A new year can elicit a lot of feelings. Our children are getting older. Our parents and loved ones are getting older. We are still navigating living through a pandemic in our own ways. Fortunately, the rhythms of the Jewish calendar invite us into this season to reflect, renew, and encounter the new.
I want to offer a few opportunities for encountering the new with your children and grandchildren this season:
We are preparing to learn the iconic story of Avraham running to welcome guests in his tent in the heat of the day, while recovering from circumcision. (Talk about a difficult time for guests!) Consider who in your extended family of origin or chosen family might want to join your family in ringing in the new year, whether or not they celebrate Rosh Hashanah themselves. Kids are fantastic hosts and great at welcoming. You could work with your kids to plan a menu, grocery shop, discuss whether indoor or outdoor hosting is right for your family, and even decorate the space for welcoming guests.
Rosh Hashanah commemorates briyat haolam (The Creation of the World), so this holiday offers a great opportunity to get out and enjoy nature. We are lucky enough to have one of the largest systems of urban parks in the country. Friends of the Wissahickon has great information about local trails to access with your family. It’s a great place to enjoy the outdoors and the beauty of the changing seasons. https://fow.org/
We want to wish you all a very sweet new year! And one of the sweetest ways to start off the year is by filling your house with the smell of sweet, baking, deliciousness. Here are a handful of recipes if you are up for getting messy with your (grand)kids as you celebrate Rosh Hashanah together. https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/photos/desserts-to-bake-with-honey Trying new foods and recipes together as a family could be a great way to kick off the new year!
A far less messier yet still delightful option for celebrating is just cuddling up with some good books that could open conversations around Rosh Hashanah. This could be a good way to start a dialogue with your family about many of the ideas and values associated with the new year. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney– Follows the lifelong quest of a traveler, painter, and librarian who makes the world just a little bit more beautiful
- Today is the Birthday of the World by Linda Heller– Shares the story of a variety of animals and people being the best version of themselves and taking the time to reflect on that
- Jackie and Jesse and Joni and Jae by Chris Barash– The story of friends remembering mistakes and making plans to do better
- Are we Still Friends? by Ruth Horowitz– A book about handling misunderstandings and repairing relationships
- New Year at the Pier by April Halprin Wayland– A story of Tashlich and when to choose to make repair or save it for later
Another way to be mindful of the new year is to consciously reflect on the past year. Invite your family to release any mistakes or embarrassing moments from the year (anything that isn’t serving you well) by blowing into a bubble and sending it away! Then, think of something from this year that you want to hold onto. Draw a picture of it to lock it away. Literally lock or store it away and set a reminder for yourself to revisit it with your family at an agreed upon future date.
Looking for a more adult-focused experience of mindfulness? Check out these amazing teachers: https://www.ravariel.com/mindful-high-holidays-guide-2022?ref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ravariel.com%2Fa%2F2147520094%2FL4bzNH7J
Whether you are hiking, hosting, meditating, or finding other ways to connect with your family, we want to wish you sweet a year of connection and growth with your loved ones. Shanah Tovah Umitukah–wishing you a sweet and wonderful new year!