A young girl blows a shofar outside
(Photo/Courtesy PJ Library)

How to create sweet memories with your kids this Rosh Hashanah

Beyond its spiritual significance, Rosh Hashanah is a time for families to come together, reflect on the past year and set intentions for the one ahead — and, of course, eat a lot of apples and honey. We’ve curated a guide to help you and your family create sweet holiday memories through spiritual, educational and just plain fun activities, from culinary adventures to creative crafts.

Attend a family celebration

There are several holiday-themed family events taking place around the Bay Area the weekend before Rosh Hashanah, which begins at sundown Sept. 15. There’s one in San Francisco, one in the East Bay, one for Russian-speaking families and one for families with babies. While these events are open to everyone, most are geared toward families with elementary-age kids and younger.

Saturday, Sept. 9

Rosh Hashanah family festival (San Francisco) — Holiday celebration with themed crafts, live music, dancing, magic, High Holiday rituals, apples and honey, themed treats, shofar blowing and more. Hosted by JCCSF; partners include Repair the World, The Kitchen, PJ Library, chef Micah Siva, and Jonathan Bayer and the Adar Brass Band. At JCCSF, 3200 California St., S.F. 3-5 p.m. Free, $18 suggested donation, registration required.

Sunday, Sept. 10

“Rosh Hashanah Family Fun Day” (Berkeley) — Holiday celebration for families with kids 7 and under. With music by Melita Silberstein, puppet show, storytime, crafts including shofar-making, and apples and honey. Bring blanket and picnic lunch. Presented by Wilderness Torah, Jewish Baby Network, PJ Library East Bay and Octopretzel. At Big Leaf Picnic Ground, Tilden Park, Berkeley. 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Free-$108, sliding scale, registration required.

Family celebration for Russian-speaking Jews (Los Gatos) — Rosh Hashanah event for Russian-speaking families includes entertainment, crafts, storytelling, shofar blowing, apples and honey, traditional treats, music and dancing. At Addison-Penzak JCC, 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos. 4-6 p.m. $15 advance, $20 door, free for under-2.

“Rosh Hashanah: Birthday of the World” (Palo Alto) — Jewish Baby Network presents a party for kids up to 36 months, parents and siblings. Includes apple snacks, round challah and honey/agave. Bring blanket. At Briones Park, 600 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto. 3:30-5 p.m. Free, $10 suggested donation, registration required.

Pre-holiday fair (Palo Alto) — Family festival with art and crafts, a beekeeper, honey cakes, shofar making, a science workshop for kids 10 and up, New Year’s card making and more. At Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Pre-Jewish New Year Family Funday (San Francisco) — Chabad of the Neighborhood presents festival with themed photo booth, honey cake making, round challah decorating, apple hunt, new year’s card making, Hebrew calligraphy writer and artist and tastings of holiday treats. Cosponsored by Lakeside Village and Avenue Greenlight. At Lakeside Landing, 2504 Ocean Ave., S.F. 2-4 p.m.

Rosh Hashanah Holiday Gathering (San Rafael) — Volunteer opportunity with JFCS Marin to assemble bags of holiday food and write new year’s cards for seniors. At 600 Fifth Ave., San Rafael. 1-3:30 p.m. $36 suggested donation.

Bake some challah

Practice kneading and braiding challah with Chabad of the Delta at a workshop that’s open to the whole family, including men and boys (many challah-bake events are female-only). Learn braiding basics or just brush up on your skills, and the best part? It’s not in your kitchen, so there’s no mess to clean up!

“Family Pre-Rosh Hashanah Challah Bake” (Brentwood) — Social gathering and workshop for families to knead and braid Shabbat challahs. Enjoy a “Taste of Shabbat” spread. At Chabad of the Delta, 400 Guthrie Lane, Brentwood. Thursday, Sept. 7. 6 p.m. $36.

Learn about bees and honey

With no bees, there would be no honey, and with no honey, Rosh Hashanah just wouldn’t be as sweet. The following listings will point you toward opportunities to learn about the pollinating insects, the health benefits of honey, and other aspects of beekeeping and harvesting.

Marshall’s Farm Flying Bee Ranch (Napa County) — Honey from Marshall’s can be found at many local farmers markets, but one can also visit the farm in American Canyon to taste many varieties and see beekeepers in action. Check out the honey house, and see how they extract and bottle the honey, which is raw, unfiltered and certified kosher. Their website suggests bringing a picnic lunch. Free. 159 Lombard Road, American Canyon.

San Francisco Honey and Pollen Company — Hands-on beginner beekeeping classes are offered for those 10 and older. Over three hours, attendees will learn about bees and the basics of backyard beekeeping, including bees’ role in local agriculture, the infrastructure of a working hive, how honey is produced, and how to set up a hive and care for it. They’ll also get to wear a full bee suit. Includes a tasting of the company’s microclimate honeys and pollen. Next classes are Sept. 9 and 23. $150 per person. 1176 Shafter Ave., S.F.

Traveling Bee Show (El Sobrante) — Educational program for kids on bees and the health benefits of honey. With live bees, frames of beeswax and honeycomb. Suitable for ages 6 to 12. At El Sobrante Library, 4191 Appian Way, El Sobrante. Thursday, Sept. 21. 3:30-4:30 p.m. Free.

Go apple picking

We’re lucky to have many wonderful “U-Pick” apple orchards and farms in Northern California. The following places are open for reservations, with many more farms to open throughout September. If you want a more structured event with a group, Chabad of Noe Valley is going apple picking in Ripon. And after you return with your bounty, you can turn your apples into fresh juice at a free community apple press in Sebastopol. Operated by Slow Food Russian River, the press is open on the weekends by reservation.

Pre-Rosh Hashanah Family Apple Picking — Chabad of Noe Valley presents an apple-picking excursion that includes tractor rides and a picnic. At Lucky You Orchards, 21611 Carrolton Road, Ripon (near Modesto). Sunday, Sept. 10. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. $36 per family.

Apple Hill (Placerville) — The Apple Hill Growers Association is a collaboration of more than 50 farms, ranches and growers in the Placerville area. Places such as Denver Dan’s Apple Patch, Harris Family Farm, Smokey Ridge Farm and Pine-O-Mine Ranch offer apple picking as well as hot cider, apple doughnuts and fresh-baked pies. The website has information about each orchard.

Chileno Valley Ranch (Petaluma) — Here they grow more than 20 varieties, including Orin, Pinova, Candy Crisp and Jonagold. Join a nature or farm tour, with birding and nature information available. There’s also honey and free-range eggs, and sometimes you can feed and play with baby animals. 9 a.m-1 p.m. Sundays through October. Reservations for picking required. $10 per car,  $2 per pound of apples. 5105 Chileno Valley Road, Petaluma.

Clearview Orchards (Watsonville) — Here they grow organic Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp and Mutsu apples. Also for sale: local honey, fresh apple juice, apple butter, apple turnovers and apple popsicles. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Reservations for picking are open. $7per car includes one hour of picking; apples cost extra. 646 Trabing Road, Watsonville.

EARTHseed Farm (Sebastopol) — This organic farm is Black-owned and solar-powered, and rooted in AfroIndigenous permaculture principles. Apple varieties include Golden Delicious, Gala and Braeburn, plus there are blackberries available for picking. If it gets hot, there are cooling stations with fans and cold water. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays by appointment through November; make reservations starting four days ahead. Non-refundable $35 entry fee covers up to four people; $7.50 per extra person. Under 3 is free. 3175 Sullivan Road, Sebastopol.

Get crafty

At this point, after braiding your challah, harvesting your honey and picking your apples, why not also make a plate to serve them on?

Color Me Mine — This is a chain of paint-your-own-pottery studios where kids (and adults) can decorate unfinished ceramic bowls, plates and platters. Currently there is a selection of apple-themed items, such as an apple plate (item CCX933). There is also a Star of David plate (item C91390). Prices vary, no reservations needed.

Lea Loeb
Lea Loeb

Lea Loeb is engagement reporter at J. She previously served as editorial assistant.