How To Teach Your Class About Rosh Hashanah

Written by Dan

Are you looking for an effective way to introduce your class to the rich traditions and cultural significance of Rosh Hashanah? As educators, we play a pivotal role in broadening our students’ horizons and fostering an understanding of diverse cultures.

Rosh Hashanah, often referred to as the Jewish New Year, is one such occasion that offers a wealth of learning opportunities.

This guide will provide a structured, inclusive, and engaging approach to teaching your class about Rosh Hashanah .

Whether your students are familiar with this celebration or have heard about it for the first time, we aim to equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to create an enlightening experience.

We’ll explore the history, traditions, and significance of this holiday, providing tangible examples and interactive activities along the way.

Are you ready to embark on this educational journey and bring the spirit of Rosh Hashanah into your classroom? Let’s dive in!

History and Cultural Significance

Have you ever wondered about the roots of this ancient Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah?

To truly appreciate and teach about Rosh Hashanah, it’s essential to understand its historical context and cultural significance within the Jewish community.

The history of Rosh Hashanah is deeply rooted in the Jewish tradition. It marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year, according to the Hebrew calendar.

But did you know it’s not just a celebration of a new year? It’s also considered the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, according to Jewish belief.

This aspect adds a profound spiritual depth to the holiday, making it a time for introspection and self-evaluation for the Jewish community.

Now, let’s explore its cultural significance. Why is Rosh Hashanah so meaningful to the Jewish community? Well, it’s one of the holiest days in Judaism.

It commences the “Ten Days of Repentance,” culminating in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It’s a time when individuals reflect on their actions over the past year, seek forgiveness for any wrongs done, and make resolutions for the coming year.

Understanding these aspects – the historical backdrop and the cultural importance of Rosh Hashanah – is crucial.

Not only does it provide context to the customs and traditions we’ll explore later, but it also underscores the deep respect and reverence this holiday holds within the Jewish community. So, are you ready to dive deeper into the rich tapestry of Rosh Hashanah?

Traditions and Customs

As we delve deeper into the heart of Rosh Hashanah, it’s time to unfold the vibrant traditions and customs that lend this holiday its unique charm.

These customs not only add color to the celebrations but also carry profound symbolic meanings that resonate deeply with the Jewish community.

One of the most recognizable customs is the blowing of the shofar, a ram’s horn, during the synagogue services.

But what does this signify? The sound of the shofar is a call to repentance, a spiritual alarm clock of sorts that awakens the listeners to reflect on their actions and strive for a better self in the coming year.

Another significant tradition is the eating of apples dipped in honey. This sweet ritual is more than just a culinary delight; it symbolizes the wish for a sweet and prosperous new year.

Similarly, round challah bread, often studded with raisins, is consumed to symbolise the cyclical nature of the year and the continuity of life.

Tashlich is another custom you might find intriguing. It involves casting pieces of bread into a body of flowing water, symbolizing the casting away of sins. It’s a physical manifestation of the introspection and atonement that lie at the heart of Rosh Hashanah.

These are just a few key traditions associated with Rosh Hashanah. Each carries a symbolic meaning, adding layers of depth to this holiday.

Understanding these customs enriches our overall understanding of Rosh Hashanah and highlights the thoughtfulness and introspection that define this time of year within the Jewish community.

Ready to discover how to bring these traditions alive in your classroom? Let’s proceed!


Effective Strategies for Teaching Rosh Hashanah

Teaching about cultural diversity can be a rewarding journey, especially when introducing students to vibrant traditions like Rosh Hashanah. But how do we ensure that this journey is both engaging and enlightening?

Let’s explore some effective methods to bring the essence of Rosh Hashanah alive in a classroom setting.

The first step towards making learning enjoyable is to make it interactive. When teaching about Rosh Hashanah, consider incorporating hands-on activities that echo the holiday’s traditions.

For instance, a craft project could involve making a model shofar, or a cooking exercise could introduce them to the tradition of eating apples dipped in honey. Not only will this make learning fun, but it will also provide a tangible connection to the customs being taught.

Storytelling is another powerful tool in your teaching arsenal. Narrating stories about the origins of Rosh Hashanah or explaining its significance through parables can help students grasp abstract concepts in a relatable way.

Also, don’t hesitate to use multimedia resources like videos and slideshows to enrich the learning experience.

Now, students might have questions or misconceptions about Rosh Hashanah. How do we address these? The key lies in fostering an open, respectful dialogue.

Please encourage students to voice their thoughts, questions, or concerns and address them with patience and understanding. Sometimes, inviting a guest speaker from the Jewish community can provide firsthand insights and clarify any misunderstandings.

Resources for Teaching about Rosh Hashanah

In your endeavour to teach about Rosh Hashanah, a wealth of resources awaits to enrich your classroom instruction.

From books and videos to online resources, let’s explore some recommendations that can make your lessons more engaging and comprehensive.

Books are a fantastic way to introduce the concepts and traditions of Rosh Hashanah in an accessible manner. Titles like New Year at the Pier and Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride offer charming narratives that can capture the imagination of young minds.

As for videos, resources like Rosh Hashanah: The Basics are excellent for providing a visual and auditory learning experience. Numerous online resources provide detailed explanations, activity ideas, and more.

Are you considering guest speakers or field trips? Reach out to local synagogues or Jewish community centres. Many are often willing to provide speakers or host educational visits.


As we conclude this guide, it’s essential to reflect on why teaching about Rosh Hashanah and other diverse traditions matters. It’s not just about imparting knowledge; it’s about cultivating empathy, understanding, and respect for cultural diversity among students.

Encourage yourself as a teacher to continually broaden your students’ cultural horizons. Each new tradition or holiday you explore together is an opportunity for learning and growth, both for your students and for you.

Teaching about Rosh Hashanah can be an enriching experience filled with moments of discovery and connection.

Remember, each question asked, each tradition explored, and each story told brings us one step closer to a more understanding and inclusive world. Here’s to many more such enlightening journeys!


Q1: How can I teach Rosh Hashanah effectively?

Teaching Rosh Hashanah effectively involves a mix of interactive activities, storytelling, and open dialogue. Use hands-on activities like crafting a model shofar or baking challah bread to make learning tangible and fun. Utilize stories to explain the origins and significance of Rosh Hashanah, and encourage an open dialogue to address any questions or misconceptions.

Q2: How do you explain Rosh Hashanah to kids?

Children often relate best to stories and concrete examples. Explain Rosh Hashanah as a special time when people reflect on their actions over the past year, apologize for any mistakes, and make plans to be better in the coming year. Use simple analogies, like comparing the sounding of the shofar to an alarm clock that wakes us up and makes us pay attention.

Q3: What are three facts about Rosh Hashanah?

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and it marks the beginning of the High Holy Days.
It is a time of self-reflection and repentance, where people think about their actions over the past year and seek forgiveness for any wrongs they may have committed.
Traditional customs of Rosh Hashanah include sounding the shofar, eating apples dipped in honey for a sweet new year, and casting off sins by throwing bread crumbs into flowing water (Tashlich).

Q4: How can I make learning about Rosh Hashanah fun?

Incorporate engaging activities related to Rosh Hashanah’s traditions. For instance, organize a mock ‘Tashlich’ where children write down things they wish to improve on bits of paper and throw them into a bowl of water. Or, conduct a cooking class where they can bake their own challah bread or prepare apples and honey.

Q5: What resources are available for teaching about Rosh Hashanah?

There are numerous books, videos, and online resources available to supplement your teaching. Consider books like ‘New Year at the Pier’ or ‘Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride’, and videos like ‘Rosh Hashanah: The Basics’. Online platforms like My Jewish Learning offer a wealth of information and activity ideas.

Q6: How can I address misconceptions about Rosh Hashanah?

Encourage an open dialogue in your classroom. Let students voice their questions or concerns, and address them with patience and understanding. Inviting a guest speaker from the Jewish community can also provide firsthand insights and correct any misunderstandings.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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