Joyful Jewish

Mitzvah day

November 17 is Mitzvah Day, when congregations work together in an act of tikkun olam, healing the world.   Apparently this initiative has been going for decades in some places, but it only made it to Australia very recently.  This year is the first time our congregation has become involved, and we’re collecting canned food for distribution to a charity organisation.

I am the sort of person who will read an email suggesting “donate some canned food”, think to myself “awesome idea” and then completely forget about it as soon as I get off the computer and start doing something else.  (Maybe people who access the internet via smartphones don’t have this problem?? I wonder.)   So I decided to make some little magnets for people like me to put on their fridge as a reminder – hopefully they will then (a) write “canned food for Mitzvah day” on their shopping list, and (b) remember to shlep it to shul after they buy it.

Magnets are really easy to make.  I printed off multiple copies of the image and text shown above, cut them out then put them in a laminator pocket and ran them through the laminator.  After I cut them out again, I put self adhesive magnet strips on the back.  They are so light and thin they would be easy to post  – something I might suggest we send out with the High Holyday tickets next year.

Interested in Mitzvah Day? The Australian website is here: http://mitzvahday.org.au/

Not in Australia?  More information here: http://www.mitzvahday.org.uk/around-the-world.html

Finished product

After seeing the fabrics I purchased to make my Rosh Hashanah challah cover, my daughter asked for a Rosh Hashanah t-shirt.  This design was very quick and easy to make.

Step 1: Cut a circle or two semi circles of honey-ish fabric using double sided iron-on adhesive. (Anyone can be good at applique with this stuff – it’s fantastic!)  I just drew around a plate to make my circle.  Iron on to a plain t-shirt, and zig-zag stitch around the edge(s).

Step1 Honey

In case you’re wondering, purple has no connection to Rosh Hashanah as far as I am aware, it just happened that we had a plain purple t-shirt in the house and that saved me a trip to the shops. :-)

Step 2: Find a picture of an apple on the internet (or draw your own) and use that to apply a fabric apple in a similar fashion.

Step2 apple

Step 3: add a stem and leaf in the same way.

Step 3 details

That is all there is to it! It’s a really fast project (assuming you have a stash of suitable fabric and some iron-on adhesive!)

End result? One very happy daughter, who has subsequently worn her new t-shirt at every available opportunity!

On the model

If you like this, you might also like to see the t-shirt I made her for Pesach.

Finished challah cover

New Year is just around the corner, and I have been very busy in the lead up this year!

Following on from my earlier Chanukah and family handprint challah covers, I have now made one for Rosh Hashanah.  (I think I’ll be taking a break from challah covers for a while now!)  As Rosh Hashanah challah is round, so so is this cover, and the fabrics depict or represent apples and honey, two traditional sweet foods eaten for the new year.

Fabrics2

Fabrics1

I don’t have much patchwork experience and I wanted something simple (read: foolproof) so I found a very easy looking idea on the internet: a circle made by sewing triangles together.  I made a template out of cardboard, just a triangle with a 30 degree point.  12 “slices” x 30 degrees = 360 degrees aka a full circle. By cutting the point of each triangle off before sewing them together, I didn’t need to worry whether or not the points would meet up neatly.

Construction phase1

As you can see, it is not particularly circular at the edge, but you cut it back later.  (Make sure you cut your fabric larger than you think you’ll need so that it’s not too small when you trim and hem it.)  Alternatively, you might be smart enough to cut the template with the right curve built in – but I was sticking with simple!

Next I appliqued a circle to go in the centre and cover that hole.  I printed off the text for L’Shanah Tovah (literally “for a good year”) using a font called Frank Ruehl and traced around it to put the outline onto double sided iron-on adhesive.  A fair degree of fiddly cutting out and ironing on later, it looked like this:

Construction phase2

I used a bit more iron-on adhesive to stick the circle in the right place. Then it was just a case of stitching around the edges to make sure nothing falls off, EVER, and including a few beads for decorative effect.

Edging detail

Finally, I cut a circle of fabric for the back, trimmed the front to match, sewed the two faces together (you get the general idea…).  Next job, relocating that really good Rosh Hashanah challah recipe I used last year.

I wish you and your loved ones L’Shanah Tovah – may you be inscribed in the book of life for a sweet and blessed year.

Closer view of challah cover

IMG_3288

Some time ago I made a Sukkot guest book, so we could remember who shared our sukkah each year.   It was a hit with my family, so this year we decided to extend the idea and make a Passover guestbook, to record who came to our Seder and all the other things that would blur as years go by.

IMG_3291

I designed the book myself using photobook software, and it has been commercially printed.  On each double page, one side has spaces for the date and location, who came, what we ate and any special things we want to remember from that evening.

IMG_3290

On the other pages,  I have included such things as a list of memorable moments from seders past, the evolution of our bespoke Haggadah,  some alternative questions (with space to add more), a favourite recipe and space for future menu suggestions, a list of things we’ve made especially for Pesach (from placemats to Moses & Pharaoh figurines), and space to list any new traditions we develop or things we want to remember for the following year.

IMG_3289

Next year in Jerusalem!  But more likely back at our place… :-)

Rosh Hashanah in plasticine

My daughter, now aged 6, is really enjoying creating little items out of plasticine.   This is her recent Rosh Hashanah still life, comprising apples, a pot of honey, three round challot, a black shofar and and orange and white Torah.

She had so much fun, she then produced a hamantaschen, a very wonky sukkah with table and chair and a lulav and etrog, among other things!  I was very proud of her efforts and finished products, which were 100% her own work.  My only input was encouragement and supply of the storage container.

Plasticine is really easy for little fingers to work with, comes in a range of colours and stays soft indefinitely.  It’s great!

Rosh Hashanah models and the artist

As my daughter (and our book collection!) continues to grow, I’ve decided to share the love and give some of our books away to friends with younger children.  Before they go, here are my thoughts on them.

Happy Birthday, World – a Rosh Hashanah Celebration by Latifa Berry Kropf, illustrated by Lisa Carlson

Book for Rosh Hashanah

Happy Birthday, World introduces some of the customs of Rosh Hashanah (eating apples dipped in honey, blowing the shofar, giving tzedakah) by comparing them with activities a child would associate with their own birthday (eating cake, tooting party horns, getting presents).  The realistic illustrations show a contemporary boy and girl with their parents.  It’s a board book with simple text, suitable for the youngest of children able to follow along.

- – -

Apples and Honey – A Rosh Hashanah Story by Jonny Zucker, illustrated by Jan Barger Cohen

Apples and Honey

Apples and Honey introduces a more extensive list of customs of Rosh Hashanah, including wearing new clothes, performing tashlich and eating pomegranate on the second evening.  Despite the title, it’s not really what I’d call a story, although it follows a family through a set of scenes. The illustrations are engagingly colourful.  There are a couple of pages of explanatory material (in child-friendly language) at the end of the book, including one on blowing the shofar.  I would suggest suitable for children 2 or 3 years old.

- – -

How the Rosh Hashanah Challah Became Round by Sylvia B. Epstein, illustrated by Hagit Migron

How the Rosh Hashanah Challah became round

Jossi is the son of the local baker, and he is very proud to help his father make bread for the townsfolk.  One day he is proudly carrying freshly plaited “challahs” to the oven when suddenly he trips.  The loaves roll down the stairs, becoming round in the process.  The townsfolk are at first unimpressed by these strangely misshapen challahs, but on the eve of Rosh Hashanah the local rabbi is inspired to find meaning in their shape, and soon everyone is agreeing with him.

This book assumes familiarity with the concepts of challah and Rosh Hashanah, and offers a gently humorous explanation for a question which probably occurs to children each Rosh Hashanah.  The illustrations are very simple cartoons.  It’s a little longer than the previous two books, and would be suitable for children over 3, or who are in that “Mum, why is….???” stage.

Feel the urge to sew something useful and maybe a little bit fancy, but don’t think you have the stamina for a quilt?  Think challah cover!  Big enough to look impressive, small enough to finish in a relatively short space of time.

Hands on challah cover

Our first challah cover was a wedding gift and has already given us 15 years good service, but we felt like a change.  I made a new challah cover for Chanukah last year but I wanted a design which would be suitable for use year-round.   Then an idea coalesced after I read a post on Sweet and Crunchy in which she made a mini-quilt featuring the outlines of her childrens’ hands.

I thought it would be lovely to capture an image of my daughter’s childsize hand next to those of her parents.  Even when she grows up and leaves home, we can still have her with us on Shabbat.   I was also reminded of a custom of our synagogue – when they say the blessing over the challah, everyone reaches out to touch the arm or shoulder of the person next to them, forming branching chains that reach towards the person in the centre who is holding the tray with the challah on it.  If we have visitors who don’t know this custom, someone will usually call out “Everyone’s touching someone who’s touching the challah!”

Appliqued challah cover

So we traced around our hands (my husband and I are right-handed, our daughter is a “lefty”) and transferred the images to fabric in our favourite colours.  I blanket stitched around each hand.  In retrospect it might have been better if the arms went to the edge of the cover rather than looking like disembodied glovesl but I was making the pattern up as I went, and didn’t think of that until later.

bias binding

Then I made some bias binding out of the three fabrics to use as a border, and stitched a gold ribbon into the seams when I put on the backing.

And here we are: everyone’s touching the challah cover that’s touching the challah.

family challah cover

Fun crafts and activities for Jewish families with young children

A resource site for anyone who wants to share the joy of being Jewish with the children in their life.

Enjoy!

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