Tag Archives: Judaism

Socially-distant summer activities with PJ Library printable

Summer is in full swing, and Americans have accepted that this season will unlike any other in recent history. Many of our favorite summer spots are closed, or running with limited capacity, and health concerns have left many families wary of venturing too far beyond their homes.

With limited and restricted options for entertainment, you may wonder what to do with kids all day. Afterall, bored kids can be the worst.

A little resourcefulness and creativity can turn those bored days into memorable ones. Read on for some ideas to try with your family.

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How To Talk To Your White, Jewish Kids About Racism

Social media has seen an uptick in thoughtful and passionate pleas from white Americans to their white friends and family to reflect on their own racial biases, confront racial injustice and stand by black Americans who continue to fight for equitable treatment in the United States.

And, while the authors don’t always explicitly invoke Jesus and his teachings — though many do — from the language and tone, you can understand they are coming at this from the perspective of white Christians, a group which enjoys a high level of privilege in America.

As a Jewish person, I have often felt conflicting emotions while reading some of these writings, especially those claiming “we” (meaning white people) could never understand what it feels like to be oppressed and targeted for who you are. Continue reading

Traditional and adventurous ways to make Shavuot the delicious dairy holiday of your dreams

Shavuot, the Jewish festival that commomerates the receiving of the Torah (Old Testament), was one of my favorite holidays as a child.

I would love to tell you my appreciation of this holy day was because of a deep spiritual connection to my ancestors, and maybe it was a bit, but the real reason I adored Shavuot was the food.

Unlike other Jewish festivals with their gefilte fish, chopped liver and other traditional ashkenazic foods I disliked, the holiday of Shavuot was a dairy-filled wonder of cheesey goodness.

From blintzes to lasagna, I loved all the lactose-laden meals I indulged in during the holiday. Continue reading

Coronavirus and Passover: Tips for keeping everyone safe and healthy

Passover is one of my favorite times of year because I get to gather with my family to participate in a seder lead by my father. I enjoy the communal spirit in partaking in rituals observed by our ancestors and passing on these traditions to my children.

Given the spread of the Coronavirus in the United States and health organizations advising everyone to take extra precautions to avoid getting sick or passing on germs to others, you may be anxious about how you will spend your Passover.

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Maybe you had a big trip planned to Israel and now have to observe the holiday at home. Maybe you’re living in a containment zone and can no longer host the big seder you planned. Or, maybe, you are just anxious and can’t prepare for the holiday the way you normally would.

Whatever the reason, even during this time, we can still find ways to have a meaningful Passover, while still keeping our families and loved ones safe.

Keep reading for my tips, and feel free to share yours in the comments. Continue reading

Nutella, white chocolate bring fun twist to traditional hamantaschen

Purim is almost here, and that means hamantaschen.

Yum!

So what is Purim anyway?

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Well the story is a bit more complicated than this, but essentially the holiday celebrates the freeing of the Jews of Persia from a hateful decree by the king’s advisor, Haman.

Haman? Hamantaschen? Are they related?

Yup!

Hamantaschen are filled, triangle-shaped cookies, which, supposedly look like Haman’s hat.

Why would we want to eat a cookie shaped like the hat of a man who wanted to destroy the Jewish people? I’m not sure. But, they are delicious and super fun to make. Continue reading

Not all families celebrate Halloween

With Halloween mere days away, many American parents are scrambling to put last-minute costumes together, dealing with kids who can’t make up their minds about what they want to be, stocking up on extra candy, and hoping nobody gets into too much trouble.

This is a fun time of year for many families, and as Halloween has become an accepted part of American culture, it is often assumed most, if not all Americans celebrate it in someway.

This is not true.

For several reasons, lots of families choose to opt out of the Halloween festivities. Some feel the holiday puts too much emphasis on candy, others believe it’s too scary, others skip it for religious reasons. Continue reading

Sukkot: The awesome Jewish holiday you (probably) never heard of

If you are Jewish (or have at least a few Jewish friends), you probably saw a lot of stuff about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Indeed, those two holidays are, in my estimation, the most widely observed among the Jewish people, with Yom Kippur, in particular, holding a good deal of weight.

Lesser known among non-Jews, and even among more secular Jews, is the holiday of Sukkot, which is a shame because it is pretty awesome.

Sukkot is an eight-day-long festival celebrating the harvest and remembering the time when the Jewish people were wandering from Egypt to Israel. This last part is honored today by the practice of building a sukkah — a temporary hut, usually crafted from simple materials with branches and other natural material used for a “roof.”

As a child, I loved decorating my family’s sukkah with tinsel, garlands and other various items my parents have gathered over the years. Now as a mom, I am enjoying passing on this tradition with my own children. I love that is a chance for us to come together as a family to build something we can all share.

During Sukkot, families such as mine will eat, relax and enjoy time with family in the Sukkah. For kids this is a really cool experience, and makes family meals a special time. Some people even sleep in the Sukkah, to get the full feel of what it might have been like for the Jews in the wilderness. My family has never done this, as unlike in the Middle Eastern desert, this time of year gets pretty chilly where we live!

Sukkot is a wonderful time to connect with family, and, because we spend a lot of it outside, it is a great time to connect with nature as well.
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Sacred spaces should be safe spaces

As a Jew, I know antisemitism is always lurking. This feeling makes me wait a bit before revealing my religion to others. This feeling makes me glad to have an Anglo name on my birth certificate, as opposed to the Yiddish one I use during religious occasions. This feeling makes me fear how my children will be treated. This feeling makes me wonder, deep in the back of my mind, if anything might happen when I’m gathered with other Jews.

I try not to think about what might happen when I attend a prayer service or drop my child off at Hebrew School. I know the odds are good at will just be another, uneventful day. I’m sure that’s how the congregants at the Poway synagogue near San Diego felt when they gathered for Sabbath prayers.

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They weren’t thinking about being attacked for their religion. Sure, many probably experienced their fair share of antisemitism, there may even have been some Holocaust survivors in attendance, but on that day, they were not in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, they were in America in a synagogue, many miles and many years from one of history’s darkest hours. They were there to worship, to praise G-d, to mourn the loss of loved ones and to share in the communal joy of being with other Jews. Continue reading

Elevate your cookie game with these Nutella ganache-filled hamantaschen

Jews around the world are preparing for one of our faith’s most fun holidays. Purim is the celebration of the Jewish people’s triumph over an evil tyrant, hell-bent on our destruction (yes, I realize this sounds like most of our holidays).

Purim is often celebrated with costumes, games and, of course, food.

Elevate your cookie game with these chocolaty hamantaschen

Traditionally,¬† on Purim Jews will consume a triangle-shaped treat known as hamantaschen. These delicious cookies are commonly filled with apricot, strawberry or other fruit jams. However, if you are chocolate lover like me, ordinary jelly isn’t going to cut it.

This year, I wanted to take my hamantaschen to another level, so I decided to experiment with a Nutella ganache filling. I won’t lie, there was a lot of trial and error, but I think the final result turned out delicious (even if not every cookie turned out picture perfect). Continue reading

If you need a prayer of gratitude, this is it

I’m a minimally observant Jew, and also a mother to two young children, which means my time to sit and focus on prayer is sparse and sporadic. When I do “pray,” I’m mostly thinking of stuff I’d like to happen for myself or my family. Even though these things may be selfless in nature, I realize this isn’t exactly praying, but more like wishful thinking.

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I was doing a whole lot of asking and not a lot of thanking. And, considering how many wonderful blessings have filled my life, I definitely had a good deal of gratitude to express. Like most of us, however, I got caught up in what I didn’t have instead of being grateful for what I already got. I wasn’t praying fully.

Yes, prayer can serve to ask for what we want. There’s nothing wrong with setting intentions and verbalizing your desires. I know this does wonders for people, and can be a powerful way to set you on your to achieving your dreams. However, this is not the true purpose of prayer.

The purpose of prayer is gratitude. Gratitude toward a power greater than ourselves. Gratitude toward G-d. Gratitude in even our darkest times. Continue reading