Each year, Jewish day schools create crafts, build programs and develop new traditions to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Among other fun and educational activities, area schools told the Cleveland Jewish News about various shofar-related and apples and honey undertakings for this year – all to impart lessons about the holidays and traditions.
Fuchs Mizrachi School
This year the hallways of Fuchs Mizrachi School in Beachwood are brimming with excitement over the High Holy Days. Each teacher is busy planning apple and honey projects, decorative hangings for the sukkah and flags for Simchat Torah.
However, this year they added an artistic touch thanks to resident artist Augusto Bordelois. He has taken projects to another level of artistic creativity and works in many mediums, from mosaics to architecture and from music to sculpting.
Students go home proud to present their meaningful projects to their parents. Project-based learning helps students internalize their learning in creative and meaningful ways.
Gross Schechter Day School
Students at Gross Schechter Day School in Pepper Pike prepare for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with their minds, hearts and hands all engaged, so that their learning is multidimensional and personal. For example, teacher Morah Sara Rancman has her first graders study the concept of teshuvah, or repentance, and think about actions they regret. They draw them on coffee filters with a marker and use water to wash those actions away and talk about how our apologies and decisions can help us be better people.
As students grow older, the learning gets more sophisticated. They study Torah, Mishnah and Chasidic texts, and they use pop music to bring an extra element of fun and personal connection. They also make their own shofarot.
Hebrew Academy of Cleveland
At Hebrew Academy of Cleveland in Cleveland Heights, Ohio’s largest Jewish day school, children of all ages are well prepared for Rosh Hashanah. The youngest children learned Rosh Hashanah songs and explored their creativity through art by creating personalized honey dishes and projects. They experienced different types of shofars and heard the various sounds emanating from them.
The academy also partnered with the Living Legacy Foundation, where elementary school children created their own personal shofars which they took home for the family to enjoy.
Academy students created and sent shana tova cards to day schools affected by the hurricanes in Houston and Miami. The junior high school participated in the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s pre-Rosh Hashanah cemetery cleanup. Older divisions studied in depth the history, laws, prayers and rituals of the holiday. Inspiring Yom Iyun and Shabbos Shuva youth lectures feature guest speakers.
Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School
Students at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School in Beachwood are studying and learning the meaning behind the holidays, rituals, songs and prayers, as well as the importance of doing teshuvah, or repentance, from the month of Elul to Yom Kippur.
Each class will participate in the rituals of the High Holy Days, such as eating apples and honey and blowing the shofar. In addition, they will have an all-school tefillah for Yom Kippur.
This year, students also will compete in a “Shofar Idol” competition, where they blow the Shofar to see who can make it sound the best, blow the longest and other effects. Lastly, we will be baking challah as well as honey cake for the holidays.
Yeshiva Derech HaTorah
The goal at Yeshiva Derech HaTorah in Cleveland Heights is to maximize the experience of this extraordinary time of year for each student. While never losing sight of the everyday curriculum, time is allotted each day to teach about the uniqueness of the holy days.
Studying the unique texts of the Rosh Hashanah prayers and being addressed by inspiring guest speakers arouses an appreciation and understanding of the Day of Judgment for the students.
Children in the younger divisions create Rosh Hashanah-related projects and use a more hands-on learning process with developmentally appropriate motor skills. This imbues in students a knowledge of the customs associated with the holiday.