Joyful Jewish

My 5 year old daughter can’t remember where she just put her shoes 10 minutes ago, but she has an impeccable memory when it comes to food.  Despite me not having even thought about it, as soon as Sukkot arrived she promptly reminded me of the need to purchase biscuits and lollies (a.k.a. cookies and candy) to make edible sukkot!

As you will see from a quick Image search for edible sukkot on Google, the possibilities are quite varied – sweet or savoury; simple or decorated; mostly healthy or dentist’s nightmare.  Most of them are stuck together with icing (frosting) but that’s too complicated and messy for really small kids who just want to build their own.

Last year our biggest challenge was getting the walls to stay upright.  As you can see here:

This year, I figured it out.  If the walls are thicker, they will stand up by themselves.  Thick, flat-sided wafer biscuits = success!  We used some that are almost square, but if you can only get smaller ones you might be able to stack them like bricks.  No more screams of anguish as yet another wall collapses before the roof can go on!

Unfortunately due to the last minute nature of my shopping, I was not able to track down any stick-like biscuits for the roof (pretzels here only seem to come in the curly variety not straight) but last year we used Pocky sticks, which I developed a taste for when I lived in Japan.  This year we used shortbread fingers, which gave our sukkot a rather solid look.  I’ll be back to something thinner next year.

Next year I wonder if I could thread some Froot Loops onto the Pocky sticks before putting them on the roof??  Hmmm, might need to test that theory out sooner than next Sukkot!

A couple of years ago, I purchased a bunch of Jewish cookie cutters.  They are great, and we now have a family tradition of making Torah shaped biscuits for Simchat Torah.

Last year we decorated our biscuits with sprinkles.

This year we tried a new thing – imprinting a magen david onto the dough before baking it.  I had never done this before but was very happy with how they looked, especially as the recipe I used didn’t turn out exactly as I had hoped.  The good news is – they were still absolutely delicious!!

Last year I made some apple decorations to hang in my sukkah after Rosh Hashanah, based on an idea by Creative Jewish Mom.  Then I saved my plastic soda bottles all year so my Shabbat Tot group of kids could all make their own apple decoration for Rosh Hashanah.

To make this craft easy for very young children, I prepared a bunch of different pieces of paper or plastic that I had in my craft stash: printer paper, crepe paper, cellophane, florists’ paper etc – some shiny, some matt, some translucent.  These were all red apart from some gold cellophane to represent honey.  All the kids had to do was select some pieces and scrunch them up, then put them into the container – perfect fun and easy enough even for 2 year olds.  The “honey” went inside too.  To finish off the apple, the child taped on a cardboard leaf.

Sukkot in Australia falls at the start of Spring, and the weather is quite unpredictable.  It rained for several days last year (the first year we built our own sukkah) and I thought it would be exceedingly optimistic to make paper chains and expect them to remain dry.  Then a few months ago I was cleaning out a drawer of stationery and found some old file dividers which are made from very thin plastic, and in one of those “a-ha!” moments I realised I could have my chains after all.

Simply cut the plastic file dividers into strips (I use an old wooden ruler which is about an inch wide to measure out even strips) and staple or sticky tape together into chains.

Here is one of our chains in the sukkah – above you can see one of our plastic bottle apples, and below are fuse bead decorations.

My wonderful husband is blessed with the annually useful talent of being able to make a great sound with a shofar. (In fact he can actually play recognisable tunes on a shofar, which is pretty impressive – too bad there is no need for this in a religious context!  I keep telling him he should take up trumpet.)  He was giving a shofar demonstration for a group of kids, most of whom were under 3 and not good at sitting still.  So we made it into an action game for them.

When he blew Tekiah, they took a big step forward.
When he blew Shevarim, they took three smaller steps forward.
When he blew Teruah, they did a bunch of steps on the spot.
And when he finally blew Tekiah Gedolah, they ran all the way to end of the hall and back again.

It was a lot of fun!

Fuse beads (hama beads, perler beads, whatever you want to call them) are awesome!  We found a new source of beads, including brown ones (how did we ever manage without brown?) and have been trying out some new ideas.  So, what can you do with fuse beads, other than vacuum them out of the carpet?  I made these Rosh Hashanah decorations for our front screen door and they are a little kitschy but I’m pretty happy with them.

The apple was made on a round pegboard.  The thing that looks like a furry red caterpillar is the pipecleaner (chenille stem) I used to attach it to the screen.  I didn’t realise we had two not-quite-identical shades of red until I took this photo, the joys of mixing up two sets of beads from different manufacturers!

The honeycomb was made on the central part of a six-pointed star (magen david) pegboard.

I made the text on a square pegboard, and the shofar down one side of a heart-shaped pegboard.  They are strung together with jewellery wire, and then onto a pipe cleaner.

So, come on over… :-)

PS If you like this, you might also like my fuse bead dreidels and shabbat designs.

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!

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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