Throughout the year, our preschool combines Jewish culture, traditional holidays and (good deeds) Mitzvot into our everyday curriculum. The children experience the joys of Judaism through music, story telling, art, cooking, drama, dance and family get-togethers. A well-rounded Jewish education.
Below is a list of some of the special Jewish Holidays that are celebrated here at the Preschool.
Although Shabbat lasts from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday, we celebrate Shabbat at preschool every Friday at 9:45am. We celebrate Shabbat to commemorate G-d creating the world in six days and resting on the seventh, so we too rest on the seventh day. Shabbat is a wonderful opportunity for children and families to take some time out from their busy schedules to enjoy one another. We make Friday a special day at the Preschool. Teachers refrain from messy art so children can come to school dressed in nicer clothes, if they choose. Each week we choose a Shabbat Imma and Abba (hostess and host) from each classroom. We encourage families and relatives to join our Shabbat party when their child is host. Our parties last approximately 30 minutes and include music, songs and dance, and blessings over traditional Shabbat foods.
We also host a Family Shabbat and Birthday Celebration Service (insert link) the first Friday of every month beginning at 6PM. Please join us to welcome the Shabbat with songs, stories and a live puppet show. A light Kiddush buffet is served following the program. There will also be a special Birthday Celebration for all the children who will be celebrating their birthdays in the coming month!
The Jewish New Year, or Rosh Hashanah, celebrates the birth of the world. This year it falls in October. The children enjoy dipping apples in honey, symbolizing the hope for a sweet year.
The blowing of the Shofar (ram’s horn), is an exciting experience for the preschoolers and signifies the calling to do good deeds. The children can actually make their own Shofars with the Traveling Shofar Factory.
We offer a Rosh Hashanah Family Service. This is a wonderful time for you and your family to come together and enjoy Rosh Hashanah. It also gives your child an opportunity to apply what he or she has learned here at school.
This is the most solemn and holy day of the year, the Day of Atonement. At this time 10 days after Rosh Hashanah, we reflect on the deeds of the past year and discuss the nice things we can do for others during the coming year.
We offer a Yom Kippur Family Service. This is a wonderful time for you and your family to come together to enjoy this special holy day.
The holiday of Sukkot recalls the journey of the Jews from Egypt to the Promised Land when they lived in tents and booths, or Sukkot. The harvest season is symbolized by the Lulav, Palm Branch, and Etrog, a citrus fruit. During this week we build a Sukkah and decorate it with fruits and greenery and enjoy snacks and lunch in it with our friends.
In honor of Sukkot, the Jewish Community Center hosts a fabulous Community Sukkot Party with Arts and Crafts, Face Painting, a yummy BBQ and other wonderful family activities!
This holiday falls on the day immediately after the end of Sukkot. Throughout the year, the Torah is read aloud in the synagogue. On Simchat Torah, we celebrate the reading of the last portion of the Torah. We then immediately begin again, symbolizing, that the reading of the Torah has no beginning and no end. Children are called to read the Torah alongside the adults and we all join together in a parade of flags around the school.
At the center we celebrate Simchat Torah by having a beautiful ceremony where the Rabbi calls the children up to the Torah and blesses them under a Tallit.
The Festival of Lights, or Chanukah, celebrates the victory of Judah Maccabee over the Syrians. For eight days each year, the Chanukiah is lit to remind us of the small jar of oil that was found enabling us to light the Menorah in the Temple in Jerusalem.
It was also a celebration of the rededication of the Temple, after its near destruction. You can expect handmade gifts from your children.
For this wonderful holiday, the Growing Garden always has a grand Chanukah celebration where each class performs for the parents! This presentation is followed by a Chanukah party in each classroom!
During this wonderful season, the children enjoy celebrating Chanukah by attending parties throughout the week. The Jewish Community Center also hosts “Chanukah on Ice” ice skating at the Toyota Sports Center (formerly Health South) and a “Menorah Lighting” at the Manhattan Village Mall.
Tu B’Shvat, or Israel Arbor Day, is a day dedicated to celebrating the New Year of the Trees and our belief in the future of the world. As Jews, we have a kinship with trees, especially fruit trees; they are a symbol of life, a symbol of the Jewish People. Our children do plenty of planting during this time.
In honor of Tu B’Shvat, our school has a tree planting ceremony in our very own “Growing Garden”. Family and friends are invited to come and enjoy this special day.
Purim is the joyest of holidays, commemorating how Queen Esther and her Uncle Mordechai saved the Jews of Persia from a plot by wicked Haman to destroy them. On this day we “boo” Haman, spin groggers, and eat filled triangular pastries called Hamantaschen. We have a big Purim Party where the children are encouraged to dress up as their favorite Purim character. We also make plenty of fun-filled Hamantaschen.
Purim is an especially fun time here at school and at the Jewish Community Center. Every year, the Jewish Community Center hosts a fabulous “Purim Bash” on Purim Eve with plenty of entertainment, food, music, and dancing!
This exciting holiday commemorates the ordeals of slavery in Egypt and the 40 years spent in the desert on the way to Israel. The holiday is called Passover to recall how G-d passed over the Jewish households during the Plague of the first-born sons. We have a traditional Seder in which we eat Matzah to remind us of how the Jews hastily departed from Egypt, not allowing time for the dough to rise thus making unleavened bread, Matzah. We also sing songs, tell stories of the miracles that our forefathers experienced leaving Egypt, and give thanks to G-d for all he has done for them and for us.
We eat symbolic foods that encourage our children to ask questions and to be involved in the Seder experience. We use a Haggadah (Passover book) to guide us through the Seder, and our children each make their own beautiful Haggadah. The children also prepare the four questions to ask at the Seder table.
In honor of Passover, we invite you and your family to join us for an enchanting Passover Seder here at the Jewish Community Center. You will enjoy an in-depth Hebrew/English Passover family experience, with plenty of translation and an abundance of explanation including a delicious four-course meal, with all the trimmings.
You can also partake in our “Kids Seder” catered especially for children. It is an abbreviated version of the Seder that both children and adults will enjoy. We start the Passover Seder earlier to fit in with “bedtime”. We offer lots of interactive puppets, games and stories to make the Passover experience come alive. Of course the Seder includes a delicious meal with all the trimmings.
Lag B’Omer is the anniversary of the passing of one of the greatest leaders of the Jewish People, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. He founded the Kabbalistic Movement. Every year on this day we celebrate his life. It is widely celebrated in Israel, where thousands of people go down to Meron, the city where Rabbi Shimon is buried.
They have picnics, bonfires, and parades with much singing and dancing. In school we celebrate Lag B’Omer with a family picnic, kite making and other outdoor activities.
Seven weeks after Passover we celebrate Shavuot, which means weeks. We celebrate receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. Traditionally we eat dairy foods such as blintzes and cheesecake, which the children make at school, along with their very own Torahs.
We love to celebrate Shavuot at the Center by having a traditional Shavuot ceremony where we read the 10 Commandments, decorate Mount Sinai and enjoy an exciting puppet show. We follow this fun-filled service by having a Grand Ice Cream Party!
Parent Holiday Workshops
Do you ever feel like your child knows more about the Jewish Holidays than you do? Well here’s your chance to “be in the know”. Before each holiday, we will offer a wonderful holiday workshop. During this workshop, you will enjoy meeting fellow parents and learn about each holiday and its traditions. You will also have a great time discussing everything from holiday home decorating to cooking delicious recipes. This will surely impress your child and it will leave him or her in awe as to your knowledge of each wonderful holiday.