Posted in Jewish Parenting, Jewish Technology for Kids, Passover

Five Jewish Youtube Channels to Subscribe To!

Good morning everyone!

I hope you ย all are having a wonderful day. In my home, I incorporate technology a lot to enhance learning. In other words, I’m fine if my child is face down on the ipad as long as it’s something educational. So it’s no surprise that such a young age, my daughter is able to navigate Youtube For Kids and has her favorite channels. That got me thinking about my favorite channels for Jewish learning. Youtube can be an excellent source for much more then just music. You can find episodes from “Shalom Sesame”, Hebrew alphabet videos, you name it! With a plethora of Jewish links and resources at our fingertips I wanted to share with you my top 5 favorite Jewish Youtube channels that I think are definitely worth subscribing to. Enjoy the list everyone and have a wonderful day!

  • Shalom Sesame – It doesn’t get much better then this folks! Sesame street as we know it in America gets turned on it’s head with this Israeli version in Shalom Sesame. If you need a fun, upbeat, music-filled video to teach your child all about the Jewish holidays, or core Jewish values, then Shalom Sesame is the place to subscribe. I have used their videos countless times to visually show my daughter how children in Israel celebrate the holidays. It’s fantastic and never gets boring.
  • Shaboom! – Created by the wonderfully creative people over at BimBam (formerly G-dcast) this Jewish animated kids show is a fun, cartoon show that teaches core Jewish values. So before your child sits down to cartoon network, try swapping out those cartoons for Shaboom! The whole family will be happy watching Gabi and Rafael go on their adventures.
  • Rebbetzin Tap- I absolutely love Rebbetzin Tap’s music and videos for the holidays. She has a DVD available for purchase on Amazon, but most of the clips for the holidays are available for FREE on her Youtube channel! Her warm personality and creative use of props and set design is sure to keep your little ones entertained.
  • My Jewish Learning– Not only is their website a “must” for all things educational or recipes, (I definitely scope our their site often), but their channel offers wonderful educational videos for older teens and adults to enjoy. You can hear the sounds of the shofar, and learn how to put on tefillin. So go ahead and dive on in!
  • Kveller- I admit that I browse the kveller site daily because I thoroughly love reading the guest blogger articles. Reading the perspectives of different Jewish parents over a wide range of topics is absolutely fascinating, so it’s only natural that I show some love for their Youtube channel.
Posted in Jewish Parenting

Welcoming in Spring!

I love Spring! The weather is not too hot, not too cold but just right. I sound like Goldilocks now. But in all seriousness, I really love Spring! It’s not that I dislike winter, but my immune system doesn’t like the cold weather all that much. But finally Spring is here! The Sun is staying out longer, the hummingbirds are fluttering in the trees and bushes, and the weather is just calling for me to come play outside.

So this weekend we made it a family mission to enjoy Spring. While every store is decking their halls with plastic eggs and pastel confetti, as a Jewish family we decided to take a more nature-focused approach to the season. We began by making a Spring wreath activity. As a family we went on a nature walk to our local park. After picking up a wicker “skeleton” wreath from Target ($3.00) we grabbed a canvas bag and set off to find flowers, branches, and anything to weave into a beautiful natural Spring wreath! It was a blast finding flowers, weeping willow branches, and tall pond grass to weave through our wreath. In the end I think it turned out pretty great!

Our Spring Wreath
Our Spring Wreath

Next, we picked up several books from our local craft store. The Little Golden Books Collection: “I Am A Bunny” and “Two Little Gardeners”. “I Am A Bunny” is a wonderful board book with vibrant pictures. This books talks about a little bunny who loves everything about Spring. Page by page he describes all of his favorite things. Then as the season changes he describes how he prepares for winter. When at last the snow finally falls the little bunny falls into peaceful slumbers in his hollow tree and dreams of the day that Spring is here again. ๐Ÿ™‚ My daughter and I loved snuggling up and reading it together.

“Two Little Gardeners” is a fantastic emergent reader book (recommended grades 1-3). This book is the tale of a man and woman who diligently tend their garden every day. The book describes the growing process step by step with illustrations. At times the gardeners must be creative in protecting their harvest from little creatures who want to eat their garden up! But in the end they have a bountiful harvest and cook it up into a delicious supper. The book even talks about how the gardeners have so much produce that they can, and jam, to stock their shelves for the long winter. It was a fabulous Spring story that made me want to grow my own plants.

IMG_0404

Finally we wrapped up the evening with watching the latest movie, “Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Never Beast”. Okay, so this isn’t exactly a Spring-y movie, but who can resist the vibrant colors of Pixie Hollow and the adorable voice acting from all of the fairies. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. Happy Spring Everyone!

Posted in Jewish Parenting

I’m Sick of America’s Commercialism Mentality

This morning I woke up refreshed to start the day. My child traipsed into my bedroom pouting, “the leprechaun didn’t come last night”. Now let me pause a moment and preface this story. I encourage an active imagination. I love all things fairy, dragons, mythical creatures, etc. As a child I was a lover of unicorns and My Little Ponies. You get my drift. But there is also an importance for understanding what is real and what is not real. Now I don’t mean to be a Grinch. And I certainly don’t mean to squash any happy childhood memories for my angel by telling her that there is no Danny the Dreidel.

I think it is important for children to know and understand humility and how to be thankful at an early age. In my interfaith family my only child is very lucky to be showered with presents almost year-round. Hanukkah and Christmas roll around and there are toys to the rafters. Then her birthday comes and goes with presents and outings galore. Valentines Day brings on a new wave of chocolate hearts and stuffed animals. St. Patrick’s Day has leprechauns. Then no sooner are the shamrocks ripped down, are they replaced by plastic Easter eggs and marshmallow Peeps. Then once you recover from your diabetic coma from all things sweet, the grocery stores begin stocking the shelves for the 4th of July!

anti-commercialism

Eat! Eat! Eat!

Buy! Buy! Buy!

I am sick of it!ย 

This morning my daughter pouted about how the leprechaun didn’t leave her anything last night. “Honey… leprechauns are magical creatures that may or may not be real. But they don’t go around the world leaving presents to children”, I said gently. That didn’t sit well. I think she wanted a Santa Claus part II. “Well, Easter is coming up!” she said stubbornly. “No… ” I said quietly, looking at her, “people who are Christian celebrate Easter. We celebrate Passover, remember? We will have our seder, and make matzo brei and –“.

“But I saw it in the grocery store! Easter IS coming!” she said, crossing her arms across her chest.

As a Jewish mother I am more then annoyed that the battle of commercialism and holiday stuff continues on. Isn’t it bad enough that I have to spent 3-ish months a year explaining why we celebrate Hanukkah in our home and not Christmas? Isn’t it bad enough that I have to deal with my daughters tantrum once a year when I refuse to have a “Hanukkah Bush” in my living room? Now I have to deal with plastic eggs and stuffed bunnies too?

Come on America! How much stuff does our children really need? I would rather my child be thankful for all that she has. I would rather her be proud of her culture and identity. I want my child to have an appreciation for the things she gets rather then looking to the next holiday as an opportunity for us, the parents, to spend more and more money on her. Do I love gift-giving? Of course I do. I love seeing her eyes light up at a present that I worked so hard to pick out, wrap, and wait to surprise her. But I want her to have an appreciation for all of the hard work that went into getting that gift! Is that too much to ask? What are your thoughts?

Are we, as a nation, over-saturated with commercialism? Do you think children are raised with a different mentality towards commercialism and shopping then we were as kids? Comment on this post! I’d love to hear from you! Have a wonderful day everyone.

Posted in Jewish Parenting

Having “The Talk” With Your Child

“So Mommy, how exactly does a baby get in your tummy?”.

Um….

Okay, admittedly I thought it would be a few more years before I had to answer this question. Since my child was born I’ve agonized about the day when I would finally have to sit down and have “the chat” with her. You see, growing up my parents were much more conservative. Sex wasn’t a topic that was regularly spoken about. I assume their parents barely breathed the word. It just wasn’t done. But, like anything in evolution you live and learn and figure it out on your own– eventually. That is how I learned about sex. It was a hybrid-combination of school sex education (which was embarrassing at the very minimum) and real life experiences.

I wanted my daughter to have a different experience.

Still though as I sat there pondering my response I found myself blushing slightly. I decided to choose a scientific response. “Well like dogs, and cats, and other animals, we are mammals too”, I began. Okay I admit that I omitted much of the “actual” process-making and opted for simply saying, “And so when a daddy’s seed and a mommy’s egg are put together into a magic spell, a baby is made”. I left it at that. Taking a deep breath I thought her curiosity would be over for now. Nope! My little angel pressed on with more inquisitive questions.

“Mommy… why do you wear a pad sometimes?”.

I sat there and looked into her gorgeous, blue eyes. I don’t ever remember being so open and curious as she, but it amazed me how open, honest, and trusting she felt in me to be able to ask such questions. I felt honored, loved, and flattered that we have such an amazing mother-daughter relationship. “Well…” I began slowly, choosing my words with great care, “inside women lies an organ called the uterus”. “Uterus! What’s that?” she asked. “It’s the place where a baby stays to grow until it’s time to come out”. She nodded and listened intently. “Well, when a mommy doesn’t have a baby in there, the uterus has to get rid of its lining and –“.

“What’s a lining?” she chimed in, looking puzzled. How do I explain this? They really ought to make a chapter for this in the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book. But anyways….

“A lining is like… well it’s like a jacket” I said slowly. Her eyes studied me and I could tell she was envisioning an organ putting on a winter coat. I decided to roll with it. “So once a month the uterus gets too warm so it takes the jacket off. Only… you bleed. Not much! Just a little bit. And no, it doesn’t hurt.” I assured her quickly. I guess I expected her to be repulsed or mortified. I know I would have at that age, but instead she was more intrigued. (Perhaps she’ll grow to be a doctor one day?). “But if all the blood comes out of your body won’t you turn into a puddle and die?” she asked, looking at me very seriously. I stroked her cheek and smiled, “No, love, G-d made us in a very special way. We only bleed just a tiny bit and then it stops so the uterus can build a new jacket and wait again to take if off the next month”.

My Little nodded and bounced off the bed. My time in the “hot seat” was over for now, though I know more questions in the future will appear. Perhaps that dreaded moment really isn’t so bad. Perhaps, explaining about life and, okay bodily functions, really can be a bonding moment. For now, I’ll let her brain be satisfied with magic spells and “winter coats”. Eventually I’ll explain to her the importance of chocolate and a chick flick. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Have a great day everyone!

( PS- here’s a HILARIOUS video to make you laugh on this very subject)

Posted in Jewish Parenting

Choosing to Give Our Children Hope

Many years ago my mom sat down with me at the dinner table and said, “Choosing to be Jewish means understanding that you will be swimming up stream against the main current of society”. At the time I didn’t really understand the full depth of this statement. Fast forward to my life now and I understand it more than ever. With the recent tragic attacks on Jews all over the world, Jewish communities all around the world are changing how they act and having to protect themselves more then ever. Rabbi’s are learning self-defense classes. Parents are teaching their children about Anti-semitism and how to cope with it.

As a Jewish mother it makes me afraid for my child. What do I say to my child? Do we shield who we are and practice in secret as our ancestors did so long ago? It reminds me of the story of Hanukkah. Our people were under Greek rule by King Antiochus IV. The dreidel was created as a simple means of disguising the true intentions of Jews who secretly continued to study the Torah. When soldiers would walk by on patrol the men would quickly hide their books and pull out small tops and play with the children.

But Judah Maccabee had other ideas. He didn’t want to sit by in silence and in fear as his world was being dominated by the Greeks. He did not want to hide his Jewish identity and let the Greek army take away everything they had. So he and his small army fought back against their rule and were eventually victorious. Hanukkah is the only holiday on the calendar in which we are commanded to “let our light shine” to the world. So we place our hanukkiyot (menorahs) on the window sill to let the light shine to the world. For eight nights we say, “We are Jews. This is who we are and we are still here!”.

Chanukah 2006 001

 

Now the world is changing. As Jewish parents we have a choice to live in fear, or to rise above that fear and choose to cling to hope. A pillar of our beliefs is tikkun olam (repairing the world). Just as we have a duty to protect our families, so too do we have a duty to shine our light to the world and help others. Moving forward I choose to teach my daughter to be mindful of her surroundings. I will teach her that there are those in the world who do not like the way we live our life. However, I will teach her that who you are, and how you live your life and treat others is what is most important. I will remind her of all the times someone did a random act of kindness that helped us. The world is still filled with good, honorable people. It is that hope that I will hold on to and pass on to my child.

We are Jews, which means we are resilient, strong, and filled with hope. What will you choose?

e77b28b4feffd9a8565d8ae99ee66211