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Aug 8 2013

For the Month of Elul, Threading Together My Sons’ Jewish Identities

By at 11:53 am

croc with jewish star buttonOn her blog “Ima On and Off the Bima,” Rabbi Phyllis Sommer started something called #BlogElul. Elul is the Hebrew month preceding the High Holidays, and is meant to be a time of introspection as we mentally prepare for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Rabbi Sommer has designated every day of Elul to a different topic, and will be blogging about each one and encouraging others to join in.

The #BlogElul challenge spoke to me, as each year I contemplate how to weave bits of Judaism into my children’s day. Bits that over time will be threaded together to form their Jewish identities and sense of self. Read the rest of this entry →

May 10 2013

Everything You Need to Know About Shavuot

By at 11:14 am

mt. sinai signNext up on the Jewish holiday docket is Shavuot, which is a two-day holiday that begins next Tuesday at sundown.

Shavuot was originally an ancient harvest festival celebrating the grain crop. In Hebrew, Shavuot means “weeks” and the holiday is celebrated seven weeks after Passover begins. But today, Shavuot is mostly recognized as the anniversary of the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. Read more about the basics here.

So how do you celebrate this holiday with the kids? Some ideas: Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 22 2013

Purim is Coming & We’re Here to Help

By at 11:11 am

pizza hamantaschen

At last, the wackiest, craziest Jewish holiday of the year has arrived! Purim begins tomorrow night at sundown and goes until sundown on Sunday night, which means 24 hours of costumes, hamantaschen, noisemakers and more.

But Purim ain’t all cookies and costumes–it’s about beauty pageants, drinking, and evil plots, too! Refresh yourself on the Purim story, and then if you need some last minute ideas to make this year’s Purim extra fun, we’ve got you covered. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 4 2013

Our Favorite Purim Costumes

By at 5:01 pm

kids in costumes for purimLet’s not beat around the bush: Purim is the craziest Jewish holiday of the year. There’s carnivals and parades, cookies and noisemakers, religion-sanctioned drunkenness, and of course, the costumes.

Many consider Purim to be the Jewish Halloween, and your kids certainly won’t mind getting into the spirit of the holiday by dressing up as whatever they want! Purim comes early this year, starting at sundown on Saturday, February 23rd, so if you don’t already have a costume in place, now’s the time to start looking. The internet’s cup runneth over with all kinds of costumes, but we’ve searched through the endless choices and found our favorites just for you. From cutesy to Jewishy to just plain weird, here they are. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 25 2013

It’s Tu Bishvat Time

By at 11:37 am

Hello, Kveller folks. Just a friendly reminder that Tu Bishvat, the Birthday of the Trees, starts tonight at sundown. If you need some last minute ideas for food, crafts, and activities, we’ve got you covered.

To Eat

fig and goat cheese sandwichA common way to celebrate Tu Bishvat is to eat foods that contain the seven species from the Bible: figs, dates, pomegranates, olives, grapes, wheat and barley. That means you could make stuffed dates or fig and goat cheese sandwiches. Or you could make this fruity dinner for Tu Bishvat featuring orange and maple baked tofu and persimmon and pistachio cupcakes.

To keep up with the fruit theme, this orange salad is light and refreshing. And what better way to eat fruit then dipped in chocolate? Here comes in the chocolate fondue with fruit. Lastly, a little adult fun can be had with some homemade sangria using any of your favorite fruits. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 23 2013

On Tu Bishvat & Grieving for My Dad

By at 9:36 am

Tu Bishvat begins this Friday. For some, this holiday will only register because a child enrolled in Hebrew school (or Jewish Day School) will come home with a sandwich bag full of dried fruits and nuts or with a story about the Tu Bishvat Seder she participated in at school.

But for most of us, this admittedly minor Jewish holiday will pass without much (any?) fanfare. The concept is great: a New Year for the trees. The winter rains in Israel are on their way out; its time to welcome spring, to honor the earth in all of its life-sustaining glory, to get our fingernails dirty and plant something. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 30 2012

Why This Secular-Raised Jew Loves Sukkot

By at 3:58 pm

sukkah decoration pomegranate Sukkot starts tonight at sundown. For more info on the holiday, click here.

Our sukkah is up, and I am thrilled.

This is our first sukkah as a family, and my first sukkah ever.

I love pretty much all of the Jewish holidays, except maybe Tisha B’av, which has been known to fall on my birthday. (I don’t think you’re supposed to love that one anyway.) But Sukkot might be my favorite, for so many reasons.

Sukkot happens in the fall, and autumn in New England is nothing short of spectacular. The air is fresh and cool, a welcome change from the oppressive heat of summer. Our local farm stand has dozens of varieties of crisp, delicious apples, and the leaves in our neighborhood are varying shades of green, yellow, and red. It’s the perfect time to be outside. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 28 2012

Rosh Hashanah Recipes: Honey-Baked Chicken

By at 2:41 pm

honey-baked chicken with tangy apple for rosh hashanahHello, and welcome to the Rosh Hashanah Countdown 2012 (or should we say 5773?). In order to get you all fully prepared and excited for the High Holidays, we’ll be featuring one tasty Rosh Hashanah recipe on the blog every day, from now until the Big Day (which begins at sundown on September 16th, in case you haven’t been keeping track).

Today’s recipe comes from Zoe Singer, and it’s for honey-baked chicken with tangy apple. Here’s the recipe for honey baked-chicken:

A drizzle of honey creates a nice browned skin on this baked chicken. It makes a lovely autumn meal accompanied by challah, a green vegetable and a salad.

Tip: The tart apples, cooked with shallots and mustard, can also be served with other proteins, such as salmon, turkey, or duck. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 6 2012

Jewish Holiday Alert

By at 2:14 pm

Moses and the 10 CommandmentsIf you’ve ever tried to get a rabbi to marry you during the summer, you’ve probably heard of Tisha B’Av–a fast day that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples. (This year it starts the night of July 28th.)

The three weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av are simply called “The Three Weeks.” During this period some people abstain from listening to music, getting married, and cutting their hair.

The Three Weeks kicks off this Sunday–the 17th of Tammuz. It’s believed that a lot of bad stuff happened to the Jews on this day. Moses broke the original Ten Commandments after coming upon the Israelites as they worshiped the Golden Calf. The Roman rulers forbade sacrifices to be made in the Second Temple on this date in 69 C.E.. In the following year, the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem were breached. This attack led to the destruction of the Temple three weeks later.

So, in commemoration of all that, it is traditional to fast from sunrise to sunset.

We will not say “Happy 17th of Tammuz” because that sounds wrong.

For more info, check out this piece on Tisha B’Av and more here on the 17th of Tammuz.

Mar 27 2012

How to Choose Your Passover Haggadah

By at 9:57 am

It’s that time of year again. Spring is in the air, families are making their travel plans, and matzah is on sale (seriously, $4 for five boxes at my local A&P!). Passover begins on sundown, April 6th, and besides choosing the best recipe for matzah ball soup, there’s another important decision on your hands: the Haggadah. The Haggadah is a major determinate in how your seder will turn out. Long or short, funny or serious, traditional or modern–there’s a Passover Haggadah for everyone out there, little kids included. Here’s a review of some of our favorite Haggadot, as well as some online materials that just may suit your fancy.

matzah houseOnline Options:

DIY Seder

For the crafty, DIY set, this website is perfect. (I mean, the first image upon visiting their homepage is a matzah house. A matzah house!!) Here you can create your own Haggadah by answering some questions and choosing some custom content like activities and texts. Then you can print out your book or even use it on your iPad and share with others. They’ve got options for interfaith families, kid-friendly seders, and much, much more.

Haggadot.com Read the rest of this entry →

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