Joyful Jewish

Posts Tagged ‘Simchat Torah

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!!

Look what I made!

Exhibit A: not my cup of tea

I’ve been wanting a stuffed toy Torah for a while now, but they are not available locally, postage from overseas is expensive, and frankly I wanted something that looked more like a scroll and less like a multicoloured cartoon alien (see exhibit A).  With Shavuot approaching, I decided to take the plunge and make my own.  Thankfully at least one talented person has been smart enough to design their own toy Torah, and kind enough to put the instructions online.  Thank you Sweet&Crunchy!!

Days are like scrolls; write on them what you will.

Following her tutorial, I didn’t have too much trouble putting my own home-made sewn-and-stuffed toy Torah together.  I used calico (approx 30cm wide x 85cm long) for the scroll, felt for the handles (approx 8.5cm diameter for the circles), a ribbon for the belt, and some leftover fancy fabric (with scalloped edge) for the cover.  I only had to unpick one major blooper, so I’m feeling quite pleased with myself!

My daughter is very happy and already making plans to carry it around shul for Simchat Torah!  I am hoping to make a breastplate, yad and possibly even rimonim, but the technicalities of all that will be revealed in the fullness of time (ie after I figure it out for myself!)

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

Bubbe Isabella and the Sukkot Cake by Kelly Terwilliger, illustrated by Phyllis Hornung

This is a very sweet story about Bubbe (Granny) Isabella who builds a sukkah, bakes a sukkot cake and hopes guests will visit her.  The visitors she receives over the week-long festival are all friendly animals who join her in singing and telling jokes in the sukkah.  None of them want to eat the cake, and what finally happens to it is quite entertaining, especially from a toddler’s perspective!  At the end of the book, Bubbe Isabella turns to the celebration of Simchat Torah.

Reading from an Australian perspective you may want to reverse the seasons to match the local reality, as Sukkot is an autumn festival in the northern hemisphere but here we are just launching into spring.   If someone would re-write this story with Australian animals it would be fabulous!

My daughter was two last Simchat Torah, and it was the most fun she had ever had in synagogue.  She loved that her daddy danced around the synagogue while carrying a torah  and that I was dancing around carrying her!  She talked about it for months afterwards.

This year I decided to make her a flag to wave.   I wanted something quick and easy to make but that would still look good and hopefully last for a while (ie longer than a paper flag).

– wooden dowelling.  I found 8mm diameter, 120cm long pine dowelling at Bunnings for $2 each.
– fabric.    I went to Spotlight and told a saleswoman I needed fabric which would look good from either side, and she recommended a plain cotton fabric which would be easy to sew and quite cheap too.  If you are a sewer and know your fabrics, you could probably use something fancier or with better draping qualities, but for a small flag the cotton is fine.
– Rickrack or other ribbon  (optional decoration).

Equipment I used
Sewing machine, thread, fabric scissors, pins, measuring tape, chalk or similar to mark fabric when measured, sticky tape. If you didn’t want to sew flags, you could probably use glue or staples.  Small saw to cut the dowelling.

How to make your Simchat Torah flags

1. Cut dowelling into suitable lengths.  Mine are 40cm long.

2. Cut rectangles from your fabric.  I cut mine approximately 25cm x 36cm.  (The longer measurement was not done via tape measure but by folding the width of the original piece of fabric into three equal pieces and cutting.  As a bonus, two pieces will have a selvage edge.)  With these measurements, you can cut 12 flags from one metre of fabric.

3. Fold over one short side about 0.5cm, then over again about 2cm and stitch so that you create a tunnel into which you will insert your dowelling.   I contemplated hemming the other edges of my flag, but decided it was not worthwhile given it is not designed to last forever or go through the wash.

4. Cut two ribbons or pieces of rick-rack approximately the length of the flag.

5. Sew across the top of the hem-tunnel where you are inserting your dowel (so that it forms a pocket) BUT before you stitch, place the pieces of ribbon/rick-rack either side of the place you are going to stitch.  Then you can attach the ribbon/rick-rack and sew up the pocket at the same time.

6.  Insert dowel and ta-dah! One easy-to-wave Simchat Torah flag.

More ideas

To prevent the cloth from coming off the dowel, I used sticky tape, but you could glue or staple it if you preferred.

I chose plain yellow, green and blue fabric to reflect the story in “Bubbe Isabella’s Sukkot Cake”

You could embellish this flag in sooooo many ways, but I’m keeping it simple this year because I have no spare time. Next year I’m planning to make some more, maybe just in white fabric, and letting the kids at Shabbat Tot decorate their own with fabric paint etc.

Fun crafts and activities for Jewish families with young children

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