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Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Repentance, is a solemn and special occasion. On this day, Jews recognize that their positive and negative deeds make an impact on the world. Yom Kippur is a day of prayer and repentance. Preschoolers may not yet have a firm grasp on some of these themes. Use these crafts to help stimulate discussion and understanding.
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For a bulletin board or wall decoration, try creating a mitzvah scale. To do this, cut a paper plate in half and glue the two pieces together to make a pocket. Do the same with a second paper plate. These will be the two sides of the scale. Write “mitzvah" (good deed) on one pocket and “aveira" (bad deed) on the other pocket. Staple or tape the pockets to the wall (with the “mitzvah" side lower, of course), and connect them with a horizontal strip of paper. If desired, create a base for the scale out of construction paper and add it as well. As you catch your child doing a good deed on the days leading up to Yom Kippur (but not on Yom Kippur itself, when writing is not done), describe it on a small piece of paper and put the paper into the mitzvah side of the scale. Discuss the importance of doing good deeds with your child, and connect the discussion with Yom Kippur.
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Yom Kippur Machzor
A machzor is the prayerbook used on special holidays. Help your child create her own machzor by folding several pieces of construction paper in half and stapling the fold to create a book. Write “Yom Kippur Machzor" on the front, and encourage your child to draw on each of the pages. You might ask your child to draw a different good deed on each page, or a different symbol of Yom Kippur (scale, shofar, judge, tzedakah box, Jonah’s whale), or anything else she relates to Yom Kippur.
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Recycle a coffee can, bread crumbs can, or any other can with a flexible lid to create a tzedakah box for Yom Kippur. Wrap the sides of the can in construction paper and tape in place. Cut a slit in the top of the can that is large enough for coins to slide through. Then let your child decorate the outside of the tzedakah box with art supplies, as desired. You may want to create small “coins" out of paper so that your child can use the tzedakah box on Yom Kippur as well. (Coins should not be handled on Yom Kippur itself.)
A tzedakah box, or a charity box, is the perfect Yom Kippur preschool craft. You can use it to discuss the importance of charity with your child, as well as the fact that tzedakah is “maavirin es roah hagezairah" – removes a bad decree. By giving to others, we show that our priorities are in the right place, thereby gaining merit.
Keep in mind that these crafts should not be completed on Yom Kippur itself, when creative work is not permitted. Instead, create these Yom Kippur preschool crafts before Yom Kippur, and take advantage of them both before and on Yom Kippur itself to discuss the themes of the day with your child.
- Based on author's personal experience.