Passover is my favorite Jewish holiday, and even as a child, I loved the ritual and storytelling of the Seder.
Now, as a parent, I enjoy witnessing my own kids share in these traditions. However, I realize they (and frankly many grownups), may have trouble engaging in the Passover Seder. And, if your Seders tend to run on the longer side, they can be very overwhelming for little ones.
However, with some preparation and creativity, you can help make the Seder a wonderful experience for guests of all ages.
Costumes, treats, permission to make random noise? No wonder kids love Purim so much!
Indeed, Purim is an exciting and fun-filled holiday, and the story of Esther risking her life to save her people is an intriguing and adventurous tale, but parents of young children may worry that the more “adult” themes of the Book of Esther are too advanced for their kids.
The Super Bowl had some football, which, I guess, was sort of cool. But, we all know why everyone watches “The Big Game” — the commercials, of course!
While watching with my family, I asked my oldest (age 8) to let me know which Super Bowl ads he found particularly entertaining. Generally, snack food commercials were the most liked, however, I was surprised by some of the others that appealed to him, especially because they had some “adult” humor. I guess you never know what will a kid will find funny.
Without further ado, in no particular order, here are my third-grader’s top Super Bowl commercial picks.
My husband and I celebrated ten years of marriage in October — an impressive feat in any year — but, this year feels especially triumphant, considering how difficult these past several months of staying home, schools closing, job uncertainty and more have been on us and so many other couples.
This pandemic has pushed many marriages to the brink, and indeed, we know a few couples whose unions are already dissolved or soon will be.
Then, of course, there are those high-profile splits, including that of self-proclaimed life coach, Rachel Hollis, that have left us disillusioned over what exactly makes a lasting marriage.
Did these couples fall suddenly out of love? Or, were there deeper issues uprooted by the challenges imposed by an unprecedented pandemic?
I wonder why other couples are struggling, while my husband and I, so far any way, have come through this mostly unscathed.
More than unscathed, I would argue or relationship has strengthened and evolved, as if the shared experience of going through hardship together has forged a greater bond.
Spending time in nature and appreciating the beauty of the world around them is an ideal I hope to instill in my kids that will stay with them for years to come.
Tu B’Shevat, which begins at sundown on January 27 and ends at nightfall on January 28, is known widely as the new year of the trees, or Jewish Earth Day. In Israel, this time of year is when the most rain falls, rain that we as Jews pray for, rain that brings fourth new life and new hope. We celebrate by eating new fruits and expressing our appreciation for new life.
Of course, if you live in area of the world that is smack in the middle of the cold winter months, it’s hard to imagine celebrating a holiday about growth and renewal.
Yet, even those of us living in colder climates can find ways to get out into nature and appreciate the beauty of the world.
Getting kids to eat healthy is a battle I know all too well. From artistic uses of fruit, to “hiding” vegetables, parents seem to have to go through extreme lengths just to add some nutritious foods into our children’s diet.
While eating produce is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and sometimes we do need to get creative with our recipes, there is an even easier way to add nutrition to your family meals, and chances are, you already are doing it.
My kids love cookies (who doesn’t?), and have enjoyed making holiday-themed cookie houses at school and elsewhere. And, while those are a lot of fun for children, they tend to be more Christmas themed, which can make Jewish kids like mine feel a bit excluded. So, when our family got the opportunity to test out Manischewitz’s new Chanukah cookie decorating kit, they could not wait to get their hands (and mouths) on this fun and tasty project.
The Chanukah House Cookie Decorating Kit comes with pre-baked cookie walls and roof pieces, ready-to-use frosting and decorations, to make building an enjoyable and easy process. You can choose to follow the design pictured on the box, or you can get creative and decorate the house any way you like.
My kids got creative with their design, and had a little trouble getting everything to stick at first, but once they got the hang of it, they really enjoyed putting the house together and putting their own spin on the decorations.
Of course, the best part about building the Chanukah Cookie House was getting to eat it. Ours wasn’t up long before my boys went right for the delicious, frosted cookie pieces. As you can see in the picture below, my kids couldn’t wait until Chanukah to give the cookie house a try, so you can believe us when we say that this project was both fun and yummy.
Kids of all ages will love building this tasty treat this Chanukah (which begins on December 10), and families will love that each kit comes with a PJ Library subscription card so that families raising children with Jewish values and traditions can sign up to receive a free expertly curated, age-appropriate children’s book each month.
For even more Chanukah fun, check out PJ Library’s “Hanukkah Hub” for recipes, stories, games, gift ideas and more.
The Manischewitz Chanukah House is available at retailers nationwide and on Amazon.
Disclaimer: As a PJ Library influencer, I am compensated for promoting this program. All opinions expressed are my own.
As kids get older, they naturally get more curious about the world around them and why they do certain things. Being a Jewish family, who keeps a kosher home, we observe a number of rules: separate dishes and utensils, no pork, shellfish or other unkosher foods in our house and not eating dairy and meat in the same meal.
Lots of rules, which for most of their young lives, our children accepted as part of their reality.
In recent years, and in particular the last few months, my oldest, soon to be 8, has become more interested in what being kosher means, and has been asking more questions.
The other day, for example, my son asked me how long he had to wait to have dairy after eating meat. I explained how, as often is the case with Jewish law, that different Jews have different answers, with more observant ones waiting at least six hours after a meat meal before eating dairy, while others wait just one hour or less. I explained how we are generally more lenient when it comes to time between meals, but others in our extended family are more strict.
Whether you are strictly kosher all the time, observe some of the laws, or choose not to be kosher at all, there are lots of ways to help an interested child explore what kashrut means and how to make it a part of their lives.
Ways To Teach Kids About Kashrut
Go on a kosher-label scavenger hunt
From “OU” to “K” to “Star-K,” there are dozens of kosher certifications to be found on food and beverages throughout the supermarket. If you aren’t familiar, review the labels as a family, make a list and head to the store. Ask your kids to find one item with each symbol. Notice which ones are easier to spot, or if some are missing. Does your supermarket have a kosher section, or are items more spread out?
Vegetarian (though you do need to be mindful when it comes to cheese, but that’s a seperate post) and vegan meals tend to be kosher by design. When you go on your kosher scavenger hunt, your kids may notice the fresh produce has no kosher markings or labels at all. This is because unprocessed or uncooked fruits and vegetables are kosher on their own and need no further certification. Make a meal (or part of a meal) of only fresh produce and discuss what makes it kosher and why.
Try a meal without mixing meat and dairy
Another simple way to test out keeping kosher as a family or if your child is interested on their own, is to avoid serving dairy with a meat meal. So if your kids normally drink milk with their meatballs, mix it up with another beverage or even a non-dairy milk alternative such as almond or coconut milk.
Understand kids will make mistakes
Speaking more to those families who do keep kosher, understand that remembering and following the rules of kashrut can be challenging for young children (not to mention grownups). Whether its a birthday party where your kid is confused about why they can’t eat the burgers, or a piece of candy shared with them at lunch that isn’t kosher-certified, there are many moments for misunderstandings and slip ups. Be patient, and acknowledge their efforts.
No matter where you, your family or your kids on their kosher journey, exploring the laws of kashrut can be a great way to connect and learn more about Judaism.
Disclaimer: As a PJ Library influencer, I am compensated for promoting this program. All opinions expressed are my own.
Since the world stopped earlier this year, our November trip to Disney World was a beaming light of hope. By then, surely, the pandemic would be under control, or at least manageable enough to allow us to travel without too much worry.
But, as the months went by and the COVID-19 cases went up, our Disney trip seemed like less and less of a possibility. Still, I stayed positive.
Numbers were declining in my state — once an epicenter for the New Coronavirus — and I was encouraged when Disney World opened its doors again this summer. I followed along with the ever-changing protocols, rationalizing the sacrifices we would have to make would be worth it to go.
Sure, I thought, the masks might feel odd, and the characters won’t hug us, but the crowds would be smaller, and the parks will be cleaner than they’ve ever been.
I told myself not too feel bad if this was the first experience the kids had with Disney World. They’ve never been, they wouldn’t know any better. But, I have, and I know better. Yet, I convinced myself all the restrictions and changes would be a minor price to pay to give my children the chance at something magical in an otherwise difficult year.
I held on to the hope as the months, weeks and days drew closer to our planned trip. I sent countless emails back and forth to our agent, making and re-making dining reservations, I spent hours one morning to snag our set of limited park tickets, all the while knowing our trip would likely be postponed.
And, today, was that day.
Today was when I sent the email asking our agent to move our trip to next year.
That dream we had all the way back in the beginning of 2020, before COVID-19 was a word in my vocabulary, that dream was now gone. Well, not gone, but delayed.
As, I write this, I hear how incredibly privileged I am to even have entertained the thought of a Disney World vacation. When so many have suffered tremendous loss both in terms of life and livelihood, I know some mom whining about not being able to take a trip to Disney is the least thing the world needs right now.
So, I write this with no intention of anyone to feel sorry for me. I have no right to elicit sympathy, nor comfort. Those are things we should grant to those truly suffering, because there is plenty of suffering and not enough sympathy to go around.
But, I will permit myself to feel just a little bit sad about these now canceled plans. I will take a moment to grieve the loss of what I had hoped would have been a special trip for my family.
I will wallow and bitch about the state of America and how if we could have only gotten our act together fewer people would have died, and I would get to watch my youngest get a hug from Cinderella and my oldest wield a lightsaber against a Sith lord.
So, please, forgive me for being petty and whiny. I am aware of how foolish I sound.
Then again, maybe you are like me, maybe you had a big trip planned, or you were hoping for a huge wedding, or you thought you would be celebrating your kid’s graduation with hundreds of people, or your family has yet to meet your new baby, or you will be alone on Thanksgiving.
I want you to know you are allowed to feel devastated about all of it. Feeling sad over what you lost doesn’t make you any less appreciative of what you have.
I am so grateful for all the incredible people and comforts I have in my life. I thank God, and hope a canceled Disney vacation is the worst thing that happens to our family this year.
Because while we may not get to experience the magic of Disney World, we have had plenty of joy and happiness right in our own home. We have found new ways to connect and appreciate one another, all while managing a challenging year.
And our Disney Dream isn’t over, it’s just on hold until next year.
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