Jewish Activity Guide for Autumn

Find fun activity ideas for your Jewish residents for the upcoming Jewish holidays, including Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Chanukah.

Fall Jewish holidays:

Holiday Dates Description
Rosh Hashanah Thursday, September 21 - Friday, September 22 The Jewish New Year
Yom Kippur Saturday, September 30 The Day of Atonement
Sukkot Thursday, October 5 - Wednesday, October 11 The Feast of Tabernacles
Sh'mini Atzeret Thursday, October 12 Eighth Day of Assembly
Simchat Torah Friday, October 13 Day of Celebrating the Torah
Chanukah Wednesday, December 13 - Wednesday, December 20 Festival of Lights

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. Customs of Rosh Hashanah include the lighting of candles, the sounding of a Shofar (ram's horn), and the eating of sweet treats like apples and honey. This year Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on Wednesday, September 20 and lasts until sundown on Friday, September 22.

Activity Ideas
  1. Go apple picking.
  2. Create New Year's Cards that residents can share with families.
  3. Contact your local synagogue & have them come in to blow a Shofar (ram's horn).
  4. Live-stream Rosh Hashanah services from a synagogue.

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Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is one of the holiest days of the Jewish year. Known as the "Day of Atonement," the customs of Yom Kippur include fasting and prayer. This year Yom Kippur begins at sundown on Friday, September 29 and lasts until sundown on Saturday, September 30.

Activity Ideas
  1. Just like at Rosh Hashanah, you can live-stream services for residents.
  2. Prior to Yom Kippur, help residents make a "Memory Book" full of old photos and other memories. On Yom Kippur, residents can share some of their memories with each other.
  3. Read residents the story of Jonah and the Whale, which is traditionally read on Yom Kippur.

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Sukkot, also referred to as the "Feast of Tabernacles," is an eight-day holiday in which observers eat their meals during the week in a sukkah, to represent the huts in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of wandering in the desert after escaping from slavery in Egypt. This year Sukkot begins at sundown on Wednesday, October 4 and lasts until sundown on Wednesday, October 11.

Activity Ideas
  1. Build a miniature Sukkah using graham crackers and icing.
  2. Contact your local synagogue and ask them to come in with a Lulav and Etrog for your residents to see, smell, and say a blessing over.

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Sh'mini Atzeret & Simchat Torah

Immediately following Sukkot are two more observances: Sh'mini Atzeret ("Assembly of the Eighth Day") and Simchat Torah ("Rejoicing in the Torah"). Customs of these observances include singing and dancing with the Torah. This year Sh'mini Atzeret begins at sundown on Wednesday, October 11 lasts until sundown on Thursday, October 12. Simchat Torah begins at sundown on Thursday, October 12 and lasts until sundown on Wednesday, October 13.

Activity Ideas
  1. Use paper and wooden skewers to make mini Torah scrolls.
  2. Make flags that residents can parade around with them. S&S Worldwide has a great flag kit that you can use.

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Chanukah (also spelled Hanukkah) is the Festival of Lights that is an eight-day celebration to commemorate the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Customs of Chanukah include the lighting of the menorah, preparing foods in oil like latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), singing blessings, and playing games. This year Chanukah begins at sundown on Tuesday, December 12 and lasts until sundown on Wednesday, December 20.

Activity Ideas
  1. Make latkes (potato pancakes) or sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts).
  2. Play the Dreidel game (spinning top game) with the grandkids.
  3. Make Chanukah cards to send to family members.
  4. Sing blessings with residents.

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Are you looking for more tactile activities for the men in your facility?

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