’s apple cake, or digging through the pile of mail to find the tickets that TOS mailed out a month ago.

Often, the last thing on our mind, as we prepare our homes and ourselves, is preparing our children. And the thing is—the High Holy Days are different from traditional Shabbat services at TOS. Having a quick conversation (or two) with our children can make a huge difference in helping them to navigate the chagim (holidays). As Daniel Tiger’s mom says, “When we do something new, let’s talk about what we’ll do!” And though the High Holy Days aren’t necessarily something new—it has been a whole year, and that’s a long time in the life of a child. (More about Daniel Tiger and the Jewish high holidays here.)

We are helping all children prepare for the holidays at school. At TCEE we invite all families to join is in the playground (or Chapel weather permitting) for a brief introduction to the sounds of the shofar with Rabbi Berkman and Josh on Tuesday, September 19th at 12:45 pm. ARS the children will be learning a few new songs for which we will be singing at the Holiday Youth Service.

So today we’re writing to remind you and your children of a few important expectations for High Holy Days at Temple Ohabei Shalom.

First: Your children are welcome! They are important members of the community in their own right. A crucial component of this, however, is that parents should know at all times where their kids are during services, even teens/preteens! We love that children feel at home at TOS, but we also want to preserve an atmosphere of respect, sanctity, and holiness for all of our congregants. We all know that children need supervision. Unless your children are in childcare (for which you have signed up in advance; note that childcare is available at the door but is significantly less expensive if you RSVP ahead of time), staff cannot be responsible for your children. We need all parents to take responsibility. Here is a quick read about why you should bring your kids to services with you.

Second: At TOS we welcome the sounds and songs of infants, toddlers, and young ones in our services. However, there are times when the community requires quiet and calm in the Sanctuary for prayer and reflection (these times include while someone is chanting Torah and Haftarah, giving a D’var Torah, during silent meditation time or Mourners Kaddish). Please use your best discretion as to other times when it is appropriate to go outside with your children. We can use these opportunities to teach our children to respect prayer and community, and teach our community that our children are our present and future.

We know that every family has a different expectation for their child’s participation in services, so we offer a variety of service options. Our hope is that there are enough choices so that there is something meaningful for everyone. Click here for the full holiday schedule (and you can find details for a few special events at the bottom of this email).

Worship in the Sanctuary

Rabbi Sonia and Rabbi Berkman’s inspirational and eloquent presence is infused with the warmth and drama of the beautiful music of the Holy Days. We invite all of our families to join us for worship in the Sanctuary which also features the majestic sounds of our professional choir led by David Sparr, our amazing Music Director and featuring Maayan Harel, vocal soloist.

All children are invited to join the Candle Procession on Yom Kippur afternoon. Please join us at the end of the N’ilah service and help lead the way onto the Bima for Havdallah (the ceremony that ends Shabbat and Yom Kippur). Your children should meet Shari and the Youth Staff in the Sanctuary foyer when the service in the Sanctuary reaches page 668 (Kaddish).

Family Service

9:15 am on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur morning

Families with children PreK – age 5 will delight in these musical intergenerational services with Rabbi Sonia and Rabbi Berkman.

Youth Service

11:15 am Rosh Hashanah Morning and Yom Kippur Morning

Join Shari Churwin and Josh Cohen, Music Educator, for a fun-filled service led by our ARS students. Everyone can participate and contribute to this interactive, age-appropriate service for our religious school children. Parents and caregivers are welcome to join us (or children can attend on their own). Rabbi Berkman will lead the service on Yom Kippur.

Third, if you have young children, please feel free to bring quiet toys and activities which will keep them occupied during moments of quiet and calm prayer and reflection in the midst of services. By keeping children in services—quietly—we teach our children to respect prayer and community and teach our community that children are our present and our future. Please remind children that in services we talk softly and do not run or jump, in order to show respect to others and to give everyone the opportunity to pray. Some of our favorite quiet toys are wikisticks, pipecleaners, or sticker books. There are even a few apple themed ones that you can Amazon Prime to your home right now. And please use your best discretion as to when it’s time to take your child outside for a break as they get restless.


And finally—take a moment for yourself, too! Sometimes we get so caught up in arranging meals, getting dressed up, and getting to synagogue that it’s hard to remember that these days are supposed to also be for us as parents. Take a deep breath. Take a walk. Find a moment of solitude. Make yourself a Rosh Hashanah-themed drink. Read something inspirational or introspective. Bake Shari’s grandma’s apple cake (my dad says that this recipe makes a cake just like his Mom’s) or get messy with your kids making a round challah.

Remember that the High Holy Days are for all of us, and we look forward to celebrating them together as a holy community (more on Amy’s blog here).

Shana tova—may it be a good year for you!

Amy Deutsch, ARS Director and Shari Churwin, Education Director