One really fun, active and kid-friendly part of the High Holidays is the ceremony of Tashlich. Tashlich is the “casting off” of sins from the previous year and the promise to try harder in the new year. While that might sound a bit heavy for children to grasp, having a conversation with them about what they’re sorry for or what they think they could have done better is something children can often respond to.
It might be helpful for a parent or grownup to start by saying something they are sorry for that the child can relate to. For example: “I’m sorry that I was upset and yelled when everyone’s bedrooms were messy. I’m going to be more patient with you when I ask you to clean your room.” Or, “I know I’m cranky when I wake up early in the morning. I’m going to try to go to sleep earlier so I won’t be cranky in the new year.” Then, ask the child to say something they are sorry for or wish they could do better.
Traditionally, Tashlich takes place in the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah at a body of moving water. The participants will toss items (representative of their sins) into the water, and the water washes away those sins, giving each person a new opportunity to do better in the new year. In the past, people often tossed bread into the water, but in an effort to be more ecologically aware and sensitive to world hunger, many people are moving toward tossing pebbles or items from nature during the ceremony of Tashlich.
For this activity, my hope is that many (or all!) of the supplies are items you already have at home. Some of the supplies can be reused items, such as a grocery bag or fabric from an old shirt. I encourage you to take the time to make the craft with your child and start a conversation about why it’s important to try to better ourselves and our world in the year to come. And what could be a more perfect way to prepare for a sweet new year than with your child?