Most Christian kids get very little exposure to the Jewish holidays. Passover of course, because of its ties to the Resurrection and our communion service. If you live in a diverse area, your kids have probably been exposed to Hanukkah also. The rest seem to be a jumble of difficult names and cultural practices which have little meaning to the modern child.
Yet our kids can learn so much from these holidays. These holidays were originally designed to point the Jewish people back to God and remind them of everything God had done for them. More importantly, every holiday points to Jesus. We are not bound to celebrate them any longer, but understanding them and their original celebrations will give our children a richer sense of heritage and appreciation for God’s Plan.
It’s easy to research both the traditional celebration the biblical Jews would have had as well as the modern additions to the current holiday. Your family can have a lot of fun researching, trying new foods, celebrating and discussing how the holidays pointed the Jews to God and more importantly Jesus.
Rosh Hashanah is the holiday as I write this post. Originally, it was not a New Year’s celebration, but a time to cry out to God in prayer and praise. The shofar, a horn made from the horn of a ram, was the central theme of the celebration then and now. The shofar signaled the presence of royalty. For the Jewish people, the sounding of the shofar reminded them God was with them. The Fall of Jericho, Gideon and the Temple worship all featured the sounding of the shofar.
For Christians the tie is so strong to this holiday. We praise and cry out to God for the sound we are promised to hear at the Second Coming of Jesus. The shofar will announce the return of our Lord!
Modern traditions have added the eating of certain foods to the celebration of Rosh Hashanah. The first of the fruit of the fall season – in our case – apples dipped in honey. The fruit reflects the biblical practice of giving the first of every crop back to God – in part as thanksgiving for the blessing, but also to show trust that God would give a crop larger than the first fruits to supply His people with their needs. Honey has always been associated with the sweetness God’s Words should have in our lives.
Another modern addition is challah bread. It’s a sweet bread and is also dipped in honey. Modern Jews say a blessing thanking God who provides bread. As Christians, we know Jesus is the Bread of Life. Isn’t it amazing how even as modern celebrations were added to the original holiday, they still point to Jesus?!
So grab some apples and honey and have fun teaching your kids about the Jewish holidays and how they point to God. As the various holidays arise this year, I will try to post a little about each holiday for you to share and experience with your children. Seeing how everything in the Bible ties together in such amazing ways is a faith builder for your kids.