Jewish LEGO

Minifig seder table

Minifig seder table

The intersection  of Jewyness and Lego is pure win. Why?

LEGO gragger: you saw it here first

LEGO doesn’t “do” Jewish. By default, anything Jewy we make out of Lego is a hack, i.e. creative modification: two words that are so Lego to begin with. Add to this the gentle frisson of repurposing an iconic toy to represent components of our an-iconic religious tradition. When we build Jewish Lego, we convert the world’s best construction toy to Judaism.

Then, add the simple tactile pleasure of messing about with Lego, and the simple pleasure of inviting your kid to do the same.  The real question to ask about Jewish Lego is not why, but why not?

Lego minifig menorah

LEGO minifig menorah

Lego makes me happy because I love to build, I love to build with my kids, I love to build things that make Jewish holidays more fun and hands-on, and I love that my core brick collection is from my own childhood, back when two big boxes from Service Merchandise appeared under the Christmas tree, circa 1974.  This last reason indicates the source of that gentle frisson mentioned above. The irony is delicious, but the link to my childhood is still just that: a link, a bridge to who I was and who I am now.

Lego Mezuzah. A Simple Version

LEGO Mezuzah. A Simple Version

I’ve designed Lego mezuzahs, menorahs, dreidels, a Duplo Temple as a set to enact the Hanukkah story, and holiday vignettes galore, but I’ve only just begun. See some of them below.

I’ve also used Lego to teach Hebrew. For a kid to re-create a letter or word with modular components of varying sizes and shapes is some serious learning. And what a cool way to remember the differences in look-alike letters, say, the dalet and the resh: the dalet needs an extra brick up there, but the resh doesn’t. (Tip: use a block letter chart to model from, rather than a siddur-style font.)

preschool spelling practice

How about the rest of the world’s Jewish Lego efforts?  So far, there is no site devoted to the building or the indexing of such. I’d love to see a snazzy photo blog that allowed users to upload pics.  GodBricks does an amazing job keeping track of religious-themed Lego creations, but it encompasses all religions (even ancient ones!).

Chabad deals with Lego at highly visible menorah builds and public menorah lightings.  As befits talented missionaries, they know how to use irresistible materials as outreach.

LEGO sukkah by a 7 year-old

LEGO sukkah by a 7 year-old

Various dedicated AFOL (adult fans of Lego) have made stop-action films with Lego minifigures re-enacting Jewish holidays, events and real films. The Brick Bible interprets most of the “Old Testament” (not our term, y’all) in minifigs, which means the subject matter is arguably Jewish, but the authorship of this visual midrash—from a self-appointed atheist Reverend— ain’t. Here is a good time to mention that the definition of what makes any Jewish art “Jewish” is a topic of hot and ongoing debate.  Is the 17 year-old who assembled the lovely Lego Solomon’s Temple Jewish? I don’t think so, but the Temple is, and maybe a brick version is, too.

PassoverLegoFirstTimeSederGuestOn a smaller scale, adults and kids make dreidels and menorahs out of Lego every year, as is proven by a quick online search.  It makes sense that the most visible Jewish holiday is also the one most often kitted out with Lego.

Here are links to some of my Lego work. The pictures aren’t fabulous, but I present them as inspiration for what you and your kid might create. I’ve also done some quickie vignettes so the minifigs can celebrate Jewish holidays. Type “Lego” in my Search Box in the sidebar anytime to find these and others.

* Lego Seder Plates for humans (not the minifigs)

Lego Passover table and seder plates for minifigs

* Lego vignettes for Passover (Chametz and Mitzrayim)

Lego Mezuzah

Lego Menorah made from 9 minifigures

Lego Menorah (with candles, and a mini version with pegs)

Lego Menorah versions, flameless, various sizes 

Lego Dreidels

DIY Lego Dreidel Kits

Printable How-to for Simple Lego Dreidel

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legosederplate

LEGO seder plate

DIY LEGO dreidel samples

DIY LEGO dreidel samples

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lulav / etrog for LEGO minifig (handmade w/ polymer clay)

Lulav / etrog for LEGO minifig (handmade w/ polymer clay)

11 responses to “Jewish LEGO

  1. I LOVE this post!! I wonder if I can use Legos with my Hebrew School class? I teach third graders during their first official year of instruction. Hmm…can we make letters out of the Legos?

    • The Earth just moved. It was the meeting of like minds. Yes, absolutely to the teaching of letters and words with LEGO. Oh man, if you have a big box of assorted bricks, think of the creativity and leaps of imagination required to recreate letters, vowels, words incrementally. You just reminded me to post a picture of a student-made LEGO Hebrew exercise. Stay tuned, and thank you!

  2. This page was meant to be! And I’m speaking as someone coming from the same place and heading in the same direction, and quite possibly equipped with some very similar boxes of lego… :-) This should guarantee a lot of fun!

  3. Hi Joanna,

    Thanks for the mention of my blog, GodBricks. As you say, I’m not Jewish, but I hope I’m respectful of all of the different faith traditions celebrated in LEGO form on my blog. As you note, a lot of the “Jewish” LEGO creations out there are not necessarily by Jewish builders. For instance, I tag all creations related to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament with “Judaism”, though many are probably built by Christians. The kid who built the huge version of Solomon’s Temple is a Protestant of some denomination, for instance. Brendan Powell Smith, who is behind the “Brick Testament”, is an outspoken atheist.
    BTW, you write how LEGO is not Jewish. Their total lack of religion is something I’ve written about a little on my blog. They have some vaguely religious references here and there, but have largely avoided this, presumably to avoid offending this or that segment of the buying public. I do wish they’d build some of the great religious structures of the world as part of their series of landmarks. For instance, there are large LEGO sets based on the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower – I’d love to see them also have things like Notre Dame, etc.
    Anyway, I’m loving your blog and will feature more of your LEGO creations on mine as well.

    Bruce

    • Your pics and commentary at GodBricks are a lesson in respect for “different faith traditions,” as are your essays. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a Religious Studies major in your background, or a PhD in Comparative Religion. Or maybe you were just raised right. Or maybe you’re just a mensch. Regardless, GodBricks is awesome in scope, presentation and friendliness.
      Glad you inserted a link to your essay about official LEGO and religion. You’ve given religion/LEGO enterprises a lot of thought, and I’m still pondering your essay about motivations.
      It is weird that official LEGO won’t even touch religious structures so freighted in cultural/literary connections (like Notre Dame). But I suppose they’ll get a lot more customers with things like the new “Lady Lego” Friends stuff. More buyers want to pretend to get a manicure than to assemble rosary windows. Erg.

  4. just came home from a boutique- check out “binyan blocks” a jewish themed lego building toy- they have a large synagogue, jewish fire rescue and police like officers, dreidels….with religious looking people! made by company called ner mitzvah

  5. My company is Brick Shtick tm and I do Jewish Wedding and Bat and Bar Mitzvah Cake Toppers as well as Lego Dreidels. My dreidels were featured on FAB.com this month as well as Cool Mom Picks and this awesome site Bible Belt Balabusta last year last year! Please check out my wares at http://www.zibbet.com/brickshtick Enjoy! Val Glaser

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