What is Yom Kippur?



So, your children are old enough to know that you're observing Yom Kippur -- but they're not quite sure what exactly happens or what the holiday is all about. That's okay. This short walk-through will help explain the major theme of Yom Kippur to kids in a friendly, age-appropriate manner.

When explaining Yom Kippur to young children, it can be helpful to frame the holiday as "I'm Sorry Day." While children may be too young for some of the rituals associated with Yom Kippur, like fasting, kids of all ages understand the weight of "saying sorry" and "doing better."

Child apologizing to mother


Even good friends sometimes hurt each other and Yom Kippur is an opportunity to think about ways to improve and resolve mistakes. When people wrong us, we want them to acknowledge it and apologize, which is why we must do the same.  Teaching kids about forgiveness doesn't have to be somber. You can use story books and role-playing, to practice saying "I'm sorry" and helping develop your child's sense of empathy. Here are two other ways to get in the habit of apologizing sincerely:

Work on the "art of an apology" together. At home, reinforce the four steps of saying "sorry" together:

1. Say "sorry"
2. Ask forgiveness
3. Fix what you did wrong
4. Promise not to do it again

Here are some questions you can use to dig deeper with your kids:

What are ways we can show someone we are sorry?

If you had a chance to return to the time you made a mistake, what might you have done differently so that it would not have been made?

Sometimes we make a mistake by using hurtful words, not listening, or harming another person. In what ways can we use our mouths, ears and hands to help fix a mistake?


Books That Help Children Understand Forgiveness
Four Simple Ways That Kids Can Participate on Yom Kippur
What is Teshuva?