Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Parasha Project Chukat

 Another week of fun!

Parashat Chukat starts out by describing the para adumah, the red heifer. I tried to explain this difficult concept to my girls, but settled for to, "It is too complicated for us to understand. We do it because we love Hashem and we don't need to ask 'why'. Just like when I ask you to do something for me, like putting your things away, you just need to do it, without asking 'why'?" Amazingly, three days later, I have not heard the
'w word' in that context.
The parasha then recounts Miriam's death. The girls and I eulogized Miriam. Gabi told the story of Miriam watching her baby brother. Cohava loves the story of Miriam and her tambourine, leading the women in song, after the splitting of Yam Suf. 
And this inspired parasha project number one.

Making Music Like Miriam
Last week, Riot! had wooden musical instruments for two dollars! I bought their tambourines and set out paint.
 Cohava and Gabi were very excited about painting.
 Gabi enjoyed mixing the primary colours to see what she could create. Cohava found this maddening.
 When the paint was dry, it was time to "Play Miriam". The girls tied on headscarves and sang, "Az YaShit" while banging on their new instruments. Even Ruti joined in the action, as they danced around her.

Moshe Hits the Rock

Project number two is not yet completed. The tambourines is my back-up in case this next one fails.
This is the parasha where Moshe famously takes his stick, hits a rock, and water comes out. We watched a Lego reenactment of the event.

I probably cannot make water come out of a rock with a stick. But I am trying to make a rock come out of water with a stick. We are making rock candy!

Rock Candy

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Clean glass jar
  • Icy-pole (Popsicle) sticks
In a medium saucepan, heat 2 cups of the sugar and the water. Do not boil! Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Gradually add the additional sugar, stirring continuously until all the sugar is dissolved.

Pour the solution into a clean glass jar and place the sticks inside. Wait for a really long time (like a whole week!).

It is my hope that by Shabbat we will have rocks on the end of the sticks. Most recipes call for strings, so I cannot be sure. Something is forming, but I don't know if they will be the rock lollipops I am hoping for. Maybe if I talk to it instead...

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Challah - Parashat Korach

When I make challah (which is not as often as I would like) I generally do not make the traditional plaits (braids). There are many reasons for this, which I might go into in a future blog. Instead I shape the dough into something related to the parasha.
Then my children and the guests have to guess what the shape is and how it connects to the week's Torah portion. The children love the guessing game and funny shapes, and it ensures the shabbat meal starts with a Torah-based discussion.
Of course my artwork is often a bit lacking. A few weeks ago at school, one of the children pointed to the board and said, "Morah Sharona, what does a dinosaur have to do with milk?" "That is a cow." "But it looks like a dinosaur."
So here are this week's challot. Based on my parasha summary in my previous post can you guess what the challot are meant to be? There are two sets.

And these

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Parsha Project Korach- sugared almonds!

This week's Torah portion is Korach, which recounts the jealousy of Korach and his efforts to raise mutiny against Moshe and Aharon. My favorite part of the story is when the earth opens and swallows Korach and his followers. You can read a full parsha summary here among countless other Torah sites.
I really wanted to do my parsha project on this section. The girls and I had a long talk about jealousy; when we feel that way and what we do about it. I thought about science projects on earthquakes, but couldn't find any I considered cool enough.
In the fifth aliyah, G-d proves Aharon's status by miraculously causing his staff to blossom with almonds. The sweetness of this miracle inspired the making of sugared almonds!

  • 5 cups whole almonds
  • 1/3 cup white sugar 
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 egg white
  • teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 120 C.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with oil.
  3. Add vanilla to egg white and beat until frothy.
  4. While it is beating, mix sugars, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl
  5. Add almonds to egg mixture and toss to coat.
  6. Then pour cinnamon sugar mixture onto almonds and toss to coat.
  7. Spread sugar coated almonds on lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake 1 hour.
  9. Let cool and try not too eat them all in one sitting.
Yummy Shabbat Treat!

Before bed, Cohava said, "I hope Abba doesn't get hungry in the night and eat all of our almonds. But, if he does, we will make more tomorrow!"

Maybe I will eat them all. They are amazing,

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Brachot: Fruit

On the Jewish calendar it is actually a quiet time.  Northern Hemisphere Jewish schools aren't missing out on anything! We use the down time in seasonal curriculum to cover brachot.
Usually we start with hamotzei, the prayer for bread, and work our way down on order in which they are said (hamotzei, gefen, mezonot, etz, adama, shehakol). However, this year I realized (don't know why it had not been realized before) the best way to teach 'borei pri ha etz' praising the Creator of the fruit of the trees, is by fruit picking. Winter means that the citrus on the trees will drop off soon. Therefore I arranged a field trip to the house next door to kinder, where the lovely owners let us pick from their mandarin trees. The truit was divine, the children had a wonderful time, and hopefully learned something.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Parashat Shelach Spy vs Spy

I sat down with the girls and said, "We have a problem. The Jewish people are in the dessert and they think maybe Hashem's plan for living in eretz Yisrael isn't a good plan. They think we need to go check. What do you think?"
"But Hashem is always right!" Cohava countered.
"And I love eretz Yisrael!" Gabi exclaimed.
"Ok Kalev ben Yefuneh," I said to Cohava, "I know you are right, but I need to send some spies to check. I need you, and Yehoshua bin Nun (Gabi) and ten others to go and see. I trust you. What do you think spies need?"
The girls worked on a list, which Cohava then wrote down.
Soon after they went to bed.
 I got to work on what I considered crucial spy-gear, binoculars.
. I only had two toilet rolls, so I stapld them together for one set. I cut holes in and disposable coffee cups for the other two. I tied on some string and left them for the girls to decorate. Viola!
Monday was the Queen's Birthday (ok, actually it was a few weeks ago, but in Australia it is celebrated then. whatever) so there was no school!
We decided to take our spies on a surprise adventure and chose the Melbourne zoo. We packed some of the items on their list and headed on. When we were parking I said, "Kalev, Yehoshua, we are almost there. Shall I tell you where we are?"
"We are at the zoo!" Cohava replied.
I was stymied. "How did you know?!?"
"I read the signs," she replied simply. Literacy is an amazing thing!
Although the children enjoyed observing the animals, their favorite part is a room where you can dress up and pretend to be various zoo related professionals. Gabi loved being a veterinarian.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Gabi's Birthday

Gabi has the 'travel bug'. The majority of her imaginative play involves airplanes and far-flung destinations and she is working on basic greetings in a variety of languages. Therefore when it came to planning her birthday party the theme was easy: airplanes!
 For the invitation I used publisher to doctor a Qantas ticket with party appropriate details.

 When the kids arrived there were three stations: passport control, preparing the aircraft, and planning the journey.
 Before the party I printed pretend passports with an Australian cover. I asked Gabi's teacher for a head-shot of each child in the class and assembled a passport for each child with a few blank spares for children. When the children arrived at the party they were presented with their passport and sat down to cover the blank pages with stamps and stickers. At the party I was surprised by how many of the children did not know what a passport was. But American children are probably less likely to know.  Whether or not they could relate to the travel document, the children all loved decorating them.

Preparing the aircraft involved folding paper airplanes with printed paper. This required parental assistance. We quickly discovered Noa's father is a beast at paper airplanes.

The last tables was colouring in maps. America, Australia, Israel, and the world. Ben felt that I was too exclusionary.

And then it was time for party games!

I will tell you what I planned, but the three year olds mostly just ran around in circles.

I brought two of many types of clothes, gloves, sunhats, and the like. I made two piles. I split the kids into two teams and would call out a type of holiday. The child had to grab something that would be appropriate, put it on, run across the room, take it off, and put it in their teams suitcase.

For the next game, I set up drink bottles on the floor and instructed the kids to weave their luggage around without knocking down the bottles. The goal was to simulate luggage check-in. The kids really enjoyed it.

Then we boarded the 'plane'. Upstairs I set up chairs like a plane. Gabi was the pilot and instructed the kids to fasten their seat belts. We looked out the windows, played games and tossed around inflatable balloons.
We landed in time for cream cake!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Flashcards part II

After reading my last post, my mother recommended I look at The Lookstein Center for the best words for teffila flashcards. There are countless valuable resources on their site. I will be using this 34 Most Frequent Words to get my siddur mavens started.