An Atonement Prayer For The Littlest Kids – Kveller
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Yom Kippur

An Atonement Prayer For The Littlest Kids

Yom Kippur is about communal repentance.

So, even if I personally haven’t been an idolator in the literal or even metaphorical sense, I include idol-worship in my confession of sins. We all stand together as a community and say collectively that we have missed the mark. So, if idolatry is your vice, I’ve got your back.

As a parent, I have no problem listing all of the ways that I have messed up (and quite frankly other members of my community…I’ll add judging others to my personal list of sins, as always). I know that I’m impatient, that I’m inconsistent, and that I’m prideful to name just a few of the top favorite ways to not be the best parent that I can be.

But what about children? Specifically, young children.

I do not believe that young children are developmentally capable of being cruel, or can intentionally use their behavior to harm another. Sure, they can be willful, or as I like to say, “Highly motivated to get their own needs met.”

I would hope that I can spend some time in the adult service, standing in solemn reflection with my peers. However, I usually end up in the children’s service and I know for sure none of those kids under the age of 6 have been xenophobic.

So here’s a kid-friendly interpretation of the Ashamnu, the traditional acrostic prayer of confession that is part of the Viddui which is recited multiple times throughout the Yom Kippur liturgy.

This one is for the toddlers, preschoolers, and all of the young children we adore. But mostly, it’s for us, because even in the most solemn time of year, laughing is important.

Here it is:

Asked “are we there yet?” when we were told the timing five minutes ago.

Bit people, even those “love bites.”

Called people names.

Dropped things on the floor, instead of putting them where they belong.

Expected to get our way immediately.

Fought with our classmates or siblings.

Grabbed, without asking first.

Hit, instead of using our words.

Interrupted when we can wait patiently or say “excuse me.”

Jumped on furniture when it’s against the rules or not safe.

Kicked people.

Laughed when someone was sad.

Made a mess and refused to help clean it up.

Said “No!” just for the sake of saying “no!”

Opened something without permission.

Did not say Please when asking for something.

Was not Quiet when someone was talking or sleeping or on the phone.

Ran inside a building or ran into a driveway without looking.

Didn’t say “Sorry” when we hurt someone.

Took something without asking permission.

Left our Underwear on the floor instead of putting it where it belongs.

Visited someone’s house, but did not act like a good guest.

Wrote on something that we’re not supposed to write on: walls, books, floor, furniture.

Was eXhausted, but resisted bedtime.

Said “Yuck” to the Zucchini without trying it first.

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