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Rosh Hashanah (24 September 2014)

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To celebrate our journey towards healthy bodies, minds and hearts and to think more deeply about our responsibilities to others.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a clipboard, paper, and pen and a calculator, plus piles of ‘stock’, such as printer paper, notepads, boxes of felt pens and so on on a desk.
  • If time permits, arrange to have a few volunteers to assist with the stocktaking.
  • Write out the four questions and answers in the ‘Assembly’, Step 3, out and organize for two children to read them.
  • Choose some typical Jewish music to play as the children leave the assembly or a song from the film Fiddler on the Roof.


  1. Arrange your piles of stock on the desk. Come in holding the clipboard, with some paper, a pen and the calculator.

    Apologize to the children that you are rather busy this morning. You are stocktaking at the beginning of the school year.

    Explain that ‘stocktaking’ involves recording the numbers of all sorts of things that the school needs and uses. Ask the children if they have heard of this term and whether or not any of their parents work in jobs where stocktaking takes place, such as in shops. Stocktaking is like an annual check-up.

    Tell the children that you’ve completed a count of all the furniture, cleaning materials and now you’re on to the stationery. As they can see, it’s a big job.

    If time permits, ask a few children to come up and help count the items for you.

  2. Suggest that taking stock of our lives is also important. Stocktaking in this sense can mean looking at the way we are living. Explain that dentists like to see us regularly to check on our teeth, people over a certain age are encouraged to see their doctor for an annual check-up and gyms and sports centres also offer to check their members’ physical well-being at regular intervals.

  3. Taking stock is also something that is practised in many religions. This is not to see how physically fit people are, but how they are doing on the inside. It’s about considering and reviewing the attitudes of their hearts, their relationships, their faith journey and their hopes and dreams. Most religions have special festivals to do this. Even people of no faith do this to an extent at New Year.

  4. In late September this year, people of the Jewish faith celebrate the festival of Rosh Hashanah.

    They set aside this time to ‘stocktake’ their lives and their behaviour before God. This takes two days. All Jews spend time considering the following big questions.

    The two children read out and answer the following questions.

    Child 1
    Question 1: What’s the most meaningful thing in my life? 
    Well, when I stop and think about that question I would probably say my job, my family, my career.

    Child 2 What about your health, what about your beliefs?

    Child 1 Mm. Question 2: Who in my life means most to me? How often do I let them know this? That’s easy to answer. Of course it’s my wife, my parents, my family. 

    Child 2 But what about the second part of the question? When did you last show your appreciation? By that I don’t just mean buying gifts for their birthdays! 

    Child 1 I suppose I could be a bit more encouraging. After all, my wife makes a lasagne to die for! Now, to the next question. Question 3: What are the most significant things I have achieved in the last year? Things that come to mind immediately are that I got promotion, bought a new car and had a child. (I suppose my wife achieved most of the last one!) Oh, and my team won the golf!

    Child 2 But what about your relationships with your neighbours, your interest and care for those who are needy in the world, the Earth you are supposed to look after?

    Child 1 Question 4: What do I hope to achieve in this next year and in my life generally?
    I think that one will take a bit of thought! I am sure you would have many good ideas! It takes time to think about the big questions of life, but it is very important to ask them.

Time for reflection

The start of a new school year is a good time for this kind of reflection.

Choose one of the questions the children asked and start to think about your response. Ponder this over the next few days. 

Dear God, 
You know that life can be so busy for all of us, especially now that the school term has started again. 
There will be many challenges for us, many deadlines to meet, many targets to achieve.
Help us to make time to think more deeply about these big questions, so that our lives might be pleasing to you.  




Chosen Jewish music 

Publication date: September 2014   (Vol.16 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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