This is an edited version of my original DIY Lego Mezuzah with Kids post from 2011.
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 creates a physical connection to the Sh’ma prayer inside and the parent-child crafted case outside. Of course, we make sure at least one case is mounted low enough for kids to reach, too. (The observant among us will have a kosher mezuzah higher up on the doorframe already. For mezuzah rules, see here.)
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 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-stud round pieces, but I have so far been unable to meet this challenge.
To make a three-legged Shin requires five horizontal rows of studs, 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.
But, maybe you have a more of a variety in your Lego hoard and will not be deterred. My collection is a glorious mess of hand-me-downs and yard-sale victories, with nothing newer than 10 years old. We have no Technic pieces yet, but I have my eyes open. Teeny gears, spindles, wheels and such will appeal to older kids and geeky parents. If you’d like to see pictures of the different bricks and awesome ways to sort and store them, see this article at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories (total geekdom. I love it.)
I got the idea for Lego Mezuzot from the adorable cases by JewDads. See the JewDads website and their product page at Modern Tribe. The designs are customizable, imaginative and cute, and they are permanent, so if you buy one, little hands will not demolish it in three seconds.
But for folks who just want to mess around with Lego, or for folks who don’t have the discretionary income to buy much Judaica online (me, on both counts), we can play around with making mezuzah cases at home for free.
My version is very simple, I admit, and rather plain. But it demonstrates one way to construct a basic closed case. I started with a 4 x 12 flat plate (4 studs by 12 studs), then made a wall around the perimeter with a series of 1 x bricks (bricks only one stud in width). I used clear 2 x 4 bricks for the front so we could see the scroll inside, and we just remove the top two when we need to put the scroll in or take it out.
I did not glue this together because I haven’t made a model I like well enough to preserve it for eternity. My kid is less picky, thankfully. Epoxy is probably the best bet for gluing, but most epoxies off-gas something awful and I wouldn’t do the gluing indoors and certainly not right next to my kid’s head.
I use foam tape squares to affix it to the doorframe. For temporary mounts, blue painter’s tape and poster clay work well. If your doorframe is metal, consider gluing a magnet to the back of your mezuzah. By the way, a “real” case must be affixed at the top and bottom.
Not only is making mezuzot out of Lego fun, Jewish, useful and meaningful, it is educational. Math is involved here, as are spatial relations, shape and size discrimination, Hebrew and fine motor-skills. Playing with Lego can stretch your brain. You don’t need to tell this to your kid.
For more Jewish LEGO, enter Lego in the box in the far right sidebar, or click on the Tag “lego.” For more Jewish LEGO in general, as a teaching tool and Jewish toy, see my page: Jewish LEGO.
If you make your own LEGO mezuzah, upload a pic to the Bible Belt Balabusta facebook page, please. I’d love to see it.
Recommended Picture Book Reading: A Mezuzah on the Door, by Amy Melzter (P.J. Library selection)