Saturday, 31 January 2015

I am a Seahawks Fan. I am a Jew.

Let me start with a confession: I am not a sports fan. The value of watching adults chase a ball is lost on me. However the value of the camaraderie between sports fan is something I hold in the highest esteem.  A fan shares great fervor with countless other fans at every win, and feels a shared sense of pain at a loss. The passion and devotion for each player is shared by each fan, regardless of socio-economic background, upbringing, or geographic location. Being a fan unites people who might otherwise have nothing in common.

Being a Seahawks fan is truly special. From everyone’s role as ‘the 12th man’, to being a team of winners, we have a special status. Last year an estimated 700,000 strangers joined together to welcome home the victorious Seahawks. Some fans wear their loyalty, in Seahawks colors and attire, while others carry the loyalty in their heart. Either way, the people of Seattle and Seahawks fans internationally share a special bond, a brotherhood.

How does this special bond compare to the bond of being Jewish? People often ask if Judaism is a religion, race, or ethnicity. It encompasses all of those and beyond. Let’s compare it to the camaraderie of Seahawks fans. Although the enthusiasm for Jewish holidays does not rival the excitement for the Super Bowl, the unity is still there. The thrill of a success and the pain or embarrassment of another Jew’s mistakes is felt within us. The same diversity in background exists in the Jewish community. A Jew is a Jew no matter where they come from or what they look like.  And even when we don’t realize it, we have a shared bond.

I recently heard a story about a congregant of SBH who was playing poker at a casino. He excused himself from the game by saying, “Sorry, I need to go pishar.” A stranger at the table looked up and said, “Did you just say ‘pishar’?” The man was flustered. “Sorry. I meant umm…” “Are you Sephardic?” the stranger continued,”That is the word I use for going to the bathroom! It is Ladino, but no one else…” The two men hugged and became firm friends.

We share a language, a culture, a history, a religion, a brotherhood. All the Seahawks fans who did not attend that massive rally are still fans, just as Jews who do not regularly attend synagogue are not less in their Jewish identity. Some Jews wear their devotion in their attire, like a Seahawks jersey, but many more carry their Judaism in their heart.

Football season ends very soon. Many will put away their jerseys and focus their energies on other commitments and interests until next year. But the Jewish calendar never ends, and we continue from one celebration to another. From Shabbat to Purim to Pesach, enjoy celebrating the camaraderie, the brotherhood of being Jewish.  The seating capacity at Sephardic Bikur Holim isn’t the same as CenturyLink Field, but we can help you find a good seat.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Plagues of Fun: Vaera

In Parashat Vaera we learn about seven of the ten plagues. I like to teach them as thoroughly as possible now, so when we learn about Pesach in a few months (I don't want to think about how soon that is going to be!) this part of the lesson is review.

Everyone makes frogs, and there are countless cute methods, by my plan was to try something else. We went for boils and hail!

Big Boils!
We mixed up a batch of red puff paint glue.

elmers glue
shaving cream
tempera paint

Pour a tablespoon of glue into a medium sized bowl. Add an equal amount of paint. Then add about half a cup of shaving cream. Stir really well. It looks like a dessert item and paints like a dream. When dry, the paint has a raised, puffy texture, sort of like a real boil!


Using Q-tips, we applied boils to a picture of Pharoh.

The children loved doing the project and kept saying, "Sorry Paroh!  Does that hurt? Maybe you should let Bnei Yisrael go free! Sorry Paroh!"

Tada! The students loved this painting experience so much they did it to a few other papers too.

Bouncy Ball Barad!
You can make your own bouncy balls. They do not work as well as store bought ones, but they are equally cool. 'Barad' is hail. Big balls of ice (or in this case, rubbery material) which fall from the sky. During the plagues the ice had fire within it as well, so we made red and white bouncy balls.


 Each child had a cup with warm water and a tablespoon of borax (the safety concerns of Borax were addressed) and they stirred it with a popsicle stick.  While they stirred, I mixed one part corn starch to two parts elmers glue. They I added about a tablespoon of my mixture to each kids cup. They stirred and counted to ten and pulled out a stringy glob and rolled it into a ball. Meanwhile I added red and orange paint to the remaining glue compound (for the fire part of the hail). This was added to everyone's remaining borax water. Then the two globs were to be joined in one ball.                                                                      
When I tried it at home the students immediately began bouncing the balls around the room and throwing them onto the Pharoh doll. Everyone had a blast. When I did it at home, Tova spent a lot of time yelling, "Ball ball!" while her big sisters experimented about where the ball best bounces.

 The balls do go a bit flat if left out. They can easily be reshaped. Keeping them in the fridge minimizes this problem.