Category Archives: Shabbat

DIY Jewish star stamps

jewish star pasta stamps

DIY stamps and clay punches with Jewish Star pasta

Before I forget, here’s a thrifty way to convert Jewish star pasta into a punch to make impressions in clays and into a stamp for paints and inks.  Continue reading

Tie-Dye Challah Cover improvements

traced letters, cotton napkin, paint tie-dye

traced letters, cotton napkin, paint tie-dye

I wrote about at-the-sink tie-dye challah covers with kids, using diluted acrylic paint in squeeze bottles. The paint was free, the dyeing was fast and easy, and the results were gorgeous.
Now, I’ve fixed my one regret: that I had to pencil the Hebrew letters on each cloth before class. I’d rather kids do as much of the work as possible, even if they don’t know Hebrew letters yet. Kids don’t learn when adults do the work. Continue reading

Tie-Dye Challah Covers (with kids and free dye)

diluted acrylic paint

diluted acrylic paint

Did you know you can (sort of) make fabric dye with acrylic paint? This trick turns even ancient acrylic into gorgeous tie-dye for free. I found out by accident.
Bottom line: I used old paint to “squeeze-bottle tie-dye” challah covers with kids while we stood over a sink. It was easy, it was gorgeous, tidy, and it was free.

Continue reading

Burning Questions about DIY Candleholders

Motivated by news that a friend’s child-crafted Model Magic menorah caught fire last night, I offer some tips. Not in the superior tone of the irksome “You’re Doing It Wrong” trend, but as a fellow parent of children who come home from Sunday School clutching hand-made Judaica meant to contain naked flame. Continue reading

Menorahs and other lessons through (literally) Jewish lenses

Stars are crisper in person, I promise. I held the glasses over my camera lens.

Stars are far crisper in person. I held the glasses over my camera lens.

I don’t often tout a store-bought product, but I recently discovered that Jewish Star spectacles are back in production. The holographic lenses convert every focused light source into a Jewish star. Peep at a candle, a ceiling fixture, a lamp, and it becomes a Mogen David. Small light = small star, big light = big star. Imagine looking at a Hanukkah menorah on the 8th night.

Continue reading

Jewish Tangrams: Shabbat candles

Tangram Shabbat candles

Tangram Shabbat candles

Here’s another printable for Jewish tangrams: Shabbat candles. Fold the sheet to hide the solution or keep it flat for beginners. Click image to print pdf. Continue reading

Manischewitz Tiki Torch: An Essay

the Tacky Torch

Tacky Tiki Torch

The Manischewitz Tiki Torch.  Unendorsed, unaffiliated, unnoticed by the Manischewitz company, but most emphatically created in homage to it.  I timed the debut for erev Sukkot, and I admit, I am tickled purple with myself. Continue reading

Havdalah Besamim Activities

besamim buffet

students sample herbs, spices to choose favorites for bag

This post focuses on the spicy part of Havdalah. Besamim work is a rich, smelly hands-on opportunity to create memorable connections to Shabbat (and to being Jewish). You choose the level: make a garden, a pot, a sachet, an herb buffet, an etrog pomander, a “Smell Test,” or besamim containers simple and fancy.

Continue reading

Making Rolled Beeswax Candles for Havdalah

rolled beeswax sheets, twisted or braided by students

rolled beeswax sheets, twisted or braided by students

My Making Havdalah Candles with Kids Intro has the general whats and whys.  I’ve also got posts about how to dip beeswax Havdalah candles and how to repurpose cruddy Hanukkah candles for Havdalah.

To roll Havdalah candles out of beeswax sheets is a zillion times easier than to dip tapers.  Especially if you’ve procured soft sheets of wax: sheets that are pliable, supple, biddable.  The good wax. Continue reading

Mini Havdalah candle (twisted Hanukkah candles)

quick, cheap DIY

quick, cheap DIY

What if you want kids to make Havdalah candles and you don’t have the time and materials (or inclination) for nice, beeswax versions?  I’m the first to admit that candles from scratch can be a big to-do—even just the simple, rolled sheets.
Rejoice: all you really need are leftover Hanukkah candles, a bowl and a teakettle.
Just twist two warmed Hanukkah candles to create one mini Havdalah candle.  It’s an easy, cheap DIY that can make any Havdalah lesson hands-on and memorable. Continue reading

Making Dipped Beeswax Candles for Havdalah

First, please read my Intro post for making Havdalah candles with kids.  I’ve also got one coming for Rolled Beeswax Havdalah candles and one for the E-Z version using repurposed Hannukah candles.  This one is just about dipped beeswax… 

worth the work, I swear

worth the work, I swear (click pic to enlarge)

To make candles with kids could be a straightforward project.  But then again, to make candles with kids could also be my biggest teaching challenge heretofore, and in fact could be a Kafkaesque labyrinth in which I stagger from one surreal complication to the next.  Who knew that to melt a bit of beeswax and dip a string could be so dramatic? Continue reading

Making Havdalah Candles with kids

more than one wick = fire / eish = kosher

more than one wick = fire / eish = kosher

This will be my short Havdalah candle post.  I shall simply tell the whys and whats.  The hows, I’ll save for three additional posts: one for rolled beeswax sheets, one for dipped beeswax tapers, and one for a repurposed Hanukkah candle version.  Four posts just might be enough room to wax lyrical about the ups and downs and sideways of a seemingly simple process.  I feel compelled to record my experiences so that others may skip the labyrinthine bits and get right to the part where everything turns out well. Continue reading

Havdalah Garden in a tub

fresh, Fall planting

fresh, Fall planting

Havdalah is a lovely, quick, slightly spooky service that marks the distinction between the end of Shabbat and the beginning of the work week.  Each Saturday night morphs from Sacred Time to Ordinary Time whether we mark it or not.  But to mark it with Havdalah can be fun, memorable and oh-so-kid-friendly (especially in the winter when sundown happens earlier in relation to bedtimes).

The traditional ceremony requires just a few Continue reading

Etrog Besamim for Havdalah


10 year-old etrog pomander and a fresh one, awaiting puncture

Sukkot’s over.  Did you buy an etrog?  Or did your school or synagogue buy one?  If so, don’t pitch it on the compost pile.  You and your kid can repurpose it into a nifty spice pomander for Havdalah.  It’s a nice way to extend Sukkot (and the  harvest’s bounty) to a Jewish service/ceremony that happens every single week.  The spices of Havdalah—called besamim—are supposed to be natural materials that smell lovely enough to console us for the loss of Shabbat and to kickstart a good week ahead.  A clove-studded etrog can Continue reading

Book Review: The Shabbat Princess

The Shabbat Princess, written by Amy Meltzer, illustrated by Martha Avilés (Kar-Ben, $7.95, 32 pages, ages 4-8, ISBN 9780761351061). See links below.

I got a copy of The Shabbat Princess a few weeks ago and put it on my desk to review, but my 4 year-old son saw it, took it, and still keeps it in the “good” book pile by his bed.  This arrangement constitutes his version of a book review.  Continue reading

Edible Mishkan: Build (and Eat) Me a Tabernacle

Edible Mishkan - Tabernacle

copper altar . . .

Last week’s Parsha was Vayakel, the one where the Israelites build the Mishkan, the Tabernacle in the wilderness. So, for a Shabbat activity at synagogue, I created an Edible Mishkan. Each kid 2nd grade and up made a personal, edible Mishkan.

Many liberties have been taken with materials, but it was a sweet little project.

Everything is kosher. My store was out of Jelly Belly gummy bears, or they would be sitting on the ark as chubby cherubim. Continue reading

Jewish Mommy Meme

On May 23rd, blogger HomeShuling tagged me for her meme: a word I had to look up and still don’t know what it means.  Basically, HomeShuling sent six Shabbat-related questions out to several Jewish Mom Bloggers and the world at large, with a view to the construction of a virtual Shabbat.  To me, the method constitutes an online chain letter, which I normally shun (having been raised to think they are always suspect) but this time happily answered.  No secret agenda here, just community.
Continue reading

Tot Shabbat Survey

This entry is simply a question for YOU.
If you go to a synagogue with your kids, what programming do they offer on Shabbat morning? Please leave a comment here about the structure of the kid’s service, what you like about it, and what you don’t like about it, and any other info or advice.

Our synagogue is revamping its Saturday morning programming for little kids. We’re offering a Tot Shabbat every single Shabbat morning at 10:30. Right now, different leaders do totally different things each time.

I want a unified, structured program about 30 minutes long, and it has to contain these things: a format that loosely mimics the Shabbat liturgy in the main sanctuary (we’ll say the Shema, do the Torah procession, etc.); some songs, dancing, movement, play; and some kind of hands-on exploration of the week’s Torah portion, or Parsha. We are a Conservative shul, so we cannot use art materials or musical instruments, but we can do puppets, dress-up, stickers, and role-play.

I would love to hear about any service that WORKS: anything that keeps kids engaged.
Thanks very much!

Hallowe’en Hallah

I’ve got it down. I know precisely when to start mixing the challah dough so that the moment the kids get home from school they can “punch.” If you’ve never made bread by hand, and have thus been denied the unaccountable pleasure of punching down dough, I urge you to unplug the bread machine and give it a go. Punching down dough is, alas, a fleeting pleasure: it takes about a second and you only get to punch once. But feeling—and hearing—the whole mass deflate is quite satisfying. And when else do we get to punch anything?
As I mentioned in the last entry, making the challah will help to assuage the Hallowe’en/Shabbat guilt ever so slightly.
Multiple fun-size Snickers bars will help even more.
I’ll let you know.

p.s. I use the hallah-with-kids recipe in Joan Nathan’s “The Children’s Jewish Holiday Kitchen.”

Happy Shabbos or Gut Hallowe’en? A fall fix.

As soon as the single Simchat Torah flag and all the Sukkot decorations were put away, out came the Hallowe’en crap. I have three ginormous plastic bins in the attic full of witch hats, pumpkin lights, teeny mummies on strings, table runners, spooky candles, and wee skull candy-holders. For starters. The black plastic cauldrons and home-made bouncey bats (toilet paper rolls, cereal box cardboard, and google eyes: classic) couldn’t fit, so they spilled over into the shed. We love Hallowe’en at my house. This year, though, there is a bit of a snag. It’s on Shabbat. Continue reading