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Preparing for the High Holidays

Gearing up for the High Holidays can be an overwhelming, time consuming task in an already busy life. With some careful planning and forethought, the whole experience can be more joyful and less stressful.

Those who wait until the last minute may find that the crunch time pressure is too much to bear. While it may seem crazy to start thinking about the holidays several weeks beforehand, this early preparation will allow you to enter the holidays with ease.

Here are some tips from an overly organized, Jewish home:

Menu planning. Some Jewish cooks rely on the same recipes year after year, but if you are like me Ė you like to change it up every year. If you enjoy reading cookbooks, work your menu planning into your summer reading schedule. Scour recipes, decide on guests, and write out your meal plans. Try to incorporate leftovers into the next dayís meals.

Holiday crafts. Getting your children involved in crafts will serve two purposes. It will keep them busy while you are cleaning and cooking, and it will also provide some nice decorations for your holiday table. There are a lot of simple crafts children can do on their own or with a little guidance from you.

Outfit selection. Itís important to go through your closets a few weeks prior to the holidays. My growing boys seem to need longer pants on a weekly basis. Shopping is not something I want to be doing in the final days leading up to Rosh Hashanah. Make sure you have the undershirts, the socks, the belts, and the shoes!

Online resources. The Internet is a great place to squeeze in a little more learning before the holidays arrive and will also help you get a little more time to get things done. Identify games, puzzles, and simple reading to further their holiday knowledge. Youíll be surprised at all the good material out there!

Set aside time for your own learning. With all the preparations before the holidays, it can feel like you have little time for anything else. Itís important, however, to get yourself spiritually ready too! Itís easy to listen to podcasts while you are cleaning, cooking, or driving to and from work.

Give tzedakah. Itís a custom to give tzedakah before each holiday. Do you have an organization that you give to annually? How about involving your children in the decision? Or find an organization that is connected to one of the many themes of Rosh Hashanah.

Review. Donít forget to take a look at your notes from last year. If youíre like me, you always take good notes after the holiday to remind you of what worked and what didnít. The problem is when you forget to look at your notes. Our notes donít do us any good if we donít read them.

As we begin to anticipate the arrival of the High Holidays, energy begins to build in excitement for the renewal, invigoration, and for the holiday meals that are heading our way. Make sure you are well prepared so that you can fully embrace the experience of the High Holidays.

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