Enduring Understandings:

You will understand that...

  • Jews build community through holiday observance and ritual celebrations.

  • Jewish life is best lived in community.

  • The Jewish holidays teach us to appreciate the many cycles of renewal and rebirth.

Essential Questions:

What do you think?

  • What are some of the important lessons from these Jewish holidays?

  • How does the idea that Jews everywhere celebrate these same holidays connect me to the Jewish community?

I can explain the meaning and significance of the holiday symbols and ritual items

Let's dig even deeper. By now you know all of these holiday symbols and how to use them. You also know the blessings that go along with them. But why are they important? What is their significance to us today? 

We're going to focus on two ritual items - the שׁוֹפָר and the סֻכָּה.



The various notes of the שׁוֹפָר that are blown are:


-תְּקִיעָה‎ — one long blast


-שְׁבָרִים‎ — three broken sounds


-תְּרוּעָה‎ ‑ nine staccato notes

Click above to listen to each note. What do you hear? What do the sounds make you think of?

The תְּקִיעָה‎, we are taught, is a sound of triumph and joy, while the שְׁבָרִים‎ and תְּרוּעָה‎ are sounds of pain and suffering.

The final תְּקִיעָה‎ is longer (it is called תְּקִיעָה גְּדוֹלָה, a “great blast”).

Listen to the תְּקִיעָה גְּדוֹלָה. What does the long תְּקִיעָה‎ make you think of? What do you feel when you hear it?

There are lots of different things the שׁוֹפָר might make you think of. Here's a list of ten things the שׁוֹפָר symbolizes. Which of these are meaningful to you? What would you add to the list?


According to rabbinic tradition, these tent-like structures represent the huts in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of wandering in the desert after escaping from slavery in Egypt. In the Torah it says:

On the fifteenth day of the seventh month (Tishrei) when you gather into your silos the year's produce, you shall celebrate the holiday of ADONAI for seven days.... You shall live in Sukkot for seven days... in order that the generations to come shall know that I provided Sukkot for the Children of Israel when I took them out of Egypt. (Vayikra 23:39-43)




According to the Rabbi Eliezer the words, "I provided Sukkot for the Children of Israel" don't mean literal sukkot (huts) but instead mean God protected us with clouds of God's Glory. Tradition teaches that a “cloud of glory” accompanied the Jewish people in the desert and provided comfort and cover through their treacherous trek. 

What do you think? Did God give us actual "sukkot" or was there a Cloud of Glory protecting us?

Create an infomercial about one of the symbols of the Yamim Nora'im. Imagine you are trying to sell this symbol. You'll need to talk all about its function, when it is used, how it is used and why it is valuable.

I can describe the big ideas of each holiday and can draw connections to my life

There's a famous story about a great rabbi who lived about 2000 years ago named Hillel. He is challenged to teach the entire תּוֹרָה while standing on one foot. Since it's hard to balance on one foot for a long time Hillel had to sum up the most important lessons of the תּוֹרָה really quickly. In other words, he had to figure out what the BIG Ideas of the תּוֹרָה were. 


We're giving you the same challenge - but not for the whole תּוֹרָה, just for the יָמִים נוֹרָאִים. Using all you've learned about these holy days - what would you say are the BIG ideas of רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה, יוֹם כִּפּוּר and סֻכּוֹת?

Once you've got some BIG ideas think about what they have to do with your life. 

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I can recognize patterns amongst the holidays of the Jewish calendar and express the holidays' relationships to one another

Jewish חַגִּים are important and meaningful on their own but they are even more special when we see each Jewish חַג as part of a larger whole. Use the interactive Jewish calendar below to figure out what some of the connections are between different Jewish חַגִּים.

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Click above to visit our interactive Jewish Holiday calendar

I can use appropriate holiday vocabulary in proper context and demonstrate comprehension of their meanings

You've learned a whole bunch of Hebrew words for these חַגִּים. You know the names of the חַגִּים in Hebrew, the names of the symbols and the holiday greetings. When you speak about these חַגִּים with your family and friends, can you use all of these Hebrew words? Here are some of the Hebrew words you know related to the יָמִים נוֹרָאִים:

Holiday Names

יָמִים נוֹרָאִים - High Holy Days
רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה - Rosh Hashanah
יוֹם תְּרוּעָה - Yom T'ruah
יוֹם כִּפּוּר - Yom Kippur

Holiday Greetings

חַג שָׂמֵחַ - Happy Holidays
שָׁנָה טוֹבָה וּמְתוּקָה - A Good and Sweet New Year

גְּמָר טוֹב - May it be a good end of the year

צוֹם קַל - Have an easy fast

גְּמַר חֲתִימָה טוֹבָה - May you be sealed for goodness
מוֹעֲדִים לְשִׂמְחָה...חַגִּים וּזְמַנִּים לְשָׂשׂוֹן - Happy times for festivals

Holiday Symbols

שׁוֹפַר - Shofar
קִיטְל - Kitel
רִמוֹן - Pomegranate
תְּשׁוּבָה - Repentance
תַּפּוּחִים וּדְבַשׁ - Apples and Honey
לוּלָב וְאֶתְרוֹג - Lulav and Etrog
סֻכָּה - Sukkah
תּוֹרָה - Torah

Write a children's book complete with illustrations using the holiday vocabulary above. If you do your best work - we might just read your book in our Pre-School program!

I can express the meaning of each b'racha associated with the holiday symbols and of selected t'fillot

Let's take a closer look at some of the בְּרָכוֹת and תְּפִלּוֹת we say on these חַגִּים. 

On רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה:

אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ חָנֵּֽנוּ וַעֲנֵֽנוּ כִּי אֵין בָּֽנוּ מַעֲשִׂים עֲשֵׂה עִמָּֽנוּ צְדָקָה וָחֶֽסֶד וְהוֹשִׁיעֵֽנוּ

There are so many different ways of imagining God. Some of our תְּפִלּוֹת imagine God as a "Healing God" or a "Loving God. This תְּפִלָּה talks about God as אָבִֽינוּ מַלְכֵּֽנוּ, which means "Our Father, Our King." Why do you think the מַחְזוֹר (High Holy Day prayer book) would imagine God this way on the יָמִים נוֹרָאִים?

For sitting in the סֻכָּה:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוׂתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ לִישֵׁב בַּסֻּכָּה:

According to this בְּרָכָה, there is something special about just sitting in the סֻּכָּה. This seems a bit strange - after all, most מִצְווֹת have us up and moving around. Why do you think it's a מִצְוָה to just sit in the סֻּכָּה? 


For shaking the לוּלָב וְאֶתְרוֹג:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוׂתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת לוּלָב:

This בְּרָכָה isn't actually about "shaking" the לוּלָב וְאֶתְרוֹג. The words at the end, "עַל נְטִילַת לוּלָב" actually mean, "lifting up the לוּלָב". Why do you think we shake the לוּלָב וְאֶתְרוֹג instead of just lifting them up?


When you are sitting in the סֻכָּה or shaking לוּלָב וְאֶתְרוֹג for the first time each year:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְמַן הַזֶּה:

Doing something new or for the first time is always exciting. In this בְּרָכָה we thank God for "keeping us alive and helping us reach this moment"? What does God have to do with us reaching a new moment or doing something for the first time?

Pair up with another student who is still learning these b'rachot and t'fillot and teach them how they are said and what they mean.

I can draw connections between the mitzvot and minhagim of each holiday and the holiday narrative and big ideas

Think about all of the מִצְווֹת and מִנְהָגִים that we do on the יָמִים נוֹרָאִים. How do these rituals tell the story of these holidays? Here's an example:

When we bring together the four parts of the לוּלָב וְאֶתְרוֹג on סֻכּוֹת it's like we're bringing together all the Jews from all over the world to Jerusalem to celebrate. The textures, smells and tastes of the לוּלָב וְאֶתְרוֹג connect us to nature and remind us of all the fruits and vegetables that we harvest each year. Sitting in the סֻכָּה listening to the wind blow and feeling rain drops on my head reminds me how fragile life is. Having to build a סֻכָּה teaches me how important it is to always be building safe spaces for me and my family especially when we are journeying outside of the comfort and safety of our own home.

Think of some of the other symbols and rituals of the יָמִים נוֹרָאִים. Can you make connections between these symbols and rituals and the big ideas of the holidays?

I can express how the holiday values are lived through the ritual practices of the holiday

There are some specific Jewish values that we learn from the יָמִים נוֹרָאִים. Here are two of them: 

הַכְנָסַת אוֹרְחִים


“When the people of Israel leave their homes and enter the sukkah for the sake of God’s name, they merit to welcome the Divine Presence there, and all the seven shepherds descend from Gan Eden and come to the סֻכָּה as their guests.”  (Zohar, Emor 103a).

The Zohar teaches us that the סֻכָּה contains such an intense concentration of spiritual energy that it becomes a paradise on earth, providing a holy space for the gathering of our ancestors. The seven guests (ushpizin), who were traditionally invited into our סֻכּוֹת, were: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David. Today, we also invite into our sukkot seven female leaders of Israel: Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, Rachel, Miriam, Deborah, and Esther.


As we invite these traditional, spiritual guests, we are reminded of the importance of inviting others into our סֻכּוֹת. The מִצְוָה of הַכְנָסַת אוֹרְחִים, the welcoming of guests, extends to all those groups, friends and strangers, whom we invite to share the bounty of our סֻכָּה. Symbolically, we might invite all those who inspire us to strive for holiness; practically, we might invite all those in need to partake of our hospitality.

If you could invite any person, living or dead, into your סֻכָּה - who would it be and why?


n the Jewish tradition, repentance is called תְּשׁוּבָה , a Hebrew word translated as “returning.” One of the Hebrew words for sin is chet, which in Hebrew means “to go astray.” Thus the idea of repentance in Jewish thought is a return to the path of righteousness.

תְּשׁוּבָה can be done at any time, but the יָמִים נוֹרָאִים and יוֹם כִּפּוּר especially are considered an especially important time for it. The process of repentance, as laid out by Maimonides, who lived in the 12th century, includes three stages: confession, regret and a vow not to repeat the misdeed. The person who does real תְּשׁוּבָה, Maimonides says, is the one who finds him or herself with the opportunity to commit the same sin again and doesn't do it. Prayer, charity, and fasting are also said to help one win forgiveness.

There are two categories of sin in Jewish thought:

  1. Sins against God: Ritual infractions, such as breaking the Sabbath or eating non-kosher food.

  2. Sins against other people: Acts such as theft or slander.


According to Jewish tradition, only sins against God can be fixed for through confession, regret and promising not to repeat the action. Sins against other people can be fixed for only once the wrong has been made right — restitution has been paid for a financial crime, for example, and forgiveness received from the victim.

© 2019 by Rabbi David Paskin

JPaL is a program of Temple Sinai of North Dade
Call Us: 305-932-9012   /   rabbi.david@tsnd.org   /  18801 NE 22nd Ave, Miami, FL 33180