Learn About Yom Kippur with Shalom Sesame: Saying Sorry
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Together with your children, watch the videos by Shalom Sesame to learn about saying "sorry". Then try some of the discussion ideas and activities below created by Reform Jewish educators to further extend the lessons learned in the videos. If you wish, share your experiences and ideas in the comments sections below!
Discuss: Saying Sorry
Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, gives us an entire day to focus on our behavior toward other people, the world, our inner selves, and God. During this time, we ask God’s forgiveness. We also ask others to forgive us for any wrongs we have committed against them. We say “I’m sorry” and try to find ways to become better people in the New Year.
We pray, both as individuals and as a community, about the past year: Did we do our best? What can we try to do differently in the upcoming year? We promise to try harder to grow, strengthen and improve the quality of our lives and the progress of our world.
Because we are human, we are expected to make mistakes, so we need a structure within which to forgive, be forgiven and try again. This is a beautiful model for parents to recognize and use, for the good of all people.
Talk with your kids about what it means to own up when you make a mistake. Explain that even Jewish texts acknowledge that saying "sorry" (in Hebrew, "slicha") is not easily done.
Make a “Mirror of Reflection”:
- Purchase an inexpensive hand mirror at a craft store.
- Give children various media (sponge pieces, sequins, beads, felt, etc.) with which to decorate the back and frame of the mirror.
- Tell them to look in their mirror when they need to think about themselves and make decisions about how to act.
Share with your children the steps to t'shuvah (repentance) that Maimonides, a 12th-century sage, taught hundreds of years ago:
- Cheshbon HaNefesh (accounting of the soul): When we take an accounting of the soul, we ask ourselves: “What have I done right and what have I done wrong this year?” Share your thoughts with someone or write your reflections in a journal.
- Say you are sorry to those you have hurt or wronged during the past year.
- Make a plan for how you will behave in similar circumstances in the future.
- Through prayer, ask God to forgive you.
After watching the videos below, read with your children. Check out the book The Hardest Word: A Yom Kippur Story, by Jacqueline Jules, and illustrator Katherine Janus Kahn, which is part of the PJ Library collection.
Together with your children, watch these Yom Kippur-appropriate videos:
For more Shalom Sesame videos, activities, and other materials, visit our friends at Shalomsesame.org.