PJ Grandparents: High Holiday Events and Resources

PJ Library Grandparents: Celebrating the Fall Holidays

As you look for ways to share Jewish holidays with your grandchildren, consider these creatively adapted ideas to help your family celebrate safely, meaningfully, and joyfully.

The Jewish High Holy Days begin with Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) on Sunday, September 25th at sundown. For the following week, Jewish families around the world will gather to celebrate these occasions with services, symbolic foods, hearing the shofar and gathering with family and friends. These “Days of Awe” culminate with Yom Kippur (the day of atonement), but then celebrations continue with Sukkot (the feast of booths), Shemini Atzeret (featuring prayers for rain in Israel) and Simchat Torah (“rejoicing in the Torah”).

Jump to the section  you want:

Three children with pumpkins

Tips for Connecting Around Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah 

Being welcoming is about more than just being polite. It’s creating a space in your home and your heart to invite someone in and let each of you be your best selves. Throughout the week of Sukkot (the festival of booths), which begins Sunday night, we can convey the Jewish values of Hachnassat Orchim (welcoming guests) and Shalom Bayit (peace in the home) to children. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Celebrate the Harvest: Invite your family for a harvest-inspired meal using the fruits of the season.
  • Decorate for the Holiday: Create seasonal decorations to hang in a sukkah (the temporary hut built for Sukkot). If neither home has one, you can hang them in a community sukkah, from the ceiling (like we do at our home), or from a tree.
  • Welcome Your In-Laws: When welcoming in-laws to your home at any time, let them know you’re happy for them to be there by stocking a favorite drink or snack. By giving forethought for their comfort, it shows that you care.
  • Help Others Find Sukkat Shalom (Peaceful Shelter): Make a plan for helping refugees together, even if you’re in separate cities. Doing a collection of needed items or raising money to purchase them can go a long way to extending this value beyond the home. Learn more about Federation’s work to help resettle Afghan refugees or the work of HIAS.

Following on the heels of Sukkot are Shemini Atzeret (7th day of assembly) and Simchat Torah (rejoicing in the Torah). Shemini Atzeret comes at the start of the rainy season and is about praying for the rain required for things to grow in Israel. Shemini Atzeret comes at the start of the rainy season and is about praying for the rain required for things to grow. Since many communities are feeling the effects of too much rain after Hurricane Ian, consider how to contrast the need for rain in some areas and the need to help others after the storm. To help communities affected by Hurricane Ian, please visit shalomdc.org.

Simchat Torah is a joyous holiday where we finish the annual reading of the Torah (the five books of the Hebrew Bible) and begin it anew. This happy holiday is a great opportunity to convey a joy in being Jewish. Here are some specific ideas:

  • Join a Simchat Torah Service: Take your grandchildren to a synagogue service in-person or online to watch the reading of the end of the Torah and beginning it anew.
  • Read About the Holiday: Read a book about the holiday, such as When Zaydeh Danced on Eldridge Street.
  • Re-Read a Favorite Book: Read a book and then read it again—a great option is We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems, which (spoiler alert!) ends by asking you to read it again!
  • Share Special Objects: Simchat Torah is one time a year when the Torah scroll is unfurled, making it a special occasion. Are there items you have that you rarely bring out that you can show your grandchildren? Teach them how to be careful around them but do share these pieces of your history or objects you find beautiful with your grandchildren.
girl with grandparents reading a Rosh Hashanah story

Tips for Connecting Around the High Holidays

  • Connect Via Video: Use a video chat option to share the holiday together–getting together before the holiday or during dinner using FaceTime, Zoom, House Party or the app of your choice. You can also use Caribu to share a favorite holiday book!
  • Recipe Swap: Before the holiday, get together virtually to make something together. You can teach how to make a family recipe, and then at another time, your grandchild can pick the recipe to teach you!
  • Mail Some Love: Set up a card exchange to include extended family.  Each person or household would be assigned a different household (think: cousins, siblings, great-aunts/uncles) to mail a New Year’s greeting card. It can be purchased or homemade, electronic or paper. It’s just a great way to create connections and spread joy among the family.
  • Create a Growth Chart: Growth charts usually change how much taller a child has gotten, but you could also create a Family Growth Chart to show how each family member has grown as a person. Track the new skills learned or abilities gained over the past year.

Events to Share As a Family

Military Mitzvah Card Project

PJ Library and The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington are partnering to share a wonderful opportunity with you to send High Holiday cards to Jewish military stationed in Anchorage, Alaska! Learn more and sign up to send a card.



Pick with PJ graphic with apples and owlsPick with PJ

Virginia Location on Sunday, September 11th
Maryland Location POSTPONED TO Sunday, October 2nd
2:00-4:00 PM

Two locations: Stribling Orchard in Markham, VA and Waters Orchard in Germantown, MD

Head to the apple orchard to pick fresh, delicious apples for Rosh Hashanah and Grandparents Day! We’ll celebrate together outside as we pick apples, have professional family photos taken, read stories, and do a mitzvah project (making cards for Jewish military service members and donating apples to the local food bank).

This program is a collaboration of The Jewish Federation, PJ Library, Bender JCC, Pozez JCC of Northern Virginia, Edlavitch DCJCC, and Shaare Torah.

Register for Maryland

Family-Friendly Events Cosponsored by PJ Library in Greater Washington

Grown-up & Me: Guided Chat and Play Series

Thursday, December 1, 2022 | 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Wheelchair Accessible

First Friday Tot Shabbat & Pot luck

Friday, December 2, 2022 | 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Wheelchair Accessible

Gan Shabbat at Agudas Achim

Saturday, December 3, 2022 | 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Wheelchair Accessible

Chanukah Bazaar

Sunday, December 4, 2022 - Sunday, December 11, 2022 | 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Wheelchair Accessible
Photos of Seth Kibel, Music Pilgrim Trio & Daryl Davis.

Boogie-Woogie Klezmer Brunch with The Music Pilgrim Trio & Daryl Davis

Sunday, December 4, 2022 | 10:30 am - 1:00 pm

Wheelchair Accessible
Fall Back into Summer – Ramah Day Camp Open House

Fall Back into Summer – Ramah Day Camp Open House

Sunday, December 4, 2022 | 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Bim Bom Bags: A Year of Crafts and Fun!

Wednesday, December 7, 2022 | 4:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Grown-up & Me: Guided Chat and Play Series

Thursday, December 8, 2022 | 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Wheelchair Accessible