Joyful Jewish

Archive for the ‘Shabbat’ Category

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

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This is part one of the story of two chanukiot (chanukah menorahs).  I really wanted to sew a wall hanging of a chanukiah, so I designed a lovely nine-branched menorah on graph paper and scaled it up.

This is how it started.

As will become apparent later, this design turned out to be the wrong size for my planned wall hanging – but I still liked it.  So I decided to make it into something smaller: a challah cover.  Yes I know they usually have a Shabbat theme, for obvious reasons, but I have plans for a number of festival themed covers so we can change them over as we move through the year.

In my haste to get the project underway, I cut out the menorah from a lovely teal blue/gold fabric which, I discoved later that day, clashed with every other piece of fabric I had intended to cut the candles from.  I was about to throw it out and start again when my husband said “that would look great with red”.

I’m not sure that anyone else has ever used red chanukah candles, but when we lived in the UK a decade ago, nowhere near a Judaica shop and well before it became easy to buy anything and everything over the internet, we used to buy candles that were perfectly sized for our chanukiah from our local Asian food shop.  They were very good quality, and they were red, a symbol of good fortune in their country of origin.  In the end, the whole project had quite an oriental flair to it, with the dramatic use of dark colours – a striking contrast to our existing white challah cover!

This is my first effort at a hand appliqued project.  My stitching was a little variable, but I enjoyed incorporating some beads for the wicks and around the candlelight.  And here is the finished product!

Click for larger picture!

Now, back to the wall hanging…

I can’t claim any credit for this recipe – it came from Kveller and you can find it here.  But it is fantastic. I made it last week and not only did I feel like some sort of kitchen goddess for producing something so awesome, but also everyone who ate it loved it.  I am sure you will get lots of compliments too!

I doubled the recommended amounts of cinnamon and cardamom and it was still quite subtle, so if you like that kind of flavour, don’t be afraid to add a bit more.

B’tei avon!

 

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!)

Here are some little designs we made up with our fuse beads (perler beads, hama beads) and the small square pegboard: two shabbat candles, a kiddush cup and challah, and the words Shabat Shalom.  (I normally spell shabbat with two “b”s but that would not fit on my little pegboard.)

You can download my Shabbat patterns for fuse beads as a pdf file.

My bucket of beads came in most colours – but sadly not brown.  Hence the slightly unappetising looking challah which is pink and orange as a result!  I made my kiddush cup grey to resemble silver, but if I was doing this again I’d use white or yellow because the grey is quite dark.  (Either that or the background needs to be a lighter colour.)

We contemplated using the fused bead squares as drinks coasters for Shabbat, but decided in the end to link them together with beading wire to make a decorative piece to hang up on a hook, or over a doorknob.

This past week, I designed a little Jewish card game/board game for my daughter (aged 4).  In it, you need to match 3 pictures to each of a selection of Jewish holidays.

For example, Shabbat is represented by candles, a kiddush cup and challah; Chanukah has a menorah, dreidel and latkes; Pesach has a seder plate, the plagues and matzah; and Yom Ha’atzmaut has an Israeli flag, a map of Israel and some Israeli dancers.

I found this game to be a fun way to review a lot of the festivals, identify some key symbols and talk about what we do, what we eat and so forth.  Please feel free to use it yourself.  The instructions are included on the pdf.  I suggested putting the pieces into boxes or bags during the game, but I’ve thought of another way to do it (especially for older children) – put all the pieces face down in the middle, and turn over two at a time as you would if playing Memory.  If either matches your card, move them to your card.  If not, turn face down again and let the next person take their turn.

Jewish calendar game for website


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!