Jewish bath toys, part 1

Dreaded foam yes, but I own three sets.

Dreaded foam yes, but I own three sets.

Toddler broke out the foam Hebrew puzzles this morning.  Actually, I broke out the foam Hebrew puzzles because the wooden ones were too noisy.  I woke with a migraine, which makes me super-sensitive to just about everything except staying in bed (not an option), and which makes the sound of a wooden puzzle turned upside down and emptied onto an oak floor unbearable.

I love Hebrew puzzles. I hate foam. But I love foam Hebrew puzzles. I know the manufacture of foam is bad for the environment, bad for the poor workers who mold it, and bad for the environment again when it hits the landfill. I limit all my foam consumption to my [perceived] minimum of three identical Hebrew puzzles. I brook no foam craft sheets, toys, notebooks, tools, embellishments, costumes. I cringe and complain when I see kids creating crappy crafts at school and shul, using toxic, never-to-biodegrade foam sheets when paper or cardboard would be perfectly fine. Don’t forget the special, extra-brain-death-chemical adhesive all foam requires: Elmer’s glue just won’t stick. Any craft project that destroys brain cells and continues to off-gas throughout eternity seems a bit. . . unnecessary.

I don’t just love any foam Hebrew puzzle. While I covet those over-sized floor tile/mat puzzles, I know perfectly well that they will smell like a factory when I open the package, and they will make me fall on the floor and die. Or at least make me feel woozy and ill. And I know that even if I am the canary in a coal mine–the first indicator of bad air and thus a warning to all–everyone around me must be getting poisoned, too, even though they are not falling immediately to the floor.

But these small puzzles, the ones I like, do not stink. And, they are fun and squishy. Each row of letters is color-coded, which makes matching a letter to a hole a bit easier (process of elimination). Also, only one side is textured, which makes it easier to keep the right side up.

We use them to sing the Alef-Bet song. We use them to spell easy words and our Hebrew names. We use them in the bath (they stick to the sides of a wet tub) and even as rubber stamps (turn them over first, or you’ll spell backwards). We use the letters and the negative letter space for tracing.

I mention this product, as I mentioned my silly Star of David pasta, because I am still starved for Jewish Stuff out here in the buckle of the Bible Belt, and I am thrilled when anyone tips me off to a new, neat thing. Or to a new way to use an old, neat thing.

Benny’s Educational Toys: Alef-bet puzzle, $2.95

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