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Jan 22 2013

Free Stuff Alert: Gus on the Go Hebrew App

By at 3:04 pm

gus on the go hebrew app israel

Working on raising brilliant bilingual kids? Luckily, the power to learn new languages these days is right at your fingertips. Gus on the Go is a language learning app for kids that features a cute little owl and a whole lot of fun adventures and games.

Gus on the Go features a special Hebrew edition that introduces basic Hebrew nouns to young children through fun pictures, interactive games, and audio from native Hebrew speakers. Gus on the Go: Hebrew is currently available for the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, and we’ve got five free promo codes to give away to five lucky readers. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 19 2012

Free Stuff Alert: AlephBet Hebrew App Giveaway

By at 9:33 am

aleph bet appRemember all those times we’ve talked about how great it is to raise bilingual children but how actually teaching them another language is, well, kind of hard? Well, we’re happy to report that if you’ve been wanting to teach your young ones some Hebrew basics, there’s an app for that.

The AlephBet App provides young children and their parents the ability to learn the Aleph Bet in an interactive and engaging way. Designed for young children, The AlephBet App is the first app to be recommended by the Jewish Montessori Society and offers parents and kids the opportunity for on demand learning. Featuring nearly 50 custom hand drawn illustrations, and the original song “Rakevet Alef Bet” by Dafna, The AlephBet App offers a sensory rich multimedia experience guaranteed to tempt even the most reluctant readers.

The app usually goes for $1.99 in the Apple Store, but for today only, it will be completely FREE for Kveller readers.

To get the app for your iPhone, click here. And to get it for your iPad, click here.

It’s as simple as that! Remember, this offer is valid for TODAY ONLY (Dec. 19, 2012). For more information, visit the AlephBet website here. Happy learning!

Nov 15 2012

My Son is (Finally) Learning Hebrew

By at 5:03 pm

I have to admit to feeling a rush of pride and satisfaction each time I hear my son call me Ima. And, for a gal who grew up begrudgingly bilingual, that’s a pretty big deal.

My first languages as a young child were English and Hebrew. With an Israeli father (and grandfather, grandmother, uncle, aunt, cousins… you get the picture) and a mother who spent a chunk of her young adulthood in Israel, it should come as no big surprise that we were a bilingual house. My first words were “mom” and “aba.” I listened equally to Rafi and Tzippi Shavit, and my eyes were glued to both Sesame Street and Rehov Sumsum (and yes, I even had my own pair of brown, checkered slippers like Kippi).

But for some reason, instead of embracing this language gift I had been given, at some point in my childhood, I started to actively be embarrassed by it. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 3 2012

How to Name a Child

By at 12:12 pm
Tamara Reese's Baby

Naming a Jewish child comes with much responsibility

Naming another human being is a tremendous obligation.

It is the first of many duties of a parent and the name you choose will grace your child from the moment they are born. It is how you as parents will come to know your baby and how his friends will eventually call to him on the playground.

Naming a Jewish child comes with added responsibility. A boy’s Hebrew name will be spoken by his parents during prayer and blessing. It is the name by which he will be called by the Rabbi to the bimah on his Bar Mitzvah and the one his wife will lovingly commit to under the chuppah. And, God wiling, after a long, fruitful life, that same name will be whispered in Yahrzeit by his children and grandchildren.

One of the main sources of inspiration we use when naming our children, for both their Hebrew and English (secular) names, is a family tree. My husband and I both come from diverse backgrounds and we feel compelled to give our children meaningful names that reflect what we have passed on both historically and genetically. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 9 2012

Hebrew for Tots

By at 2:47 pm

keshetot congregation beth elohim brooklynLooking for a fun way to add some Israeli flair into your kids’ lives? If you’re in the New York area, head over to Brooklyn and check out Keshetot, an innovative music, story, art, and movement program for infants and toddlers. It’s run by Israeli teachers and conducted exclusively in Hebrew, making it a great way for both you and your little ones to learn a little Hebrew and more about the Israeli culture. The program is for both non-Hebrew and Hebrew-speaking families, and is funded in part by the UJA Federation of New York.

Interested? Check out this video to get an exclusive look at what happens at Keshetot:

Keshetot meets at Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The fall semester, which consists of 10 sessions every other Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 12 p.m., begins on September 23rd and runs through January 13, 2013. The price is $300 for families with one child and $350 for families with more than one child.

For registration and more details please contact:, 718-768-3814 ext 245.

Apr 24 2012

Giveaway: Baby Nursery Decor

By at 4:39 pm
Matan in Hebrew

The name "Matan" in Hebrew. Get your child's name for your nursery.

They call it nesting: this overwhelming urge when you’re pregnant, to get things ready for the baby’s arrival. Some moms-to-be find themselves cleaning with an urgency they’ve never felt before. Others go through their closets, to send huge bags to Goodwill. And these days, lots of us spend hours on Pinterest, drooling over baby nursery decor.

Luckily, we can help you out with that last one.

We’re giving away some super-cute Jewish baby nursery decorations this week. We were just introduced to a little company called Otiyotli, Letters for Me. They make Hebrew letters to spell out your child’s name that can be hung in your baby’s room. Otiyotli is run by an Israeli mom, Lymor Gal, who lives in Los Angeles. When Lymor’s daughter was born, she couldn’t find anything cute enough for her nursery. So Lymor bought a saw on Craigslist, got herself some paint, and started crafting on her own. Before she knew it, her business had built up beyond family and friends. Check out their Facebook page or their brand new website for more photos and details.

Otiyotli is planning to give away a set of Hebrew letters to a lucky Kveller reader. How do you enter? Just comment below with your child’s name and why you chose it. We’ll pick a winner by Thursday, April 26 at 5 pm–so enter now!

Apr 17 2012

How I Screwed Up the Bilingual Thing

By at 10:34 am

bilingual hebrew bookI’ve been in Israel for the past week with my husband and 2.5-year-old. We’re here for a number of reasons, one of them to see family–my husband’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.–in all I think the immediate family here totals around 31.

So it’s fitting that this article I just wrote about why my daughter speaks more Spanish than Hebrew came out this week. Curious to hear from the rest of you who are also struggling to raise bilingual kids–how exactly do you do it? I need advice, please!

Here’s a bit from the Forward article:

The other night, I handed my daughter, Mika, a plate of chicken and carrots for dinner. She glanced at it momentarily before professing snidely, “Mama, this is not delicioso!” The declaration was remarkable for two reasons: The first was that I had made dinner, the second that my 2.5-year-old cracked a joke. Her hero, Dora the Explorer, calls everything she eats “delicioso” and everything she does “excelente”; the piece of schnitzel I made was clearly neither. Another amazing thing about this was that my daughter used a word in Spanish — correctly. Granted, we’re not raising her to speak Spanish. We are hoping for Hebrew.

Read the rest here.

Feb 27 2012

Do Children Understand Prayers Better than We Do?

By at 12:45 pm

the thinker statueI’m not the first aunt to think her nephew is awesome. But regardless of any bias that I might (or do) possess, I’ve come to appreciate the Inadvertent Philosopher who lives somewhere in my oldest nephew’s insatiably curious brain.

My nephews were taught Hebrew since their first mewling moments–their parents want their progeny to speak the language with relative fluency, for better communication with their Promised Land contemporaries as well as a connection to the language, text, and people of Israel. One lovely side effect of this effort is that Gil, now 6 1/2 (and probably his 4-year-old brother Dov as well), is also achieving simultaneous interest in the words in the siddur, reading the prayer book over his father’s shoulder in synagogue and asking questions. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 1 2012

Our Israeli Friends in Brooklyn

By at 10:54 am
Keshetot crowds

The scene at Keshetot one Sunday morning.

Last year I wrote a post about Israelis in Brooklyn, this amazing organization started by a local Israeli momma who wanted her kids to have a greater connection to their Israeli roots. She banded together with friends, neighbors, and community leaders to create  programming to help create that sense of community and belonging here in Brooklyn. Read the rest of this entry →

May 12 2011

Cake Walk

By at 9:34 am

My baby girl turns 3 today.


When she was born–looking like a cross between a plucked chicken and Lord Voldemort-I never imagined that she would suddenly, somehow, become the leaping and laughing KID she is today.

Three is big. Three remembers. (I remember my third birthday… the balloons, the presents, and the chocolate cake my mom baked.)

So, I want to bake my daughter’s birthday cake.

But the thing is, I am pathologically unable to follow recipes. When I cook, I end up experimenting, but not in a good way. I substitute honey for sugar and the cookie crumbles. Flour for breadcrumbs, and the schnitzel burns. And FYI if you want to watch your family turn various shades of green, use olive oil instead of butter when making scrambled eggs.

(Even when I heat up frozen food, I manage to screw up–soggy middle, scorched edges. And this is why we always stock up on Cheerios and milk. And maybe why Little Homie is anemic. )

“Would you rather I make the cake?” My mother-in-law asked when I shared my plans with everyone during Shabbat dinner. “Yes! Let her make the cake!” B. pleaded with his eyes. But I was resolute.

“Nope, I can handle it!” I said with a smile. (Although I may have lost a filling on one of my back molars from grinding my teeth.)

There’s a lot riding on this birthday cake. For the past few months, a cultural chasm has widened between my daughter and me, and as she hurdles through Hebrew, our connection in English has become frayed. There are times here when she’s laughing with her friends and the Imas of her friends that I feel like the odd woman out. Dimwitted, dowdy, and trying to hard to figure out the joke. (If I feel this way now, I shudder to imagine the teenage years…)

And as hard as I try to get by in Hebrew, I’m floundering. Swimming against the tide, barely able to catch my breath before the next sentence crashes over me.

And my daughter knows it.

So, I want this cake to be perfect. I want to see my daughter’s eyes shine with excitement when she sees the candles–three, plus one to grow on–blazing from the chocolate center. I want her to run her index finger along the top and lick the homemade frosting when no one’s looking. I want to watch her pick the sprinkles off and place them daintily by the side of her plate–saving the sugary rainbow pile for the very last.

And so, I scoured the internet for recipes, until I found one that wouldn’t be hard to foul up. Problem is, mother of the year over here doesn’t have a baking pan. Or flour. Or sugar. And after getting our last budget report from the kibbutz, we now realize that the convenience store here is eating away our savings.

So, off to Yohananoff–the Israeli equivalent of Safeway or Albertsons or Piggly Wiggly or whatever monster superstore y’all have up in your neighborhood–I went. But while I’ve gotten used to the intimate general store on the kibbutz, an Israeli supermarket is an entirely different beast.

Shopping at Yohananoff is a surreal experience, and walking up and down the aisles gave me insight into what the onset of dementia must feel like –everything looks poignantly familiar. From a distance, the colors make sense, the layout is almost what you would expect, but then, you turn a corner, and bam–another dimension. The canned goods are in the same place as the fresh fruit and vegetables, the dairy next to the shampoo. The Cheerios is on one end, the oatmeal on the other.

It almost feels like tugging the hand of a woman you are sure is your mom, and then realizing that you’re mauling a stranger.

Midway through the juice aisle, I started hyperventilating.

By the time I reached the baking goods aisle, I was almost in tears.

There were seven different kinds of flour–all labeled in Hebrew. I couldn’t find the baking powder, and it seemed they were out of vanilla extract. I started pawing through the dried goods looking for the vanilla. I knocked over a jar of colorful sprinkles–the plastic container split open, spilling  thousands of tiny rainbows to the floor while an old man who’s name tag read “Avner” (or “Avram”  or something with an Alef and a Vet in it… Hey, speaking Hebrew is hard enough…) came over with a broom and began to sweep.

“I just want to bake a cake for my daughter’s birthday,”  I said in a mishmash of Hebrew and English with a sob in my throat.

He rolled his eyes and gave me a look as if to say “lady, you think you’ve got problems?  I was in the Palmach when the road to Jerusalem was cut off and we almost starved to death!”

“Take!”  he said. And  he handed me a blue cake mix box. And there, smiling maniacally from the front was the Pillsbury Dough Boy.  It felt like meeting an old friend.

So, I took the mix. And a tub of chocolate frosting. And a jar of rainbow sprinkles.

(And off I skipped to the alcohol aisle. Because Smirnoff is Smirnoff in every language. )


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