Joyful Jewish

I love to give and receive home-made cards. This year my Rosh Hashanah cards are a variation on papercutting – a traditional craft brought into the modern age thanks to the joy of technology.  Instead of cutting out designs by hand with a craft knife or scissors, I can send them via my computer to a machine (a Silhouette craft cutter) which accurately cuts the paper with a tiny blade, far quicker and more accurately than I could ever hope to do by hand.

After my design was cut out of white paper, I sticky-taped scraps of metallic paper (different colours and textures) behind sections of it (all except the apple outline) then used double sided tape to stick the entire thing on to green card.  The honey drop is actually a gold hologram-like paper which is very sparkly!

I can’t post the silhouette file, but here is a copy of my design you could trace around to make your own, if, like me, you were searching for Jewish designs for a Silhouette cutter.

Here’s to a sweet new year for all of us!

The story of Noah’s Ark is always popular with kids, and we run an annual craft session around it.  Last year we made an ark mobile.  This year we made a 3-D collage.

This is how I made it:
– Fold one rectangular piece of brown cardboard in half lengthwise, then cut the corners to make the curved shape of the ark.  Cut a door and two windows on one side.  Stick to the background piece of paper.
– Cut the top section of the ark from another piece of cardboard or paper (I used black).
– Print out or draw animals. You can find a selection of animals on white background on the Schleich website (they make realistic miniature plastic animals).  Cut them out and glue onto the top and inside of your ark. Alternatively, use animal stickers. Line some up with the door or windows for a nice effect.
– Add Noah, his faithful yet nameless wife, the rainbow and a dove.  I made the dove “flying” on a strip of cardboard bent over and glued on. (see below)

The joy of this design (the folded over ark) is that you can fill the inside with even more animals!

Above: Hatches closed.  Below: letting it all hang out.

Bim and Bom – A Shabbat Tale by Daniel J Swartz, illustrated by Melissa Iwai.

This is our favourite Shabbat story.   Bim and Bom are siblings: Bim (the sister) is a builder and Bom (her brother) is a baker.  Each works hard at their job during the week, and on Friday they do mitzvot, something to help others, before rushing to meet each other and welcome in Shabbat.

At the end of the book are the words and tune for the song “Bim Bom (Shabbat Shalom)” which, perhaps unsurprisingly, is one of our favourite Shabbat songs.

Things I like about this book compared to other shabbat books we’ve seen include: the refreshing lack of gender stereotyping or annoyingly trite rhyme,  the lovely colours of the illustrations, the way Shabbat is given a context in the week and the emphasis on the kindnesses the siblings show to others rather than just the specific rituals of Shabbat.

I think 3+ year olds would enjoy this story.

Shabbat is such a feast for the senses! See the candles, hear/sing the blessings and songs, taste the challah and wine/grape juice, touch the embroidery on a challah cover or the velvet of a kippah, and smell the havdalah spices.

Beautiful scents are such a joy and so easily overlooked in a busy life.  I always take time to stop and smell the (neighbours’) roses! And the lavender, and the frangipanis, and the rosemary, and the golden wattle…

I confess that our family doesn’t really observe havdalah (yet) – apart from smelling our spice box.

These spice bags are easy to put together – place a selection of spices inside a little organza bag (sold in packs for wedding favours) and tie the ribbon to hold it in place.  Before that, you might like to share and compare the scents of your favourite spices.  We used whole cloves, cinnamon scrolls, star anise, cardamom pods and vanilla pod.  (I’m not recommending this as the world’s best combination, but it certainly smells interesting!)

This was very popular with my Shabbat Tot group of 3 to 5 year olds this month, because it needed minimum adult intervention!

1. Glue a small coloured patty pan (cupcake liner) to the centre of a small paper doily.

2. Sticky tape a drinking straw to the back.

3. Decorate with stickers or textas if you’re in the mood.

4. Insert into vases.  To make an easy vase – decorate a small glass bottle with adhesive foam shapes.  I buy apricot nectar in six-packs of 125ml bottles (apricot chicken, mmmmmm) and saved them up over the year.  They are the perfect size to hold 3 paper flowers.

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You can read my version of the 10 Commandments, rewritten for children, here.  We did the same craft activity again this year, but I revised the printout (download it here) so that the numbers are against the text of the commandments rather than next to the names of the hebrew letters. Personally I think it looks a bit better – the kids probably didn’t mind either way.

In other news: dabbing a (wet but not too soggy) teabag onto paper gives better results than wiping it over; and foam cutout stickers (something I only recently discovered) are awesome!

Look what I made!

Exhibit A: not my cup of tea

I’ve been wanting a stuffed toy Torah for a while now, but they are not available locally, postage from overseas is expensive, and frankly I wanted something that looked more like a scroll and less like a multicoloured cartoon alien (see exhibit A).  With Shavuot approaching, I decided to take the plunge and make my own.  Thankfully at least one talented person has been smart enough to design their own toy Torah, and kind enough to put the instructions online.  Thank you Sweet&Crunchy!!

Days are like scrolls; write on them what you will.

Following her tutorial, I didn’t have too much trouble putting my own home-made sewn-and-stuffed toy Torah together.  I used calico (approx 30cm wide x 85cm long) for the scroll, felt for the handles (approx 8.5cm diameter for the circles), a ribbon for the belt, and some leftover fancy fabric (with scalloped edge) for the cover.  I only had to unpick one major blooper, so I’m feeling quite pleased with myself!

My daughter is very happy and already making plans to carry it around shul for Simchat Torah!  I am hoping to make a breastplate, yad and possibly even rimonim, but the technicalities of all that will be revealed in the fullness of time (ie after I figure it out for myself!)

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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