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High Holiday Resources

Looking to make your Jewish holiday experience accessible and meaningful for everyone in your family? Browse and download free Jewish Holiday resources for kids with diverse learning needs, prepared by Gateways’ experienced special education teachers.

High Holiday Blessings

Illustrating each word of the blessing with a symbol helps to make this blessing more accessible and understandable for pre-readers and students with disabilities. Students can use these downloadable printouts to follow along with the blessing, learn how to recite the blessing, and learn the blessing’s meaning.

The blessings are written out here in three ways: large print Hebrew text, an English transliteration accompanied by Picture Communication Symbols®, and a simple English translation.

Blessing for Lighting the Candles

picture symbol of a hand lighting a candle

Blessing for Apples and Other Fruit

drawing of a bunch of apples

Blessing for Hearing the Shofar

drawing of a shofar


picture symbol of a kiddush cup


prayer symbol for shehecheyanu, which shows a flower pot with one old wilting flower and one new one, with an arrow pointing to the new flower

Supports for Remote Services

image symbol of a person going to online services

Going to High Holiday Services Online

The high holidays might still look different this year for some families, as many synagogues continue to offer alternative ways of attending services. Gateways has created this social story to help children understand what high holiday services on the computer might look like.

image of high holiday bingo card

High Holiday Services Bingo

Staying engaged during High Holiday services might be even more difficult for children when services are online.  Help them to stay focused with these fun High Holiday bingo cards!  Whenever they hear a word on their boards, they can cross it off or cover it with a pre-cut square of paper.

Build Your Own High Holiday Social Story

There are so many High Holiday topics to explore with your children—too many to fit into just one story! Now you can customize your very own High Holiday social story by printing out only the sections below that are of interest to you and your child and assembling them into a single book. If your child focuses best in short spurts, print out each story individually to make a little library of short High Holiday social stories. You may also want to add in some of our general going-to-temple social stories.

picture symbol for going to temple

We Go to Temple on Rosh Hashanah

This story briefly introduces the holiday of Rosh Hashanah and explains that people go to temple on Rosh Hashanah. This can be used as an introduction to almost any of the Rosh Hashanah Social Stories.

image symbol of two people greeting each other

People Say “Shanah Tovah” on Rosh Hashanah

This story describes how people greet each other at temple and explains the meaning of the Hebrew phrase “Shanah Tovah,” which means “have a good year.” This story is useful for children who want to practice their social skills.

image symbol of person blowing the shofar

Blowing the Shofar

This story explains what the shofar is and describes the different kinds of shofar blasts. This story is helpful for children who are anxious about going to temple because it lets them know what to expect. It might also be an enjoyable read for students who love listening to the shofar.

image symbol for noise

What to Think and Do If the Shofar Sounds Too Loud

Many children with disabilities are sensitive to loud noises. This story reassures children that loud noises are safe. It also gives children useful suggestions about what to do if the noise makes them feel scared or uncomfortable.

picture symbol for going to temple

We Go To Temple on Yom Kippur

This story briefly introduces the holiday of Yom Kippur and explains that people go to temple on Yom Kippur. This can be used as an introduction to almost any of the Yom Kippur Social Stories.

image symbol for fasting

My Parents May Fast on Yom Kippur

This story describes what fasting means and why people fast on Yom Kippur. It also explains that people who fast might be tired and need a chance to rest. This story is helpful for children who are anxious about changes in their family’s routine. It is also helpful for children who are curious about why adult family members aren’t eating breakfast with them.

What “Breaking the Fast” Means

This story explains the meaning of the phrase “breaking the fast.” This story is helpful for children on the autism spectrum who sometimes have trouble understanding figurative language.

High Holiday File Folder Activities

File folder activities are puzzles contained in file folders that are quick and easy to make. They can help children review ideas and familiarize them with Jewish objects. Since file folder activities are inexpensive and relatively easy to make, you can accumulate a large stack of them in no time! The visual nature of file folder activities takes advantage of the visual strengths of children with autism and many other developmental disabilities.

image symbol for apples and honey pattern matching activity

Apple and Honey Pattern Activity

Students complete patterns of apples and jars of honey, helping them learn to associate these tasty snacks with the High Holidays.

photo of a shofar

Shofar Puzzle

In this activity, students put together all of the pieces to complete a picture of a shofar, helping them to become more familiar with this object we use on the High Holidays.

Weighing Our Deeds Activity

In this activity, students sort out the mitzvot and good deeds from the things that we apologize for doing.

photo of a student doing apple pomander activity

High Holiday Crafts

photo of apple print cards

Apple Print Rosh Hashanah Cards

This fun, tactile activity helps children associate Rosh Hashanah with its traditional snack of apples. The downloadable instructions include step-by-step visual directions, as well as suggestions for adaptations to make this craft accessible for children with a wide variety of abilities.

photo of a rosh hashanah message card

Write Your Rosh Hashanah Messages

Writing Rosh Hashanah cards can be an excellent opportunity for children to practice communicating with their friends and family. Children who are pre-readers, non-verbal, or have physical disabilities are empowered to compose a holiday message with the help of the Tobii Dynavox Picture Communication Symbols®. This downloadable guide contains all the necessary materials and step-by-step directions for the activity.

photo of apple pomander activity

Pomanders for Yom Kippur

This sweet-smelling High Holiday craft is also a wonderful fine motor activity! In the past, people made pomanders, also known as clove apples, to bring to synagogue on Yom Kippur, as the fragrance of the apple and cloves helped ease hunger and revive people who were feeling faint. This downloadable activity guide includes a further explanation of the activity, a list of materials, and simple step-by-step directions illustrated with photographs.

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