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Day of Days

C. Rosenberg

Yom Kippur, a day of hushed whispers, heartfelt prayers, and awed feeling — if you spend Yom Kippur in shul, that is. What if you don’t?

Sunday, October 02, 2016

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You watch your mother iron your father’s snow-white kittel, but you know you won’t be seeing much of him this Yom Tov; he’ll be spending most of it in shul. Your mother will spend lots of time davening and perhaps, toward the end of the day, some time resting.

Though you’ve learned all about the importance of Yom Kippur, you may feel a bit bereft. Too young to spend all of Yom Kippur in shul, yet old enough to understand that this is indeed the holiest day of the year, you wonder how you can make the day meaningful. You don’t want the day to pass in a mix of playing and noshing; you want to give yourself — and any younger siblings you’ll be spending a lot of time playing with — the gift of a meaningful Yom Kippur.

Here are ten thoughts, ideas, and tips to help you feel the spirit of Erev Yom Kippur and Yom Kippur.

Precious Envelopes

We all want to grow and become better Jews. How can we do that? Where should we start?

The trick is to start with one small step — and to take that one small step. First, we need to choose something to work on. Maybe you’ll choose to thank your mother for supper every day, or offer to prepare your siblings’ snacks for school, or include a classmate who doesn’t have many friends.

Or, it can be your first step in doing teshuvah. Think about things you’ve told yourself are “nothing,” but that you really need to do teshuvah for. How many times does your mother have to remind you to get into pajamas? Does your teacher have to call your name during class because you’re disturbing? Are you ever in a rush to make the school bus and forget to bentsh after breakfast? But how can you make sure that you actually do it, and don’t forget about it as soon as Yom Kippur is over?



Mrs. Devorah Adler, a third-grade teacher who does this with her students, tells us to send ourselves a letter! Take an empty envelope, write your name on the outside, and on a piece of paper, write down the step you’re going to take (which we’ll call your kabbalah), and place it inside the envelope. Once you write something down, it becomes so much more real, and you’ll have an easier time remembering to do it.

Next, seal the envelope so its contents remain private, between you and HaKadosh Baruch Hu! That’s not all! To really make this meaningful, open up your sealed envelope on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, give yourself a mark on how well you did with this kabbalah, and reseal the envelope. Keep doing this each Rosh Chodesh, until you’re getting fantastic marks. At that point, you may decide to take your kabbalah up another level.

Best of all, when you take out your envelope next year, before Yom Kippur, you’ll see you did grow, just because of one small envelope!


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