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May 21 2012

Mt. Sinai Muffins, Origami 10 Commandments & More Shavuot Crafts

By at 12:12 pm

The focus around Shavuot is often on the dairy products: cheesecake, blintzes, and kugel. But it’s fun to change it up with a few springtime crafts. We’ve found some of our favorites to share with you (and check out our Pinterest board for a few more ideas, too).

One of our more popular crafts here on Kveller are these Mount Sinai muffins–an edible craft. They’re simple to make, super-fun to decorate with kids, and a great way to start a conversation about the holiday (for more on that, click here). And did we mention that they taste good, too?

Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 6 2012

Happy Passover!

By at 12:37 pm

Pesach starts tonight and we wanted to take a moment to wish you a happy holiday. This festival of unleavened bread is one of the most celebrated holidays of the Jewish year, so get out there and have at it! And when you’re looking in the fridge later this week, wondering what to eat, don’t forget to come back and check out our recipes. Or if your kids are making you crazy, set them up with a craft or two.

And don’t forget–even though this is one of those holidays that comes with lots of stress (cleaning, cleaning, cleaning)–it’s still about being together with family and friends and celebrating that. So enjoy!

Chag sameach!

Apr 2 2012

Passover Fun for the Kids: It’s Raining FROGS!

By at 2:02 pm

You too can have sticky frogs to entertain the kids at your seder.

If you’re inviting children to your seder, it’s always nice to have a few fun things planned for them. Sure we all love belting out all eleven verses of Chad Gadya at the top of our lungs (anybody?) but it is a long meal with lots of adult talking going on. Last year our friends hosted a seder and had adorable plague masks for the children to pick out and wear. It was a great addition that made the meal more kid-friendly.

This year I came up with a little favor for the kids at your Passover table. And for less than $1 per child it provides endless entertainment. Read the rest of this entry →

Passover Crafting

By at 9:45 am

Though I love to look at other people’s crafts, I myself am not exactly a crafty person. But I thought that perhaps you, like me, might want to check out some of the cool stuff that people are planning for Passover. (If you haven’t yet seen our Kveller Crafts Pinterest board, you might want to stop there too!)

First stop is the gorgeous afikomen cover here on Kveller. It’ll add a special twist to your matzah hunt.

We also think that this recycled seder plate is a great activity. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 5 2012

Awesome Purim Crafts

By at 9:53 am

Purim is one of those Jewish holidays that lends itself so easily to crafting. From making mishloach manot (goody bags) to groggers (noisemakers) to costumes, there’s just so much to do. We’ve collected some of our favorite crafts for you to check out below–enjoy, and get crackin!

Here at Kveller, we have an environmentally-friendly grogger (repurposed from your recycle bin) as well as some great Purim cards, no-sew costumes, and mishloach manot ideas. And did we mention our adorable miniature Purim dolls from Meredith Jacobs?

We also really love this grogger from Creative Jewish Mom. She uses cups, some electrical tape, and other fun stuff to turn something simple into something festive. And that Purim grogger can easily be a music-making maraca during the rest of the year!


The Upper West Side Mom has a great way to reuse those clementine crates we’ve all been collecting throughout the winter. She turns them into a mishloach manot container! Now, you definitely have to fill this with a LOT of snacks, but for a good friend, it’s a perfect Purim gift.

And in case creating a recycled mishloach manot container wasn’t enough for you, Joanna Brichetto at Bible Belt Balabusta takes it even a step further–by creating an edible container out of pretzel dough! Fun to make and delicious too.

What other crafts are out there? What did we miss? Share them below!

Feb 8 2012

Fun Stuff to Do on Tu Bishvat

By at 10:34 am

Tree of LifeSo you’re looking for a way to celebrate Tu Bishvat with your kids? Don’t feel like just drawing a tree on paper and sticking it up on the wall? Well, you’re in luck. We’ve done some research and found some of the best Tu Bishvat crafts out there. Read on…

1. Here at Kveller, we have some fun tree-based crafts. If you haven’t seen this amazing Tree of Life wall hanging that’s made out of recycled toilet paper rolls, check it out above. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 19 2011

DIY Style for Hanukkah

By at 10:05 am

I think age 4 was the last time I enjoyed the whole DIY thing.

I’m not crafty. I’m so not crafty that when I bought some cute Hanukkah stamps for my daughter and we used them together to make a card for her great-grandma, I was pretty darned proud of myself. Luckily for me (and any of you like me out there) there are solutions for this. The internet is filled with amazing recipes, crafts, and decor to make your Hanukkah the best ever. Here are some of my favorites…

Decor:

Over at Matzo Ball Soup, Tali Buchler made these gorgeous Star of David decorations. Might be better to do with slightly older children, but it’s a great way to reuse aluminum containers. (And if you’ve missed Tali’s amazing projects on Kveller, check them out here.)

I was very impressed with this Hanukkah tablescape at Frog Prince Paperie–and for you non-DIY-ers out there, you can just order the printables on their site, follow some instructions, and you too have a gorgeous Hanukkah display!

Crafts:

If you haven’t already checked out the make-your-own menorah here on Kveller, here’s your chance. It’s a far cry from the one you might have made in Hebrew school with some plywood and a few bolts.

I absolutely adore the recycling that Creative Jewish Mom did to make her Hanukkah menorah out of toilet paper tubes. Amazing! But don’t light this one on fire, folks–it’s just to look at.

Joanna at Bible Belt Balabusta is truly gifted at creating edible, holiday-themed snacks, and she’s done it again with these edible dreidels. Just a few candy-based household ingredients and you too can have a lot of fun–and a sugar rush–with your kids. (She also has an impressive PVC menorah that you simply have to check out.)

Recipes:

Speaking of food, did you see our newest additions to the Hanukkah menu? This year, skip the plain old jelly doughnuts–make Hanukkah beignets! These gorgeous, fluffy puffs will make you think you’re in New Orleans, sipping coffee at Cafe du Mond.

And as it turns out–Hanukkah isn’t just about fried food (who knew?!) Cheese is actually a traditional ingredient on Hanukkah, so try out these cheese latkes, eggplant, mushroom, and tomato gratin, and baked goat cheese dessert. You’ll be asking for seconds before you know it.

My final find is a decoration, art project, and recipe all in one–this cupcake menorah over at the Shiksa in the Kitchen. It’s gorgeous and looks absolutely delicious.

But I know this list isn’t exhaustive… what else did I miss out there?

Oct 19 2011

This is the Torah

By at 1:25 pm

Oh, Simchat Torah. You’re the very end of a long holiday season. You’re at the end of Sukkot. You’re after Shemini Atzeret, the holiday almost impossible to define in less than 8 sentences. And you are known colloquially as “the holiday about the Torah.” That’s not doing you justice.

Simchat Torah marks the end of a full cycle of reading the Torah in the Jewish year. It is a religious yom tov (holiday) that is celebrated by dancing with the Torah in synagogue. The dancing is done in circles or hakafot, and the seven hakafot we participate in each feature songs, chants, and, quite often, increasing levels of a mystical power.

As a child, I attended a large Reform synagogue on Hollywood Boulevard, and they used to hire cops to shut down the street so that we could literally dance in the street. We received small Torahs, and since I was a giant nerd who loved Israeli folk dancing, I especially loved this holiday.

Now that I am a mom of two young boys and now that I have taken on more observance, Simchat Torah has religious implications to be considered in accordance with the halacha (Jewish law) I seek to hold to. And it’s also upon me to find ways to teach the significance of a holiday to my sons. It’s not easy to teach about the Torah in language I find appropriate for a 3- and 6-year-old, but here’s what I’ve got:

1) The Torah is Wise. Not all old things are wise, but the Torah is old and it is very wise. It has all of the instructions we need to figure out how to have families, how to be happy, and how to deal with problems in our family and our world. The Torah was written a long, long time ago, but that doesn’t mean it can’t help us understand our lives now. That’s what it means for something to be really wise. It applies to people over thousands and thousands of years.

2) The Torah is Divine. Without getting too far into the details of my personal theology, our sons know that there is something called HaShem (God). It’s not a person, but it has power. HaShem is in every single thing we do, see, feel, hear, taste, and know. HaShem is in our bodies and our hearts and HaShem is in charge of the world in ways we can’t even understand or imagine. HaShem “wrote” the Torah, not with hands (because HaShem has no hands), but by teaching and inspiring and talking to people thousands of years ago, especially Moses who was super in touch with HaShem. The Torah is incredibly special because HaShem made it all happen.

3) The Torah is Precious. When the aron hakodesh (ark that holds the Torah) is opened in synagogue, we stand up right away to show respect. That’s the way we show how special the Torah is. We should feel like we are seeing a flower opening up or like a newborn baby is smiling at us every time we look at the Torah. We can’t be rough with it, and we don’t want anyone to be mean to it or touch it with their toddler jam hands, and for sure we don’t want to drop it. (“How many days do you have to fast if you drop it, Mama?” my older son likes to ask. “600 years?” “Not quite, Miles, but we really don’t want to drop it nonetheless.” ) We kiss the Torah because it is a special thing we love and feel very, very close to it. There is nothing like the Torah, nothing we hold quite so special and precious. It’s like the best present ever.

We did a little arts and crafts project recently to make our own tiny Torahs:

-String a piece of 2 or 3 inch wide paper (as long as you want) between two toothpicks with scotch tape. We like to do this with fancy cocktail-style toothpicks so it looks like wooden handles or finials on the Torah, and I use grainy paper so it looks like parchment.
-Roll it up and tie it with a pretty ribbon or even just a rubber band. I had an old maroon velvet tablecloth in the house that I poked two holes in for the finials to stick through, and voila: Torah cover.
-On the parchment, we write our sons’ names in Hebrew.

“This is your Torah,” I tell them.

And it’s true.

The wisdom, Divinity, and preciousness of the whole Jewish people is in the Torah and we can access it any time we want to.

This is our Torah. Chag Sameach!

Sukkot Ain’t Over Yet

By at 11:44 am

This totally happened to the box of tissues in my house the other day.

Personally, I’m a fan of celebrating holidays as much as I can. Sukkot is usually one of them–though we have no outdoor space to build a sukkah, I try to find my way into someone else’s. Or do some fall baking, or something like that. But this year–well, all of the members of my household have colds. And Sukkot–a holiday where you celebrate by being outdoors in a hut–doesn’t go so well when you’re sneezing and coughing all over each other.

So we’re doing Sukkot a bit late–and in our own style. My daughter and I are going to celebrate the end of Sukkot with this delicious edible sukkah craft. All you need are crackers, cream cheese, carrot sticks, and some cherry tomatoes. Since my 2-year-old will only eat the crackers and cream cheese, I’ll be left to eat the vegetables on my own. But it’s cool–because we’ll be spending time together and learning something,  too.

(If you’re not feeling like doing Sukkot–try this edible turkey Torah craft for Simchat Torah! We’re big on eating our crafts these days.)

Chag sameach–a happy holiday!

Aug 23 2011

Getting Crafty, With a Purpose

By at 2:51 pm

Yarn art for Rosh Hashanah.

My 9-month-old son is way too young for real arts and crafts projects. He’s still at the point where everything goes into his mouth, and I don’t fully trust Crayola’s non-toxic claim.

But as a former first grade Hebrew school teacher, I’ve been doing Jewish crafts with young kids for years. Pillbox mezuzahs. Driedel mobiles. Stained glass kiddish cups. Graham cracker sukkahs. Been there, done that.

One of the most important things I tried to keep in mind when creating these crafts was connecting the activity with the object we’re making. Using crayons to color candlestick holders allows you to teach that wax makes up both crayons and the candles. Kveller’s apple-print placemat is a classic way to incorporate the sweet fruit eaten on Rosh Hashanah with the blessings used on the holiday.

But for me, it goes deeper– to the intention that lies with what we create with our children. You can glitter, bedazzle, and paint a wooden cup all you want. But if It never leaves the shelf (or pile of arts and crafts projects), how do you know it’s a kiddush cup? Conversely, if an old sippy cup gets some grape juice occasionally on a Friday night, is it not a kiddush cup? What about decorating it to incorporate the idea of hiddur mitzvah, making our observances beautiful?

Ritual objects are simply what their name suggests: objects that have a ritual associated with them. A challah cover is only as good as the bread beneath it. A kippah is only as attractive as the smile on the head under it.

Craft projects don’t need to be fancy and they don’t need to be made out of expensive supplies from Michael’s. And sometimes we color just for the sake of coloring.

But we’re doing something special when we create together with our children with a little intention. Doing with a purpose–that’s Judaism in a nutshell.

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