Joyful Jewish

Archive for the ‘Jewish symbols’ Category

We made this collage of Shabbat symbols as a craft activity recently.  It’s very easy to make a good-looking picture with just a few scraps of felt, fabric and metallic or coloured paper.

I wanted to make something that was quite tactile, so cut challah shapes out of felt and a rectangle of sheer material which could be either a table cloth or a challah cover.  I traced the outline of a kiddush cup from a picture on the internet, cut out the shape from metallic paper and stuck on a silver star.  The candles were white rectangles with a gold circle behind to represent the light of the flames, and a simple shape for the candlestick.

I printed “Shabbat Shalom” in English and Hebrew characters onto coloured paper.  Here’s my template as a PDF file: Shabbat Shalom.

Then – all you need is some glue.  And maybe some stickers!

Here is my daughter’s version:

And another little girl’s:


The design for these fabulous mobiles comes from Sara Rivka at Creative Jewish Mom.

She sells an electronic “kit” via her Etsy store which I purchased.  The kit allows you to print off coloured dreidel shapes onto white paper (allowing you to glue glitter all over the back of the dreidels, for example) or print an outline onto coloured paper, which you can then either leave blank or decorate any way you like.  All you need to do then is cut them out and connect them to each other with a little bit of thread.

These are a hit with the whole family, and need hardly any breeze before they spin madly (in fact I took these photos outside and they nearly spun off the line!)

And in case anyone is wondering why I’m still posting about Hanukkah nearly a week after it finished… it’s because Hanukkah is unofficially running at our house until the end of December!

I admired my neighbours’ door wreaths late last year, and decided we needed something cheerful and seasonal as well.

Our front door has a wire mesh security screen which is absolutely perfect for attaching this chanukiah and magen David, which I made out of pipe cleaners.  I just twisted them together and used extra pieces to lash it to the screen.  The unlit candles all go on at the start, and then each evening of Hanukkah we add an extra “flame”.

The chanukiah is made of the fluffier pipe cleaners, the “candles” from striped ones, and the “flames” from gold metallic pipecleaners, as is the magen David. (Can you tell I love these things?)  I made this last year and put it away in my little (but growing) stash of Hanukkah decorations, and both my daughter and husband were so excited to see it back up again this year.   We will leave it up until the end of the year.

It’s November, and everywhere we go the shops are festooned with decorations.  My daughter is three and a half, and mesmerised by anything shiny and glittery, but alas, Hanukkah decorations are not so easy to come by.   I have no plans for a “Hanukkah bush”, but am happy to indulge her interest in sparkly things for the festival of lights and we spent a very pleasant afternoon making these star-shaped ornaments to stick on a window.

– popsticks (6 per star).  I bought coloured ones from a craft store.
– glitter (optional)
– glue or double sided tape

Equipment I used
– pegs (clothespins)
– scissors (to cut the double sided tape)
– blu-tack, to stick the finished product to a window.  Alternatively you could use a ribbon or fishing line or similar to hang them.

How to make your Star of David decorations

1. Decorate your popsticks.   My daughter wanted glitter (and lots of it!) but I didn’t want a big gluey mess, so I put some double sided tape on the sticks, and she put the glitter on that.  Just tap off the excess and you’re done.  Leave the end 1cm of the sticks clear of glitter to make it easier to stick them together.

2. Use pegs to hold three sticks together (this helps you get the right angles).  Stick together using a suitable glue or double sided tape, and leave clamped with the pegs until firmly bonded together.  Repeat with remaining sticks.

3. Place one completed triangle on top of the other – there will probably only be two points of contact – and glue together and clamp again.

4. Blu-tack your Magen David ornament to a window, step back and admire.

You can never own too many chanukiot!  This home-made chanukiah is easily assembled (with help from an adult) from a few simple items.

– egg carton of the size that holds a dozen eggs
– pipecleaners in various colours
– aluminium foil, the sort you use in the kitchen
– orange or yellow cellophane.  I had plenty left over after making the Stained Glass Magen David last month.

Equipment I used
Scissors and something sharp to punch holes in the egg carton (I used a leatherman tool, but a knife or possible the end of a scissor blade would work just as well.)

How to make your chanukiah

1. Cut off the lid and flaps from a 12-egg carton, then trim the base and cut it so that you have two strips of 5 “bumps” and two single “bumps”, as shown below.  These will form the base of your chanukiah (candelabrum).

2.  Before you decorate it,  assemble the chanukiah and punch the holes for the candles.  You may need to cut the egg carton slightly to allow the pieces to overlap neatly.  The two longer pieces overlap in the middle, and the two smaller pieces stack on this central point to form a raised place for the shamash (helper candle).  (Below you will see my own little helper!) Use a sharp pointed tool to put a small hole in the top of each “bump” – one for each day of Chanukah and one for the shamash candle.

3. Decorate your chanukiah.  You could paint it or cover it in tissue paper, for example.  Or, like me, you can  go for the quick and no-mess option of covering it with aluminium foil.  If you’re using 30cm wide foil, two pieces of approximately 20cm width and one of 10cm width will amply cover this egg carton.  It’s OK to cover up the holes you just made, as the alfoil easily tears when you insert your pipe-cleaner candles.

4. Make your candles.  Cut regular length pipe cleaners in half, and select two lengths in different colours.  Football team colours are optional!

Place one over the other, hold them horizontally with both hands, and twist.  If you twist both ends at once (up with one hand, down with the other), you will quickly bind the two pipe cleaners together.  Then bend the twisted pipe cleaners in half, and voila – one fancy striped chanukah candle.   Keep going until you have nine candles.

5.  Add some flames!  Guaranteed to thrill your junior pyromaniac, without requiring a visit from the fire brigade.  Take a square or rectangle (mine were approx 5cm wide but it really doesn’t matter) of flame-coloured cellophane, fold it in half and scrunch it up a bit.   Slot the cellophane in the bend of your pipecleaner candle.

6. Put it all together, and start singing your favourite Chanukah songs!  Bring on the latkes and doughnuts!

Warning: If you leave any spare pipecleaners lying around, be prepared to find them schmoozing with your candles and getting in on the Chanukah action!

This is a very easy recipe for shaped biscuits.  My three year old daughter enjoyed helping punch out the shapes and decorating them almost as much as she enjoyed eating them afterwards!


55g softened butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 cup self-raising flour

(optional) Some of those little metallic balls used for cake decorating.  My packet  says they are called  “cachous”.


Preheat oven to 180C.

Cream butter and sugar, then beat in the egg.
Add the flours (sift if necessary) and mix well.
Tip out the dough onto a flat surface and roll out to about 0.5cm thick.
Cut into shapes – I recently found a set of different sized Magen David star shaped cookie cutters at Spotlight.
Place on a prepared tray (I am a big fan of baking paper rather than greasing) and decorate with a cachou if you are using them.
Bake for about 10 minutes.


This “stained glass” suncatcher features that most famous of Jewish symbols, the Magen David or Star of David.

– card or paper.  I used A3 card, available from art and craft supply shops.
– coloured cellophane.   I bought mine in various places – eg newsagents, supermarkets (try the party supplies section)
– sticky tape

Equipment I used
Pencil, ruler, scissors, stanley knife and cutting mat (optional but make life easier)

How to make your stained glass window Magen David suncatcher

1. Make a template for your design.  I drew a six-pointed star of David, then cut out the six triangle points and a hexagon from the centre.  To fill out my design, I drew an extra four triangles.  You could use any shape, but triangles are easy to draw and cut out.   It’s not strictly necessary to make a template if you only want to make one suncatcher, but if you are going to put in the effort to make a beautiful design, it’s good to be able to replicate it in future without having to start from scratch.

2. Use the template to copy the pattern onto the piece of card or paper you want for your finished product.

3. Cut out the shapes to make a frame.  I found it easiest to use a stanley knife and cutting mat, but if you don’t have these then scissors are fine.   If you’re using the stanley knife to cut straight lines, use a ruler  – but take care not to shave strips off it!  I made multiple frames to use with my Shabbat Tot group.

4. Cut cellophane into pieces.  Mine were approximately 5 or 6cm wide and roughly rectangular, but this could vary depending on the size of the “holes” in your design.

5. Stick pieces of cellophane onto the frame using sticky tape.  For brighter colours, use two thicknesses of the same colour, or overlap differing colours.  (This looks particularly good in larger areas.)

6. Turn over and hold up to the light – ta dah! Your stained glass Magen David suncatcher is complete.  Blu-tack it to a window and admire it.  For a neater finish (if you are displaying it on a window where you’ll regularly see both sides), put a duplicate frame on the back.


Fun crafts and activities for Jewish families with young children

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