Make a Mezuzah with your kid (or a whole class).
A do-it-yourself (DIY) mezuzah is a fun way to spend Jewish time together, and you end up with a ritual object ready to use.
WANT TO MAKE A SCROLL?
See Make a Mezuzah Scroll page for simple, printable templates and instructions on how to create training scrolls (toddlers to teens).
WANT TO MAKE A CASE?
Make your own mezuzah case with found materials for free. Show your child a variety of mezuzah cases (at a gift shop, a synagogue, online, etc.) and then hunt together for appropriate materials.
Some examples: empty glue stick, empty matchbox, toothbrush holder, empty half of a walnut shell, paper cylinder, empty dental floss cylinder or box, toilet paper tube, cardboard tube from a dry cleaner hanger, fat straw (like the kind in bubble tea), dried-up broad-tipped marker (with insides pulled out), four large craft sticks (aka popsicle sticks) glued together to form a rectangular prism, flexible and rigid plastic tubing, pvc pipe, and so on.
BUT FIRST, WHAT IS A MEZUZAH?
A SCROLL OR A CASE?
A mezuzah is really the scroll inside a mezuzah case: a klaf, or piece of kosher parchment upon which a sofer—scribe—has written (special ink, special quill) the first two passages of the Shema, Judaism’s central prayer. The Shema is comprised of key verses from Deuteronomy (6:9 and 11:13-21), and begins, “Hear, Oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.”
Mezuzah literally means “doorpost,” and it is on our doorposts that Jews are obliged to mount a mezuzah. Doing so is a mitzvah—a commandment—and, what a coincidence, it is a biblical commandment found in the Shema itself: “you shall inscribe them [these words] on the doorposts of your home.”
So, every Jewish home, or to be more inclusive, every home in which someone identifies as Jewish, needs a mezuzah on the doorposts. Home in Hebew is bayit, and the home of a mezuzah—the case—is called a beit mezuzah, or mezuzah home. A beit mezuzah can be made out of just about any material that protects the scroll.
When we enter a room with a mezuzah on the doorpost, we touch the case and bring our fingers to our lips (or vice versa, depending on custom). This is a physical connection to the symbolic meanings of the words inside.
Kids, however, miss out on this gesture. They aren’t tall enough to reach a mezuzah that is properly hung. Making a mezuzah and hanging it within reach of your child means they can participate, too. *
Making a mezuzah case as pretty as you are able bags yet another commandment: hiddur mitzvah, which means beautifying the mitzvah. Of course, the beauty of a child-crafted product will be in the eye of the beholder. Just remember the process can be beautiful, too.
For rules about placement, see this brief and printable pdf from USCJ (from the Conservative movement). Technically, it goes on the right-hand side of a door as one enters, and in the lower part of the top third.
*If you already have kosher mezuzot hanging from every doorpost, you may still mount child-crafted, “training” mezuzot within reach of the youngest member of the family. Temporary mounting options include poster putty, foam tape, masking tapes.