Tag Archives: shema

Make Your Own Lego Mezuzah

Lego Mezuzah. A Simple Version

Lego Mezuzah. A Simple Version

DIY Lego Mezuzah with Kids

(Update: a revised version is now here under my Jewish LEGO page)

I’m a big fan of making mezuzah cases with kids, and especially out of found materials. In my house, Lego qualify as found material, as they are found under every large piece of furniture.

Making a ritual object out of repurposed materials with your kid is fun and Jewish (two words we like to link as often as possible), useful and meaningful. In the case of a mezuzah (pun intended), we can touch the container every time we enter a room, which gives us a physical connection to the Sh’ma prayer inside and the parent-child crafted case outside. Of course, we make sure the case is mounted low enough for kids to reach, too. (And the observant among us would have a kosher mezuzah higher up on the doorframe already. For mezuzah rules, see here.)

Other materials great for making mezuzah cases are: dental floss containers, toothbrush tubes, fat straws (from bubble tea), half a walnut shell, toothpaste boxes, plastic tubing and pretty much anything longer than it is wide and that will still fit on a doorpost. Laurie Bellet, author of The Reluctant Artist, posted a great idea at the Torah Aura blog about making cases from dried-out markers.

Do see  my Kveller.com article about making training scrolls (as in “not kosher” scrolls) with kids and about making mezuzah cases from used glue stick containers and empty matchboxes.

But why Lego?  Why not?  Lego are fantastically fun building materials. And if you love Lego, you and your kid can happily fiddle with a pile of assorted bricks and come up with all sorts of designs.

The basic requirements are that the case is: big enough to hold a scroll, has a way to open and close to insert the scroll, and has a flat back for mounting to doorpost with tape.

The flat plate base, upside down

The rest is left up to the imagination. My dream is to create a big letter Shin(the traditional decoration for any case) on the front using the tiny, single-knob round pieces, but I have so far been unable to meet this challenge.

A stylized Lego Shin

To make a three-legged Shin requires five horizontal rows of knobs, and my flat plate is only four rows wide. I made a sample Shin (at left) which could easily attach it to the front of my mezuzah, but the thick profile (I don’t have the right kind of flat plates) would protrude too far into the doorway. Continue reading

Matchbox Mezuzah

Matchbox Mezuzah

Here’s another easy mezuzah for kids to make, but this one is genuinely pretty. We used a photocopied klaf (parchment) inside the matchbox and mounted it low enough for a preschooler to actually reach.

My three-year old made this with his dad’s help, which would not have been much help, so I believe any kid can create a sweet mezuzah with these materials. The kicker is the lovely, golden Shaddai sticker (the shin with the crown), which makes the whole thing look and feel legit. The stickers come in a sheet of 48 from Benny’s Educational Toys, and the blank matchbooks come from Oriental Trading.

I must mention that playing with matchboxes is irresistible for any age, so this is a particularly hands-on craft. I organized a Matchbox Mezuzah group project for a Shema workshop last weekend at our synagogue and the parents were just as pleased to open and close and open and close the boxes….

Need:
Tape (I used blue painter’s tape)
Blank white matchbox (or used ones if you’ve got them)
Craft sticks (I used the broad, tongue-depressor size that comes in colors)
Tissue paper squares (cut from gift wrap)
Liquid starch (or white glue) in a small bowl or jar lid
Small brush
Shema scroll (see previous post: Glue Stick Mezuzah for ideas about this)

  • First, tape the stick to the back of the matchbox. It doesn’t matter what kind of tape because you will cover it with starch and tissue in a moment.
  • Brush thin layer of starch or glue on matchbox—including over the tape—and then place individual layers of the tiny tissue paper squares everywhere except the open ends.
    Keep brushing starch and affixing layers until you or your child needs to be done…
  • Top with a crowned shin sticker if you have it, or any shin sticker. Or, wait until the box is dry and write a shin with permanent marker or rubber stamp.

The only trick is to make sure you don’t starch the matchbox shut. If you do, you can run a sharp knife through the seams after all is dry.

Glue Stick Mezuzah: or, Make a Green Mezuzah for Free

A Glue Stick Mezuzah

Here’s a new use for an empty glue stick tube: a mezuzah case. If you collect a bunch, you have a cost-free craft for a whole class.

Glue Sticks don’t last very long. Manufacturers seem to keep shrinking the volume of glue without shrinking the actual container, and the glue has a fairly short shelf life (about two years).  Thus, empty glue stick containers multiply, especially at a school.

A mezuzah is really the scroll inside of 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, and in every price range. This one comes in sticky plastic and is free.

Making a mezuzah case as pretty as you are able can actually Continue reading

Jewish Bedtime Rituals for families

Bedtime Sh’ma Coloring Book with your child’s photo

InterfaithFamily.com (which is a great site, by the way, full of info and ideas and community) just posted an article about making bedtime Jewish written by Chief Education Officer Karen Kushner, with a link to a free pdf booklet: “Goodnight, Sleep Tight: Jewish Rituals for Your Interfaith Family.”

I am delighted Jewish bedtime is getting attention. Transforming the nightly routine into something Jewish is easy: just add a new element or two–something that feels comfortable and genuine. Whether a family is interfaith or not: it doesn’t matter: what matters is that at least one parent is committed to making every day (and night) more Jewish.

Please see my Jewish Bedtime page for a detailed breakdown of every step of a typical bedtime progression, with plenty of suggestions about how to inject a bit of Jewishness.

Just a few of the suggestions:

  • Bathtime can include a repurposed Jewish toy, Jewish songs, or Hebrew foam letters that stick to the sides of the tub.
  • Your child’s pillow can wear a Shema pillowcase with easy reference to the traditional nighttime prayer.
  • Your choice of bedtime story is vast: I divide  into categories and review some popular offerings.
  • Links for bedtime suggestions by different Jewish denominations.
  • The book pictured above is still available by mail order from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit’s J.E.F.F. program (Jewish Experience for Families). Unfortunately, their adorable Shma pillowcase is no longer produced, but Pitome.com has a kit or you can stencil, rubber stamp or use transfer paper to make your own.
  • See also my review of what I called the best bedtime Sh’ma book, which isn’t even Jewish or about the Sh’ma.
  • And my post about making bedtime Jewish for little kids.

The Best Bedtime Sh’ma Book

best bedtime Shema book, even though it isn't a Shema book...

best bedtime Shema book, even though it isn’t about the Shema at all…

Traditional Jews recite the Sh’ma three times in a regular day, including at bedtime. Lately, Jewish parents of all flavors have begun adding a bedtime Sh’ma to their routine. Reciting the Sh’ma right before bed is a sweet way to inject Jewishness into a kid’s life. It may seem a small step, but the timing makes it a big one. Bedtime is the vulnerable transition when kids are tired but receptive. They move from from waking to sleep, from together to alone, from light to Continue reading

Making bedtime jewish for little kids

bedtime props

Pay no attention to the woman in the Piggly Wiggly tshirt. Bedtime props from the workshop: Foam letters stick to bathtub walls, and a plush Torah (albeit with a slightly sinister expression to us grownups) can be a Jewish sleep lovey. Continue reading