Monday, November 21, 2011

The Sacred Duty of Answering the Phone

I carry a fancy touch-screen phone that doubles as a computer, mp3 player, camera and photo album, twitter machine, texting device, GPS, a movie screen.  It can set alarms for me and tell me where I am supposed to be 10 minutes from now on any given day, and probably do a dozen other things I haven't even found yet.  But for the past 10 days, my focus has been on the other phone in my pocket, the simple Cricket phone that only makes and receives phones.

The Cricket phone is full of love and it has been my sacred duty these past 10 days to take care of it.  The first day I saw the phone was when Fred was first in the hospital and the phone rang a few times.  He had 18 messages but had lost his glasses and couldn't see his phone.  With his permission, I listened to the messages, took notes, and helped him return the calls.  Fred had no idea how to save contacts or attach names to his contacts, so I took that on.  It was a nice way to pass the afternoon at the hospital.  "Freddie, who is this 616 number?"  "Oh she's a good friend named Dora.  Yeah, put Spanish for her name.  Did I ever tell you the time I ........ Yeah, that was Dora."  OK, Dora (Sp) Rodriquez is the 616 number.

Now who is this 457 number?  That turned out to be one of the old guys (75) who always needs Fred's help around the house.  (Fred was 82).  OK,  Do we know the old guy's name.  Ah yes, Gonzalo.  He speaks English or Spanish.  Got it.

The man who sings in Yiddish on his messages?  "Oh that's the reconstructionist rabbi, but you can talk to him in English.  It's OK."

Three hours later, we had the phone all sorted out and I had heard wonderful and nearly true accounts of their exploits with or without Fred.  One of the numbers was for the singer in his Yiddish Mariachi band, another belonged to the neighbor whose animals Fred loved to care for, but not at 4AM. I also got to hear about his mother and his grandmother, his father's experiences as a World War I veteran, the town of San Diego, TX, and I heard repeatedly about the devastation of his memories caused by the people who broke into his house in October.

ז״ל Fred Grant z"l
Then I went to home and later to work for the week, put the phone on the charger in the hospital room, and let  the nurse and other visitors know where it was.  Fred was doing fine, visiting with everyone who came by, and pretty much ignoring the fact that he owned a phone.  So I checked it again Tuesday morning and helped him return calls to his best friend, a lovely young lady who had once worked in his cardiologist's office, and we deleted a few messages.

Between Friday morning Nov 19th and Saturday of this week, his body began to shut down.  Organ failure, pneumonia, breathing tubes, the beginning of death.  I was there.  The phone rang and I answered it, mostly in Spanish but occasionally in English.  By 10AM Saturday, it was very clear that it would be his last day with us.  (I am not shomer-Shabbat and will gladly to for someone else what I would do for myself.)  In the ICU waiting room, I spent Saturday morning listening to a week's worth of messages and returning some of his 20 calls.  Two were in Yiddish, though we quickly switched to English when they heard the state of my Yiddish communication skills. Oy.  Two from organizations that didn't answer on the weekend, and about ten calls to his dear friends, telling them that today would most likely be the last chance to say goodbye.

And then, at 3:15 on Saturday, Freddie died.  The Yiddish, Mexican, German, Texas Caballero in tzitzit and a cowboy hat, flirting with girls and ladies everywhere and starting a conversation with anyone who would listen, carrying a Birnbaum Siddur wherever he went, he was gone.

Fred's body had died, but he still needed attending.  Somehow or other, I was the go-to-person for Jewish ritual. Which three psalms do we recite when we see he has died?  When do we cover him with a sheet?  Do we light a candle here or at the funeral home?

By this time, I now had a good list of Fred's phone contacts and had spent a whole listening to the phone messages he'd collected in the past week.  I started to return them yet again, and told everybody on the other end what the funeral arrangements were, how to find the cemetery and our section of it.  I gave everyone my number, but didn't turn off Fred's machine.

At the cemetary, I was easy to find.  The Jewish people in town knew who I was, and I had told all Fred's Mexican friends that I'd be the lady with the wheelchair, and they all introduced themselves.  Two other Spanish-speaking congregants helped me explain to them the differences between a Christian and a Jewish funeral, why the casket was closed, what language the singing was in, etc.

Thanksgiving and Sukkot

What could be more Jewish than surviving great difficulties and thanking God by having a large feast? Thanksgiving and sukkot may be a lot more related than you think.  My family's cornucopia was always made with exactly the same harvest decorations that we used for decorating the sukkah, but that is only the beginning.

 Here are some websites with good comparisons of the two holidays, and good explanations of why Thanksgiving is, indeed, a Jewish holiday.

There is a strong thread which runs from the Israelite wilderness experience to that of the Pilgrims and the harsh years they endured as they strove to sink roots in this new land. Like the ancient Israelites of whom they read in the Bible, they were people of great faith who believed themselves to be sustained through God's great mercy and beneficence. That they should rejoice and give thanks at harvest time was as natural an impulse for the Pilgrims as it was for the ancient Israelites.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi has written a special Thanksgiving prayer that can supplement the Birkat HaMazon. The English reads: "In the days of the Pilgrims, the Puritans, when they arrived at these safe shores, suffered hunger and cold. They sang and prayed to the Rock of their Salvation. And You, standing by them, roused the caring of the Natives for them: who fed them, turkey and corn and other delights. "Thus saved You them from starvation, and they learned the ways of peace with the inhabitants of the land. Therefore, feeling grateful, they dedicated a day of Thanksgiving each year as a remembrance for future generations, feeding unfortunates feasts of thanks. Thus do we thank You for all the good in our lives, God of kindness, Lord of Peace; thus do we thank You."
According to Rabbi Susan Grossman, the popularity of Thanksgiving among Jewish families should be of no suprise. In her blogpost, “Thanksgiving Is a Very Jewish Holiday,” Grossman says, “After Passover and Hanukkah, Thanksgiving is perhaps the most observed by American Jews.” Grossman points to the holiday’s intersection with core Jewish values as the reason for its popularity. “Thanksgiving, as in giving thanks, is a very Jewish thing to do,” she says. “According to tradition, Jews are to give thanks 100 times each day. We are to give thanks before we eat, for having food, and after we eat, for having been able to have food.” Another reason, she explains, is our Jewish history of immigration. “America has been good to the Jews,” she writes. “We have always lived here in relative safety. Our rights as a minority religion are protected by law and the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.”

And this is a wonderful new tradition you might want to consider: a short Thanksgiving Seder in which we bring the story of Thanksgiving right to the dinner table, just as we do on Passover, and in which we add specifically Jewish blessings to a meal of Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tying Tzitzit

My 7th graders at the reform temple got a chance to learn how to tie tzitzit today.  We were just practicing, so we didn't have kosher string, and we used brown for the shamash rather than techelet (blue) or white, but everything else was authentic.  They tied onto a key ring, and if this class is at all like the class I had three years ago, the key rings will stay on their backpacks through the next few years.

They can all sing the "vayomer" paragraph of shma, and kiss tzitzit at each mention, and they can answer these questions:

1)          What are tzitzit?
2)          What is the tzitzit commandment?
3)          Where in Torah does it come from?
4)          How is the tzitzit commandment different from some of the commandments God gave through Moses?
5)          What do tzitzit remind us of?
6)          What’s the name of the prayer that includes tzitzit? 
7)          Which paragraph is this?
8)          Why did the reform movement stop saying this prayer for 100+ years?
9)          Why was it added back in?
10)    Which section of the service includes this prayer?
11)    What color did tzitzit used to have?
12)    Why did they stop using the color?
13)    How many times do we kiss the tzitzit during the prayer?
14)    What is the name of the longest string we use when wrapping and then tying the knots for the tzitzit?
15)    Where else have you heard that word?
16)    In class, did we learn the Sephardic or Ashkenazi way to wrap tzitzit? Why?
17)    What do you like about tzitzit?  Are they a reminder?  Do you think you’ll like wearing them when you’re an adult? 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Typical Day in Hebrew School

Our first verse of Torah happens to be THE first verse of Torah.  Some of us can read the Hebrew, but some just now how to read the English and illustrate the first week of creation.

We have our first spelling word.  We know the letters and the vowels, we know where to put the dots, and we know how to draw three things that go with "Shabbat."

We take turns practicing our letters, vowels and words on the computer.

After so much learning, we need a break!  A healthy snack and 10 minutes on the playground.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sh'ma in Papua, New Guinea

I am Jewish.  Big surprise, eh?  OK, maybe not, but I feel the need to specify that before I tell you that you should watch this video of non-Jews in Papua, New Guinea singing שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל with as much kavannah as any Jewish worshippers I've ever prayed with.  Fewer clothes, but equal intensity.

So, via The Schmooze:

Video: Hebrew Prayer in Papua New Guinea

By Renee Ghert-Zand

At this point, the Shmooze is used to seeing videos posted on social networking sites of cute little Hebrew school or Jewish day school children reciting the Sh’ma. But this Sh’ma video spotted and published by Israel National News the other day is quite unusual. You will not see little ones dressed in blue and white or their Shabbat best, but rather people of Papua New Guinea in their native dress reciting — in Hebrew — the central creed of Judaism.
It turns out these are Christians who have been taught, presumably by missionaries, to recite the Sh’ma to demonstrate their love and respect for Christianity’s Jewish roots. The video appears to have been shot by Yakov Damkani, a Messianic Jew.
Watch Papua New Guineans Recite the Sh’ma:

Read more:

h/t Dorron Katzin 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lech Lecha Observations by my students

We read this Lech Lecha book yesterday in our children's service and talked about the parsha.  A first grader observed, "Isn't it good that Hashem picked a night when it wasn't cloudy? It would be so sad if Avram went out to count the stars and he couldn't see them."

Her classmate replied, "Yeah. And it's good Avram didn't need glasses cause they hadn't been created yet.  What if he went outside and the whole sky was blurry and he couldn't see the stars."

Third classmate: "Yeah, silly.  But if Avram needed glasses and didn't have them, maybe Hashem would just make him count something he could see."

OK, whose rabbi gave a more thought-provoking dvar?  Or asked more inspiring questions?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Definition of the word DISDAIN

I had a chat with my religious school kiddos today (conservative synagogue,six conservative girls and two orthodox girls) about the difference between Jewish holidays, secular holidays, and holidays from other religions.  And now I know the definition of "disdain".


 noun \dis-ˈdān\   The tone of voice with which a Jewish 3rd grader explains to other Jewish kids how Christian kids get presents on Christmas, and they think they come from some fat guy named Santa Claus!
Who even knew that an eight-year-old could roll her eyes!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Simchat Torah Handouts

Lots of handouts and activities here.  Hope everyone has a WONDERFUL Simchat Torah!

Getting ready for Simchat Torah!

They were too busy drawing and writing about their favorite Torah stories to pause long enough to spell the word תּוֹרָה‎‎, but they did manage to come up with the correct spelling and hold it up almost long enough for me to get a photo. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sukkah is Ready!

After work today, I went over to the shul to hang the sukkah decorations. One of the moms took our Ushpizin welcome signs and the lulav/etrog poster to the local teacher store and got them laminated, and then I hung everything today.

This is the first time in 12 yrs that I am physically able to get up on a stool and hang things, which is wonderful and amazing.

One of these years, maybe I will again live somewhere that I can put up a sukkah at home.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sukkot Preparations 2011

Click to see my students creating edible sukkot, inviting the ushpizim to join us in our sukkah, and learning all about Sukkot.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Preparing for Sukkot

There are tons of sukkot books out there for early elementary school kids, but I am having trouble finding materials to use with the 9 yr old plus crowd.  Trying this one out.  Also making sukkot decorations, learning about lulav and etrog, etc.  The holiday parade continues.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Jonah Lessons!

Powerpoint presentation is here:

And then our crafts project is here:

For the craft project:
What's Jonah doing in there?  Draw a picture to put inside.  
On the back of the whale, have Jonah explain what happened in his life this week.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

How to have an Aliyah to the Torah

This particular video on how to have an aliyah is special for two reasons:
1) The hazzan in the film is a good friend and former colleague of mine.
2) The Bar Mitzvah boy is a puppet.  If I had to guess, I might suspect that he is even a distant cousin of one of my purim puppet play characters.

On a more serious note, I prefer the screen text to be more Hebrew for students to use, and less puppet-centered for adults, but it's still one of my new favorite teaching tools.  Thanks Harold!

A Jewish Girl reflects on her Adoption and on the children of Torah

This D’Var Torah was written by a 14 yr old Jewish girl, adopted into a Jewish family after three years in foster care.  The adoption was finalized last week, the morning before Rosh Hashanah.  The newly adopted girl went to mikvah, changed her Hebrew name to match her new mother’s and gave this D’Var Torah to her Jewish Community.
For purposes of publication, the location has been removed, the names have been changed, but the love remains intact from the first draft to the final..
My First Dvar Torah of My New Life

Tonight and tomorrow we will read prayers that talk about God as our Father.  Avinu Malkeinu.  God is my king and my father, but today I have a new mother and a new brother.  Becca is too old to be adopted in a courtroom, but she and I both consider Deborah our mom.  We even invented a new word.  Imanu Debreinu.  Our ima, our Debbie.  A real parent right here on Earth.

The Torah readings for Rosh Hashanah are all about parents and kids. Even the haftarah talks about a mom who wants a child, and about how someone else makes fun of her because she doesn’t have one yet. Her name is Hannah, and she eventually gets a son, but she can only raise him the first few years.   God doesn’t zap the woman who was teasing her about being childless, and maybe that is OK. 

Having kids is important, but so is treating them right.  In Torah, people are always wanting sons, but Debbie is happy to have us as daughters, and that may be even better.  

        Back to Torah.  Sarah wants a son, but she doesn’t think she will have one.  Abraham has to choose between his first family (Hagar and Ishmael) and his second family (Sarah and Isaac), and ends up making his first family leave with only a bottle of water and some food. In my opinion this is not good parenting. I think that God told Abraham to listen to Sarah and send Hagar and Ishmael away, but God should have also made him send them with enough food and water for a whole journey.  Abraham is always sending his servents and camels to do errands and keep people company. He had extra people to help with the akeida story. With Ishmael, should have sent someone to see that his oldest son got safely somewhere else.  Maybe he should have even gone himself, get them settled, and then go back to Sarah and Isaac.  He should have been a dad to both of them.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Sweet Year We Want to Have

Today, my religious school students planned, discussed, wrote, and drew all the sweet things they want to bring with them into the new year.  The things they want to learn, the things they want to improve, the way they want to be.  Here's a sample, from students from kindergarten to third grade:

  • Leren to climb a Tree
  • Learn to write Hebrew
  • Learning to read
  • I want to start being more helpful.
  • Beter at blowing the shofar
  • Life.
  • happy, nice, love
  • Being nice to my sister,
  • I wan to blow the shofar.
  • Beter at cleaning my room.

From Blogger Pictures
Next week, when we take a tashlich field trip to the closest pond, we will talk more about all the angers, mistakes and mean things from the past year that we are ready to throw away.

Reflections on Rosh Hashanah - Firsts and Lasts

My son is 17 and a senior in HS, and this is most probably his last Rosh Hashanah living at home.  Many years it has just been the two of us, and usually I try to see if friends will invite us for holiday meals, especially if I am working the day before a holiday begins, but this year I decided to cook a feast for us on Wednesday evening and enjoy our last Rosh Hashanah as a family.  Yes, there are others in the family this year (a completely different and wonderful story that I may post next week), but this is HIS last year living at home.  I think.  Seems like many adults move back home after college or early in their careers, but I am anticipating each holiday this year as being his last at home.

Some recollections:

My son was a very sick baby and was not allowed to eat raw honey until age 6 or 7 because his intestines were a wreck.  (So were his lungs and his heart.)  So we started a family tradition of dipping our apple slices into chocolate sauce for a sweet new year.

He was 18 months old the first time he ate a brownie, at a Rosh Hashanah meal with me, his dad, both sets of grandparents, a few aunts and uncles, and two cousins.  After the first bite of brownie, he exclaimed "Mowa Cake!"  His first two word phrase, and a great occasion for it.

Two years later, when he was 3½, my son said motzi for us all at our Rosh Hashanah dinner.  Almost as proud moment as hearing him say "More Cake!"

At six he wanted me to make him a kittel just Daddy's.  I said no but let him buy a white tie and white pants to go with his white shirt.

At nine, he mastered the notes of the shofar.

At age 13, he chanted the 5th aliyah from the Torah using the high holiday melody.  On the same day, He saw me cry for the first time in public on the second day of Rosh Hashanah.  A difficult story, for another day.

Last year, after he became vegetarian, I brought him to a friend's house for Rosh Hashanah dinner, and made a vegan casserole as part of our contribution to the potluck meal.  My friend served chicken, turkey meatballs, and beef, and we passed the dishes around the table.  As he held the tray the family grandmother to serve herself meat, I remember saying a silent plea, "Please, just don't say anything about dead animals. Please just let her take the food without you commenting."  And he did.  A sign of great maturity.  At home, I would have gotten a lecture on the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle.

This year, my son and his girlfriend are both vegan, and I am preparing a vegan family feast to rival no other. I anticipate that we will also have other things to celebrate on Wenesday, but for now I am content to still have my son at home, even if we are back to dipping our apples in chocolate sauce instead of honey.

May you all have a very sweet new year!

שנה טובה

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mourning a Kiddush Cup, but only briefly

People matter. Things matter so much less than people. My people are doing well, cramming for exams, living the lives.

I am not a things person, but I am so sad at losing my favorite kiddush cup. I took a picture to remember it.

This lovely cup was handcrafted cup made by a local artist. One of my very first Bar Mitzvah students bought it for me to give as a gift thanking me for helping him get through the bar mitzvah,

Do I tell the young man? Ask his parents the name of the artist and get a new one? Or do I simply Use the less-pretty and less-meaningful kiddush cups I still have,

Rosh Hashanah Instructional Resources

These are the materials I'll be using in classes this week (starting in 8 hours! yikes!).  Teacher friends --- feel free to borrow, and if you have any additions, please post them in the comments.


Friday, September 23, 2011

How does a good Jewish girl get herself in places like this?

In past years, I've worked in many schools in which Mexicans were the largest non-US group represented, and I've had classes that were largely Nepali or more Koreans than any other group, but there is something special in this adult ESL school. (For more on how I ended up working at this school, read this.) Not only are the Saudi students well over half if students in the college-prep program, they are also hear on a very well-defined, clear sense that they have two goals: they are here to study and learn and complete a degree and make professional connections that will help them with their careers back home; but equally important is their task to get to know Americans and other international students, while always being an excellent representative of their own culture. They are mini-ambassadors and they take that task seriously.
  How does a good Jewish girl end up attending propoganda events in honor of Saudi Arabia, and in awe and reference for King Abdullah. How does a good Jewish girl celebrate Saudi National Holiday? Well, I suppose theanswr is that I am a teacher. In a school that honors the tradtions and cultures of the students and staff.  As all schools should do. What am I doing there? I am a language teacher, a teacher who believes in multiculturalism and national pride, a teacher who loves seeing students in native dress and learning why some of the students wear white scarves while others where a red and white pattern. I am equally curious about the black silk ropes that sit above their heads, but what I noted most this afternoon was how quietly proud they all were.  They are creating their own community celebrations, and inviting the rest of us to learn and celebrate with the, I'm a good Jewish girl celebrating the culture of my students, and using what I learn about my global neighbors to help me understand my own Judaism and my Americanism through new eyes. 


Now what am I going to do with all these green banners and flags?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Danced!!!!!!!!!!!!!

image via
For those who don't know, I have been disabled to one degree or another for the past twelve years.  I've used canes daily the entire time, but have also spent great amounts of time in both a manual and a power wheelchair. I had surgery to repair 3 levels of my spine this past May, and have been walking and swimming well since June.  After surgery, I had to come up with a 3 month goal and a 6 month goal.  My 3 month goal was to dance.

I still use canes on stairs or when I am carrying my laptop or anything else of significant weight, but I have also been moving better and was given permission this month to exercise and stretch in new directions, and permission to dance.  Not wheelchair dancing. Not sitting and clapping while everyone else moved.  Not even dancing with crutches.  Dancing.

Today I danced!  I taught my 7th graders at Beth Shalom how to dance the Hora for all the Bar & Bat Mitzvah parties, and I danced with them!  Before we started, I honestly didn't know how well it would go, or even if I would fall.  I didn't fall.  I danced and danced and taught them how to celebrate in a Jewish way.  I danced.

Huge, huge thanks to God and my doctors.  My gratitude is overwhelmed only by my joy.

I am crying such tears of joy as I write this.  Honestly, you have no idea how much I have missed dancing.

I am only sorry that I didn't ask someone to photograph or take video or the event, but that just means I have to do it again.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

First Day of a Brand New School

After more than 10 years, Beth El now has a weekday Hebrew school class for early elementary school children, and I was honored to teach the very first class this afternoon. What an awesome experience!
 We started the same way my great grandparents began their Hebrew studies --- by eating letters of the alef-bet in honey! We also sounded the shofar, explored our brand-new student Torah scroll, watched the workers begin to install the new chairs in the freshly-painted classroom, and learned to sing two new prayers. We had a great discussion about Rosh Hashanah and whether or not God has a birthday.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Video:The Torah Service at Beth El

Here's the youtube for the Beginning of the Torah Service, as sung at Congregation Beth El in Austin, TX.  Enjoy!

This is the Torah blessing video:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What does it mean?

I was working with a student today on the Torah blessings today and asked her why she thought the Torah blessing uses both present tense (God gives us Torah) and the past tense (God gave us the Torah).  She gave an answer I hadn't heard before for why the present tense is included:

"Because he hasn't taken it away from us."

I learn so much from my students!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

iJewish is a good way to practice and have fun over the summer

I have an iPhone stuffed to the guffilte gills with audio for the Saturday morning prayers for three synagogues, siddur pages for two or three, information about the prayers, photos of ritual objects and biblical dress, tents and musical instruments, and GAMES.  Did I neglect to mention the games??

All of the Jewish publishers havemany apps and programs, but Behrman house has the best.  Here are the iPhone and iPad games for students, and I have them all.  Scroll through the adult stuff and the fun ones will appear near bottom.

This year I found a new food-sorting game for Passover, with a truck theme.  And an entire haggadah (with sounds and sound effects) for the iPad.  Add Little Scribes and Mash Passover for the little ones.  There's also a Mitzvah Match app which kids of many ages may enjoy.

Looking for something to teach basic Hebrew and simple prayers?  Start with these from Behrman House.  They also have full versions for the computer.

Babaganewz has great online resources, offline and online games for Jewish kids from the tweens until high school, but I haven't yet seen anything there for smart phones.They also have craft and recipe ideas and a focus on values.

TorahAura has a great selection of non-technological Jewish fun activities for kids, in case you decide that you need to see your own phone or computer even while the kids are awake.

Morim has lots of online practice for Torah stories and simple Hebrew vocabulary, and the kids seem to like the activities.
Davka has some fun stuff as well:

Alef Bet Schoolhouse for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad

Alef Bet Schoolhouse teaches the Hebrew alphabet with with sound, color, animation and fun!



A golden yad?

My sixth graders had an interesting discussion recently about why the Torah scoll's yad is silver rather than gold. We talked about beautifying a mitzvah and looked at some of the other "fancy" ritual objects around us.  Would we want a gold yad though? Great arguments for an against.  Let's have some discussion here.  Would a gold yad be practical? Would it be preferable to a silver yad? Why or why not?  Think it through in the comments and I'll tell you what my students decided at the end of the week.

Check out my Google Plus profile!

Hi all,

Are you on G+? I've got a new google plus profile.  Click here to view it, or add me into one of your circles.


my google plus profile as of this morning

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Photos from a Student's Bat Mitzvah in Israel

One of my students had the fabulous opportunity to become Bat Mitzvah in Jerusalem, at Robinson's Arch. I taught her the prayers and her Torah reading here, and worked with her on her speech, but then they took it on the road/plane. I also helped her mom design the siddur that she used, and choose some of the English readings.

Audio file for weekday Torah service (Reform)

Just got my son to sit record the Shabbat melodies (the ones you're familiar with!) for the Reform version (from Mishkan T'filah) of the weekday Torah service.  Enjoy!

Click here to listen or download.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Prayer Dare

This was a game my class created (in place of a quiz) to see how much their classmates knew about the prayers & vocab we studied. Each index card is numbered on the back, and they rolled dice & chose next card from that pile.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Making Havdalah Candles

(Guest post authored by David, who was 11 at the time.)

Two weeks ago, Betsy and one of the 6th grade Beth El students were learning about havdalah and its blessings, so we decided to make havdalah candles.

At-home Service for  Havdalah

After several epic failures involving a toaster oven, hot wax and cigarette lighters, we were finally able to make several four-braid and four-twist havdallah candles.  To save other people from having to repeat our finger pains and mistakes, we decided to publish a simple how-to guide.

How to Make Havdalah Candles without Burning Down Your Kitchen

  • Assemble all materials:
    • a box of chanukah candles (including extras in case you make mistakes)
    • a source of boiling water
    • a disposable bowl
    • paper towels
    • matches or a lighter
    • a disposable fork
  • Boil water.

Sunday, June 5, 2011