Wednesday, 25 December 2013

H2O! Vaera

The plot keeps coming fast! Parashat Vaera has the four promises of redemption and the first seven of the ten plagues. Thanks to wonderful educators at Pesach time, my children can easily name and share a little about each plague.
"Which is your favorite plague?" Gabi asked me.
"Umm, I don't have a favorite. When something bad happens to someone else, even if we don't like the person, we can't be happy." I replied. I explained how when we recite the plagues at the seder, at the utterance of each one we remove a drop of wine. The drop is to lessen our happiness of seder night for their suffering.
"Okay, but which do you like the most?" Cohava was relentless.
"Frogs and darkness."
"Is that because no one got hurt during them?" she asked.
"Also in blood no one was hurt," Gabi piped up.
"Gabi, it is true that it didn't hurt the Egyptian's skin like lice or boils, and they didn't die suddenly like the last plague, but not having water is terrible," I explained.
"Cuz you could get duh-hydrated?" Gabi queried.

So in honor of this week's parasha we are learning about the importance of water. There are countless projects that one could do on this parasha, so if you are looking for something like frog puppets (super fun) keep searching.

We talked about our bodies needing water. Using a water bottle, we looked at how if the bottle were our bodies it would have to be 1/2 to 2/3 full for us to be alive. (The sticker on the top is a face).
We are going to work on drinking more water every day.

 Then we talked about how all life forms need water and that no food can be produced without water.{Gabi insists candy can}.
To show how plants need water and not blood, we did the old celery experiment. Two stalks, one in water, the other in water + red food dye. [Ruti also insisted on one AbbyCaddaby cup of celery]. Hopefully the experiment will produce results.

 Next I brought out a Pharoh doll and we enjoyed playing with him and water.
(Cohava has an angry face to match her Pharoh voice)

 The eleventh plague: being chewed on by a baby. Pharoh never gets a break!

 The girls are also doing some online learning about water at websites like:

Cohava also loves fun facts so here are some fun water facts:
  • Water is made up of two elements, hydrogen and oxygen. Its chemical formula is H2O.
  • Water has three different states, liquid, solid and gas.
  • The word water usually refers to water in its liquid state. The solid state of water is known as ice while the gas state of water is known as steam or water vapor.
  • Water covers around 70% of the Earth’s surface.
  • The three largest oceans on Earth are the Pacific Ocean (largest), the Atlantic Ocean (second largest) and the Indian Ocean (third largest). More ocean facts.
  • The longest river in the world is the Nile River, it reaches 6650 kilometers in length (4132 miles). <-----Thats a LOT of blood!!!
  • The second longest river in the world is the Amazon River, it reaches 6400 kilometres (4000 miles) in length.
  • The longest river in the USA is the Missouri River. At around 2,340 miles (3,770 km) in length it is slightly longer than the Mississippi River (2,320 miles). The two combine to form the longest river system in North America.
  • Pure water has no smell and no taste, it also has a pH level around 7.
  • Water expands as it cools from 4 °C to 0 °C (above 4 °C it does the opposite). In freezing conditions, water has been known to burst water pipes as it freezes to ice.
We will probably talk about water conservation and find ways to save water around the house and to fight water pollution. 

Enjoy and appreciate your water!

Shabbat Shalom!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Shemot challah

Almost every week I make a challa shaped like something in the parasha.
Guests have to guess what the shape of its and how it relates to the Torah reading. Some weeks are harder than others.
Usually I don't have a chance to photograph them and post.
Can you guess this weeks?

Monday, 16 December 2013

Shemot-Safe or Unsafe?

Parasha Shemot begins the enslavement of the Jewish people in Egypt and introduces us to Moshe.
Since this is the early addition and this is a tale pretty universally known thanks to Pesach, I will not expound more on the text.

Project 1: Recently my girls have been asking for a pet. Specifically they want a teacup chihuahua. Don't get me wrong, those pups are insanely cute in photographs, but we are NOT getting one. I explained to the girls that in our house we look after people and not pets. This led to a discussion of how we look after babies.

"If you were Miriam, and you were looking after Moshe, even before he is in the teva, what do you need to do?" I asked. They got paper and pencils and wrote "A Baby Guide for Miriam."

This led to a great discussion about people's needs, baby safety, and responsibility. It always was a good opportunity to practice handwriting, spelling, and all that stuff.

Ruti was equally enthusiastic, yelling "Baby! E!" and scribbling furiously. Much cuter than a teacup chihuahua.  (And cuter than gluing another baby in a basket).

Project 2:
The burning bush! This is a very powerful moment in the Torah which is difficult to really appreciate. Forgetting about the intensity of G-d suddenly chatting with you, the shrubbery on fire and not consumed is amazing. I do not think the words do it justice. I don't think my children even understand that fire regularly does consume things. How often do children today see a fire from start to finish and feed it logs and stuff?

Today we collected leaves. I will be leaving them out to dry. Then the pyromania will begin...

I know all of my kosherkidz readership wants to know what happened with my children and this project. Through more luck than judgement it was a success.

 First we sorted the leaves into live and dried.
 Then I made the girls promise to stand behind a line and not touch. The words "hot" and "fire" were used repeatedly. We also got a bucket of water handy. Just in case.
 And then we lit the leaves on fire!
 Needless to say, the dry ones burned quickly. The green ones extinguished themselves.
 [We looked at the glowing embers and I told my girls to look at how shinny they were. Later I told them the midrash of Moshe touching the embers and burning his tongue. See story here]
 When it was cool, the girls were desperate to feel the leaf ash and compare it to the living leaves.

We compared how for us the dried leaves burned quickly and the green leaves extinguished and that only Hashem could make the miracle of a burning bush, which burned and wasn't consumed.
We also reviewed fire safety, bush/forest fires, and not to touch matches.

Have a Safe and Wonderful Shabbat!

Friday, 13 December 2013

Vayechi Bless You

No project for the girls this week! 

Instead I made something for them. Parasha Vayechi has, among other things, the beautiful words of 'Hamalach Hagoel Oti". The words, a prayer asking for protection of children, is a common lullaby.

הַמַּלְאָךְ הַגֹּאֵל אֹתִי
הַמַּלְאָךְ הַגֹּאֵל אֹתִי מִכָּל-רָע,
יְבָרֵךְ אֶת-הַנְּעָרִים,
וְיִקָּרֵא בָהֶם שְׁמִי,
וְשֵׁם אֲבֹתַי אַבְרָהָם וְיִצְחָק;
וְיִדְגּוּ לָרֹב, בְּקֶרֶב הָאָרֶץ

May the Angel who has delivered me from all harm
Bless these youth. 

Let them be called by my name 
And the names of my fathers, 
Abraham and Isaac, 
And may they increase greatly 
Upon the Earth.

Wall art of these words are popular, but I decided to make my own. Using photos of the girls at different ages, I made a photo collage and included the aforementioned text.

I thought the girls would be excited.
"That's not fair! I want to do a project!" yelled Gabi. 
Cohava practiced reading the words on it and they enjoyed looking at the pictures but next week they will have a physical project. 
I guess I enjoy bedtime more than they do. 

We did discuss what making a bracha on a person means, as opposed to the bracha on an action. 

One morning this week I was in a bad mood. On the ride to school Cohava said, "I have an idea. Everyone in the car is going to give someone else a compliment and a bracha." It was a great idea. It erased my mood instantly and everyone enjoyed it. 

This is the last parasha in Sefer Beresheit. Although I have been blogging my parshiot for more than a year, this is the first sefer I have finished without missing a week. I will have an extra personal excitement of this when we say chazak chazak v'nitchazek. For my next photo project, I am going to make a photo book of Sefer Beresheit. 

May everyone's brachot be fulfilled (and your children sleep well at night!).

Friday, 6 December 2013

Vayigash- The sweet sound of truth

Two weeks ago, in parashat Vayeshev, the blog was about telling the truth and the consequence of a lie. This week, in parashat Vayigash, the brothers finally come clean about their enormous lie. 
But once you have told a lie, and maintained it for more than two decades, how easy is it to be honest and be believed? Like the famous parable, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Yaakov does not believe his sons when they return from Egypt and declare Yosef still alive. The Torah states that 'his heart did not believe', which is an interesting distinction. Maybe intellectually he understood the truth, but his heart could not accept the double facts of his ten lying sons and Yosef being alive.
The midrash explains that in order to ease Yaakov's heart, this earth-shattering information was shared through music. Serach, the daughter of Asher, played the harp for Yaakov and sang to him of Yosef's status. The music calmed Yaakov and made him able to accept the truth. Serach was rewarded with remarkable longevity.

I had hoped that the importance of honesty we discussed in Vayeshev would have made a bigger impact on my children. Sadly fibs are still be uttered so this week, in the very little free time we had, we talked about Serach's great mitzvah of telling the truth. 
We were going to make 'harps' for a physical representation of the truth. But there wasn't time. So we only spoke about the differences between string, wind, and percussion instruments. 
If we had made them, with rubber bands and boxes, coat hangers, or baking pans they would have looked something like this:

Shabbat Shalom!

We did try it. I found a pyrex dish worked best for a base. The girls each chose something from the recycling bin and made some music. 

Miketz- Fun or dysfunction

This has been a wonderful and busy week! Hannukah, Thanksgiving, and lots of guests!
My parents, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew all came to visit. With so much going on there was not a great emphasis on parashat miketz.
I hadn't seen my brother, Samuel, in more than four years, which of course does not compare to Yosef's alienation from his brothers. And when Samuel came to visit it was not under any duress. By one of my brothers didn't come. So I thought about imprisoning Samuel, and then holding him hostage until my other brother was brought to me, and then hiding the kiddush cup in Samuel's luggage...

But instead we just had a lovely time together. (almost) No dysfunction. Lots of fun! I am thankful to have my family and not Yaakov's.

photos by Luci Varon

May everyone's family be blessed with good health, happiness, and minimal dysfunction.