Not much could prompt me to create anything, much less photograph and post it, after a rainy, three-day weekend at home with an “energetic” 4 year-old and a migraine, but Homeshuling‘s post just did.
In her Craft Projects for Rosh Hashana roundup, she generously mentions two of mine: the edible honey bowl and the blessings placemat. Then, she issues a challenge. Could someone please create and send a pic of a round stuffed challah made from pantyhose, as per the directions at Akhlah.com? Well, since I already have a pantyhose challah on display in the dining room (made 13 years ago by my older kid), and since I already have a packet of “suntan” Legg’s knee-hi’s leftover from a Purim project (more on this later), and since I am willing to sacrifice an ancient bedpillow to harvest the still virginal polyfill, I accepted the challenge. (And, I did this knowing how much the craft resembles something Amy Sedaris should include in a sequel to Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People.)
Heads-Up: stuffing knee-hi pantyhose with polyfill is not the easiest task for anyone with fine-motor challenges. My preschooler thought it was as much fun as putting on his own socks. I thought it felt vaguely claustrophobic, and it made me think of sausage casings. Anyway, if you attempt this craft with kids, be aware it is a sensorial wild card. I ended up doing the stuffing and braiding, but my kid liked poking the fake raisins in the cracks. He especially liked using the challah as a soccer ball a bit later.
Directions: fill 3 knee-hi’s with polyfill or cotton. Tissue paper will work but paper doesn’t have polyfill’s springy softness and will deflate when squeezed by children. And it will be squeezed by children. You don’t own knee’hi’s? No problem. You definitely live near a Walgreens, because everybody lives near at least two.
Tie together at one end. Braid and circle around to attach the other end. Aim for a dome shape, not a ball. The traditional circle or crown shape of the Rosh Hashanah challah is meant to invoke the circularity of the year, of life, of a Divine crown, and so on, rather than a soccer ball. Akhlah recommends cutting up bits of an old dark sock to make raisins, but any brown or black scrap will do, even paper. Hot glue works well on panyhose, by the way, and will come in handy should you ever make a giant hamatasch outfit…
Verdict: Is this project worth the trouble? Yes, as long as you do not expect little kids to craft every step to perfection. It can teach that Rosh Hashana challot are a different shape than regular challot, and will hopefully cause someone to ask why. Plus, it has those fine-motor, spatial, patience, following-directions sorts of benefits. Plus, you are spending Jewish time with your kid. Plus, the result can feature in dramatic play and practical life scenarios.
“Hurl the Challah”
And, if you use enough hot glue to secure those knee’hi’s into permanent challah position, you can turn it into a holiday game. Sanction your child’s urgent need to THROW the challah with: the Challah Hurl. Player take turns (standing behind a line) to toss the challah onto a serving tray without overshooting or overturning. Or, instead of a tray, try a box as the “oven” and stand farther and farther back. This may sound dumb, but is surprisingly fun….