Yom Kippur is the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar, marking the end of the High Holy days that begin with Rosh Hashanah each year. Coming in September or October each year, it is the Jewish Day of Atonement, when Jews are to repent their sins, make amends to anyone they may have wronged, and ask for forgiveness from God. The approximately 25 hours from before sunset on the evening of Yom Kippur to after nightfall on Yom Kippur itself is a period of total fast-not only no food, but nothing to drink either. In addition to refraining from food and drink, the observant Jew also refrains from work, sex, washing and bathing, wearing leather shoes, using cosmetics or cologne or deodorant, and other indulgences.
Though Yom Kippur is a holy and solemn occasion, it is not contrary to its spirit for young children to enjoy fun crafts and projects related to the holiday. Here are a few examples of Yom Kippur crafts:
1. Jonah and the Whale Suncatcher
Start by printing this whale template. Trace the whale shape on each of two sheets of blue construction paper, and cut to that shape, including cutting out the hole in the center. Glue clear plastic wrap over the holes. Draw a picture of Jonah on light colored construction paper. Make it so it is a similar size as the holes covered by plastic wrap. Hold the paper up to the light and try to draw as closely as possible the identical picture on the other side. Cut out the picture. Place it so that Jonah can be seen through the clear plastic wrap on one of the whales. Press the two paper whales together with Jonah inside, so that he can be seen through the clear plastic wrap of the other side as well. Glue these two whale sides together so as to hold the picture in position. Tape or hang near a sunny window. Jonah can now be seen inside the whale.
2. Paper Mache Shofar
The shofar is a horn that is blown in the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, made from a ram’s horn.
Roll several paper towels into an oblong shape the length of a shofar. Cover it with tin foil. Bend and shape it to resemble the curved shofar. Coat the foil shofar with paper mache. When it is hardening but not yet totally dry, cut the shofar in half. Remove the foil and paper towels to hollow it out. After the two halves fully dry, glue them back together, adding a little more paper mache to cover the cut. Paint or decorate the shofar.
3. Finger Knit Yarmulke
Make a long chain of slip knots out of yarn. Form a circle by crossing the end of the yard over itself, then pull the long end of the yarn through the circle and tighten the knot to make a link. Keep making link after link like this. Using thread of the same color as the yarn, sew one end of the yarn chain to the center of a plain, simple yarmulke. Coil it around that center, sewing it to the yarmulke every few inches. When it covers the whole yarmulke, cut off the rest of the yarn chain, and sew that end to the yarmulke. You now have a colorful yarn yarmulke, with the original yarmulke as its lining.
4. Yom Kippur Slippers
Take two pieces of cardboard and draw these slipper shapes on them. Or print the shapes and attach them to the cardboard. Cut the cardboard into those shapes, including making holes. Fold over the sides with the holes, and thread with shoelaces. Decorate the slippers with markers, glitter, etc. You now have slippers to wear instead of the forbidden leather shoes.
Crafts like these will enable the youngsters to feel included in the celebration of Yom Kippur.
“Finger Knit Kippah.” Akhlah.
“Yom Kippur Crafts.” Barness Family JCC.
“Yom Kippur Slippers.” Chabad.