Joyful Jewish

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!

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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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.

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