The “Fruity & Nutty” Jewish Holiday – Tu BiSh’vat

Celetrate Tu BiSh'evat

Ah, the almond tree in Israel. In bloom again. Time for Tu BiSh’vat, the New Year of the Trees. (Sorry - this isn't an almond blossom, but you get the idea.) To get you in the spirit, read these lines from Rabbi Vicki Hollander’s lyrical “Ode to the Moon of Sh’vat.” (It’s definitely worth clicking on the link to read the rest of it.) And as the full moon rises, on the 15th day of Sh’vat, so comes her holy day, Tu BiSh’vat, the new year of the trees. When according to legend, that very night, the moon pulls and sap stirs within the trees, rising upwards. Full of Possibility Tu … [Read more...]

Hanukkah DIY Gifts

A great gift to give your children is to encourage them to create presents for friends and family, instead of buying them. Think simple, loving, homemade. Hanukkah starts on Saturday, December 24th. Here are three ideas: Goodies in Glass Jars  If you save jelly jars, you’re in luck. Or you can pick some jars up at a hobby store. Depending on their size and shape, fill them with: Mixed candies Hot cocoa mix Honey Individual spices (e.g., cinnamon sticks or bay leaves) Spice mix (with recipe ideas that go with that kind of spice mix) One year, a friend gave me ingredients to … [Read more...]

Hanukkah Themed Nights

Hanukkah games

In our family, we want to tone down any hint of mad gift-giving at Hanukkah. We failed a bit last year, so we’re rethinking for this year. Hanukkah starts Saturday, December 24th.  Our daughter is now contemplating how to do themed nights, where the presents lead to family fun activities – focusing on togetherness vs. on getting loot. Since we are a games-loving group, this should be very doable. Calendar Night It is my tradition to create personalized calendars for our little boys. So we will plan a calendar night, where the calendars will be that night’s presents. To expand the calendar … [Read more...]

Hanukkah Fun Buys

Looking to jazz up your home for Hanukkah? Here are a few pieces of Judaica that make me smile. The first candle of Hanukkah is Saturday, December 24th. Pop Art Dreidels  I discovered Rabbi Yitzchok Moully’s pop art collection at a recent URJ convention. What struck me immediately is the strong use of bold, vibrant colors. Several of the pieces are specifically holiday-themed, including the dreidel art (with a stack of gelt in the lower right-hand corner), hamentashen art (with one bagel half in the lower right-hand corner!), and apple art (with honey in the lower right-hand … [Read more...]

With Apologies to Sammy Spider

Jewish holiday

Our local public library is doing a program about the Jewish high holidays. And they didn’t have any recent books about Rosh Hashanah for children, so I purchased several – to share with them and to share with you over the next few weeks. I have to admit – I’d never read the Sammy Spider books, and I had a preconceived notion of what they might be. I was so wrong. “Sammy Spider’s First Rosh Hashanah,” written by Sylvia Rouss and illustrated by Katherine Kahn, is charming. I bought the large paperback, so the illustrations have lots of real estate to show their bright, showy, happy … [Read more...]