I’ve always loved the Jewish High Holidays. The blowing of the shofar, the time spent with family, the food (oh! the food!), and the overall sense of starting over with a clean slate. And now, as a parent, I’ve truly come to appreciate the opportunity for reflection and forgiveness that the High Holidays provide. Even with Yom Kippur–a mostly somber affair–we have a chance to own up to our wrongdoings, apologize for them, vow to do our best not to repeat them, and then start anew.
What better parenting tool than that?
Over the past few years we’ve really started to fine-tune our own personal family traditions around the High Holidays. If we’re not visiting family, we will spend the second day of Rosh Hashanah taking a walk through our local woods, ending up at a small brook in order to do tashlich. Tashlich–the symbolic practice of washing away our sins–is a powerful one for both kids and adults alike. My son was around 4 years old the first time he grasped what it was all about. I explained to him that each piece of bread represented a behavior, action, or thought that we wanted to change in the New Year. We toss the bread in the water and it washes the poor thoughts and actions away, giving us space to do better. He would throw in crumbs and say, “No hitting!” or, “No yelling!” As he grew older, his answers became more nuanced and thoughtful. Read the rest of this entry →