As Jews around the world prepare to usher in 5781, many parents among us may be wondering where to turn for services. After all, like so much of life these days, most Rosh Hashanah celebrations are online this year. That’s good if you like safe, socially distanced prayer and/or celebrating holidays in your pajamas — but it’s extremely challenging if you’re hoping to impart some meaning and understanding of Rosh Hashanah to a squirmy toddler.
Recently, a fellow parent in our Kveller Moms Facebook group was seeking recommendations for Rosh Hashanah programs and services that would be engaging for toddlers and preschoolers. So many members of our wonderful community came through with awesome options — and we wanted to share some of them with you.
Drawing on the wisdom of the Kveller Moms, as well as the brain power of our colleagues at MJL, we’ve compiled this list of some very promising online Rosh Hashanah services and events geared toward the littlest ones. (All times are EDT, unless otherwise noted.) Here’s to a happier and healthier 5781!
1. Temple Beth Shalom, Miami
Temple Beth Shalom in Miami, a congregation affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism, has a children’s service at 1 p.m. that’s available to stream at the Temple’s website or their Facebook Live event.
2. Sutton Place Synagogue, NYC
New York City’s Sutton Place Synagogue, a congregation affiliated with the Conservative movement, will be hosting “Tot and Family Services” on Rosh Hashanah morning days one and two, at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., respectively. As advertised, each service will be a 45-minute “unique song-filled experience” with short prayers, fun music, and movement. Sign up here.
3. Congregation Rodeph Sholom, NYC
Congregation Rodeph Sholom, a Reform synagogue, has virtual High Holiday programming for children 5 and under, aptly called “Sholom Sprouts.” On Saturday Sept. 19, they will host a “short and sweet” kids’ service at 9 a.m. That afternoon, at 3 p.m., you can join in for a party celebrating the birthday of the world. Check out the website here to request your free e-ticket.
4. Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation–Emek Shalom, Simsbury, CT
FVJC, a Reform congregation will have a variety of High Holiday programming for members and non-members, including a “virtually interactive family experience” at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19. It’s recommended for kids up to grade 2. Check out the congregation’s offerings here.
5. Kveller’s Family Rosh Hashanah Services
No list would be complete without Kveller’s very own Erev Rosh Hashanah service, led by the lovely and musical Alicia Jo Rabins. Alicia also hosts our weekly, family-friendly, non-denominational virtual kabbalat Shabbat services. If you haven’t joined us yet for one of these, this double-whammy of a holiday — Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah! — is the perfect time to join in the fun! It’s this Friday at 5:30 p.m. Sign up on this Google form.
6. Congregation Kehilat Shalom Tot Service, Belle Mead, NJ
Reconstructionist Congregation Kehilat Shalom will be hosting a Rosh Hashanah tot service, recommended for children ages 2 to 6, at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19. (For older children, there’s a children’s service at 11 a.m.) Guests are welcome and free of charge, but the congregation asks that you register by Sept. 17. Browse the full list of offerings and sign up here.
7. Congregation Temple Israel, St. Louis, MO,
Reform Congregation Temple Israel will have a children’s service and program starting at 9:15 a.m. CDT on the morning of Saturday, September 19th. The program will be available on the Temple’s livestream and Facebook Live. See the offerings here.
8. Congregation Am Shalom, Glencoe, IL
Reform Congregation Am Shalom of the Chicago area will stream a Tot Service at 9 a.m. CDT via Zoom on the morning of Saturday, September 19, along with a family service at 2 p.m. See the full High Holiday schedule for Am Shalom here.
9. Ikar, Los Angeles
Ikar’s non-denominational congregation is opening its High Holiday streaming opportunities to all! Tune in for a family service with Rabbi Ronit Tsadok at 9 a.m. PDT on Saturday, September 19, and check out their other High Holiday opportunities here.
10. Temple Sinai, Reno, NV
Temple Sinai’s Reform congregation has a 30-minute, virtual “Tot Rosh Hashanah” service. The event will feature fun music from Rabbi Sara and a story from a congregational librarian, all starting at 4 p.m. PDT. See the full page to sign up for the Zoom.
If none of these are exactly what you’re looking for, the UJA-Federation NY has put together an entire page of High Holiday services and resources including Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and other denominational services.
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