A shorter version of this post is published at Kveller.com.
There are BLESSINGS for the apples and honey?
I hear this question every year. The answer is yes. And saying the blessings can turn a simple side dish into a meaningful minhag (custom) your kids will remember. To remember the blessings, however, can be a challenge even for us grownups. Thus, I have devised a DIY blessings cheat sheet.
The cheat sheet can help us:
- Spend Jewish time with our kid
- Teach the idea that blessings add meaning and gratitude
- Create an object d’art we get to pull out every year
- Exercise all those skills used in cutting, painting, printing, gluing and so forth
And you don’t have to be uber-spiritual or religious to do blessings, y’all. If you read them in English, you can choose transliterations to reflect your comfort level with gender and Divinity, okay? Or, you can paraphrase in the manner that best suits your Jewish parenting style. If you read them in Hebrew, they sound gorgeous even if no one understands a single word.
And here’s the proper intro and craft:
Rosh Hashanah apples and honey are a traditional treat. At my house we make a big platter every year, pour two kinds of local honey into bowls (for a taste test), and reach for the siddur to read the blessings aloud. And then, every year, we can’t find the blessings. Oh, we remember, the Rosh Hashanah blessings aren’t in the siddur. Meanwhile, it’s Rosh Hashanah eve, we are hungry, we are eyeing those gorgeous apple slices and golden bowls of wildflower honey, and we can’t eat. I don’t know about your home library, but ours is woefully short on books with helpful indices proclaiming page numbers for Rosh Hashanah apple and honey blessings. Eating apples and honey without the blessing, well, it’s like slicing challah without the motzi. Blessings are what help transform a snack into a mindful and memorable ritual.
So, here’s one solution: a Rosh Hashanah placemat with the blessings right there on it. Created by your kid using a printable template, apples and paint. Yes, I know that apple prints are not new, but they usually happen at school. These happen at home, with you.
The quick way is to glue the blessings to paper and then apple-print around them. The slower way is to apple-print first and then glue the blessings over the design. The latter version works well for kids who will otherwise obliterate the words with layers of paint.
You will need:
- Construction paper (the bigger the better)
- Blessings printable (see two links below: a jpg and a pdf)
- Scissors (plain or fancy)
- Glue stick
- Paring knife (adults only)
- Cutting board
- Small, flat plates with rim (one per paint color)
- Paint, washable acrylic or tempera
- Metal fork (optional: for the apple’s handle. A chubby toddler fork is ideal.)
- Black marker and apple-color markers (optional)
- Contact paper (optional)
- Paper towels (because paint is messy)
1. Print the blessing sheet below. Trim with scissors. Trim in a honey-pot shape if you’ve been reading a lot of Winnie the Pooh lately.
3. Cut the apples in half from top to bottom and in quarters. Cut half horizontally around the equator and ask what your child sees in the middle.* Try to make flat, smooth pieces that will stamp evenly.
4. Poke a fork into each apple piece if you need a handle. This never works for me, but some folks swear by it.
5. Squirt paint onto plate.
7. With the apple cut-side down, stamp the paper. Make as many apple prints as you wish.
8. Let dry. Place at the dinner table so you can see the blessings when the time comes. See the traditional order of a festive Rosh Hashanah dinner here.
Goof ups: leftover paper with apple prints can be cut into individual pictures and glued to cardstock for Rosh Hashanah greeting cards and placecards. Add Shana Tovah, Hebrew for “Happy New Year.” This is classic. Bubbe will plotz.
Option: When placemat is dry, use a black marker to create stems and seeds. Use a green marker to add leaves. If you use white paint for the apples against colored paper, use another marker color to create the peel.
Option: Cover placemat with contact paper or laminate for future Rosh Hashanahs. Add the date and ask your child to sign it (even if he can’t write yet).
*Slice an apple around its equator and the inside reveals a star. Penninah Schram, doyenne of Jewish storytellers, has a lovely tale about this, The Apple Tree’s Discovery. My kid didn’t see a star. He saw a flower. So we made up a story about that.
ApplesHoneyBlessingspdf (try this link if you are unable to scoot the below image onto your desktop for printing)