I was teaching a group of children aged 6-9 about Yom Kippur facts and customs recently, and I decided to do it in the form of a group quiz. I printed out my questions and laminated them, then my class took turns pulling a question out of a bag and reading it aloud. That was good because even the ones who were reluctant to venture an answer still contributed to the activity. Nearly half the questions are “True or False?” which the kids seemed to enjoy. My 7 year-old daughters says this is because you have a 50% chance of getting it right! I was not fussed if they already knew the answer or not, I wanted them to think about it and then I helped fill in the gaps in their knowledge.
You are welcome to use these questions yourself. This link should open up a .pdf file: Yom Kippur Quiz
Some questions ask for basic knowledge: “What is the traditional colour to wear on Yom Kippur?” Some test understanding of vocabulary: “True or false? Yom Kippur is called a fast day because it goes really fast.” Other questions are more subtle: “True or false? Yom Kippur is a day for asking other people to forgive us.”
And there are a bunch of other questions as well, involving goats, shoes, chickens, eating, and the festivals on either side of Yom Kippur, among other things. As much fun as you are likely to have learning about this very serious festival!
Be warned: I am not providing the answers! You may need to do a little revision. :-) It also allows for some variations on answers to suit your own practices. Plus you may find the kids come up with more than you expect. In response to a question about goats, I had only planned to talk about scapegoats, but a boy in my class immediately pointed out the obvious connection between goats and the shofar.
May we all be inscribed for a year of learning!
I’ve made a few Bar and Bat Mitzvah cards over the years, but I don’t always remember to scan or photograph them before I give them away.
They often feature this lovely stamp of a tallit (prayer shawl) which I purchased along with the text (which says Bar Mitzvah in Hebrew) online from Zum Gali Gali. I like to use embossing powder and a craft heat gun for a shiny finish. Not so many years ago I would melt embossing powder over a toaster, resulting in burned crumbs and often burned fingers as well. Thankfully those days are behind me. :-)
If you want to make a card like this, it is very simple.
1. Stamp your design on a plain piece of card (and emboss if desired)
2. Cut one or more pieces of paper just a few millimetres wider and longer than your central piece of card, and attach the layers together with double-sided adhesive tape. A metallic paper gives a classic finish.
3. Attach to your card. I decorated plain blue card by stamping it with Mazel Tov (congratulations). This stamp is one of a lovely collection I bought from Papertrey Ink a few years back. I used another design from the same set on these Chanukah cards. It’s a little bit wonky but I’m hoping that adds to the charm of a hand-made card.
I wanted a simple calendar for my classroom which would show the entire Jewish year at a glance. So I made this:
It is a laminated circle showing the Hebrew months set against the Gregorian calendar months. I used a split pin (brad) to attach it to a backing piece of cardboard, so that you can rotate it as the year goes past. (It actually was Adar when I made it!) I put a second circle in the middle which does not need to rotate, and my original plan was that this would cover the brad. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a brad which was large and flat enough that the circle would stick to it – so I had to put the brad through both circles.
Admittedly it is only approximate, and does not take into account leap years (when the Jewish calendar gains an entire extra month), but it does show the whole cycle of the year at once which was my main requirement. I added stickers or drew pictures to indicate the main festivals. I think this would be a great project for kids who are learning the names of the months of the Jewish calendar.
I made it by drawing concentric circles on the computer and then using a quilting ruler as a protractor to add the “spokes” after I had printed it. You are welcome to use my template for the circles and add your own spokes and text.
I decided when I made it to write the months going anti-clockwise around the circle, but I notice now that every other circular, perpetual Hebrew calendar I can see on Google goes clockwise, so my classroom calendar might be unique in more ways than one! However as long as the months are in the right order, I guess it doesn’t really matter too much.
Last Tu Bishvat, I organised a snack activity to tie in with the theme of the Seven Species, “shivat haMinim”. These are the grains and fruits listed in the Torah as being special products of Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel: “a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and (date) honey”.
It’s not so easy to combine all these species into one child-friendly snack, so I cheated slightly by replacing olives with almonds (as almond trees blossom in Israel around the time of Tu Bishvat) and gluing the lot together with chocolate icing. It was delicious!! (We also offered the kids bread with olive oil for dipping, so no species was missed out.)
All you need is a packet of Malt biscuits (which contain both wheat and barley)
and some chopped up fruit (specifically: dates, dried figs, pomegranate seeds and sultanas) and slivered almonds
and a quantity of home-made chocolate icing (or something similar) to hold the fruit and nuts in place.
Spread the biscuit with chocolate icing, load up with date, fig, pomegranate, sultanas and almonds – some of the kids even made little pictures out of their toppings – and eat! This was so quick and easy to organise, and so popular, I can guarantee we’ll be doing it again.
I was teaching the Hebrew letter kaf (כּ) to some 6-7 year olds, and wanted a quick craft activity to go with it. What starts with kaf? Well all sorts of things actually, but one of them is kippah. So we made paper kippot.
You will need:
– paper – normal photocopy weight paper is fine
– a small plate to trace around, or a compass
– sticky tape
– decorating materials (markers, stickers etc)
First, draw a circle on a piece of paper. I used an 18cm (7″) paper plate, which makes quite a large kippah. If your child wants to wear the finished product, you might need to make it a little smaller.
Next, decorate the inside of your circle. You might like to draw other things which start with kaf, such as keter (crown), kochavim (stars) and kelev (dog) as well as the letter kaf itself. My daughter decided to draw a dragon wearing a keter (crown – starts with letter kaf) while flying over a derech (pathway – ends with letter kaf) through a bamboo forest.
Now cut out the circle, and carefully fold it in half, then into quarters. Unfold it again. You will need to cut halfway along each of the four lines you have just made in the paper. (See where the green lines are on the image below).
Once you have made your cuts, gently overlap the two edges of each cut (as per the green shaded area above, adjusting it to the shape you want) and secure it with sticky tape.
And that’s all there is to it! Just add a hairclip and wear your new kippah with pride! :-)
I can’t believe it’s nearly Chanukah again already! The Chanukah bunting and dreidel decorations are up, the cushions are out, the table runner is on display, my daughter is flipping felt latkes and leaving dreidels all over the floor while I clean up to the sound of our Chanukah compilation CD.
It’s just as well I made all these things earlier, because I started a university degree this year and study has taken away almost all of the time I used to spend crafting. So all I have to show off that is new are this year’s Chanukah cards.
After last year’s dreidel cards, I decided to use my silhouette cutter again. I designed a chanukiah (Chanukah menorah) to cut out, and a background of Chanukah lyrics to print on the card before I cut it out.
This means that I get two sorts of cards – one with the menorah cut out, and the other with the pieces that were removed. It leads to lots of mix and match games involving random pieces of Japanese paper, gold foil and cellophane. I particularly like the cellophane stained glass window effect.
Gluing down all the candles (in the correct order so that you can still make out the lyrics) was not so exciting, but it seemed crazy to waste them.
Sticking one piece of colourful paper behind the menorah silhouette was a lot faster!
And here is a cross section from earlier in the week. I’ve made quite a few more now, but need to be writing them and posting them, not just talking about them on here!
If you receive handmade cards at Chanukah (or any other festival), here’s a tip: don’t recycle them all like you probably do with mass-produced cards. Keep the most beautiful ones to display again in future years. Ours are blu-tacked to the wall, but I have a friend who pegs hers to the edges of her curtains. And keep a sample of your own work to display by giving one to someone who lives in the same house as you. (I write a card for my daughter.) It’s such a joy to look back at cards that were really made with love.
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