Posted in Jewish Parenting, Jewish Technology for Kids, Passover

Five Jewish Youtube Channels to Subscribe To!

Good morning everyone!

I hope you  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.
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Posted in Jewish Technology for Kids

A FREE Passover App for Jewish Kids!

It always amazes me how proficient today’s children are with technology. I remember when I was a child, my family finally got a computer. They had to hook it up into the phone jack and we listened to that “dial up” sound as we waited to be connected to the mysterious internet! My how times have changed. Now my own child can navigate around an iPad like it’s an extension of her body, and she is slowly mastering her favorite kid websites.

So naturally with every Jewish holiday, I try and see what new bits of technology and programs are out there for Jewish families. One of my favorite companies, G-dcast, has created a FREE app for iTunes called, “Let’s Get Ready for Passover”. In this simple, fun app children can explore around an animated house and get rid of all items that are not kosher-for-Passover.

A must have app for every Jewish family!
A must have app for every Jewish family!

If you enjoy this app, I also encourage you to visit the G-dcast website. There you will find links, apps, and videos created by them for the whole family to enjoy. Here is their latest video to teach young children about the story of Passover. Enjoy everyone!

 

Posted in Jewish Technology for Kids

Big Hero 6 Teaches Jewish Values

“Hello. I am Baymax, your personal healthcare companion”.

"Fluffy baby... fluffy baaaaaby"".
“Hairy baby… Hairy baaaaaby””.

I definitely needed Baymax this past week. As the first day of Spring came and went I knew it was truly Spring when the pollen hit the air and my entire family began coughing and sneezing. I love Spring just as much as the next person, but being sick is just not fun. So my apologies on the delay of this post.

If you’ve been following along in my blog, you’d know that every Saturday we take time as a family to disconnect and have “family day”. This Shabbos was a bit different. Laying in bed with a runny nose, and a deep cough I wondered, “How am I going to celebrate Shabbat this week?”. I knew we would light the candles. And I knew there was going to be store-bought Challah. But would we go out? My body just wasn’t feeling strong enough. So ultimately we brought family day inside!

I decided that watching a movie as a family together would be the perfect thing to keep everything low-key but still get quality time together. Thankfully Amazon.com had “Big Hero 6” for Instant Viewing Rental for $5.99. (That sure beats the movie theater, huh?). What I didn’t expect was this movie would be as amazing as Wall-E, AND it would give an obvious Jewish lesson in the process.

Set in futuristic San Francisco, Hiro Hamada and his brother Tadashi are robot fanatics and geniuses who use their intelligence to help change the world for the better. After a series of unfortunate events Hiro “meets” Baymax, the friendly personal healthcare robot, designed by his big brother Tadashi. What Hiro doesn’t expect is that Baymax becomes far more then just a robot. He becomes a friend, mentor, and role model. Baymax demonstrates throughout the movie just what true love and kindness is all about.

In Judaism we have the saying “hab rachmones” (pronounced Hub- Rach- Mones). It means, “to have mercy”. Big Hero 6 teaches children that sometimes life can be unfair. Sometimes things happen that we cannot explain and then we are left with emotional pain. But it’s how we deal with the pain that matters. Baymax teaches Hiro that one should “have mercy” even to those who don’t necessarily deserve it.

This movie is 1 hr and 48 min of cinematic genius. I can’t wait until it comes out on DVD. It will definitely be a great addition in our home. I hope you all go see and enjoy the movie soon. Have a great day everyone!

Posted in Jewish Technology for Kids, Purim

Veggietales as a Jewish Tool?

Veggietales, let’s talk about it. Purim just recently came and went. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with your friends and family. I wanted to take a moment to talk about a video that some Jewish families use while celebrating Purim with young children, “Veggietales: Esther, the Girl Who Became Queen”.

For those of you who are new to the Veggietales circle, they are a Christian company who produces wholesome biblical videos (and now TV shows) for young children. That being said, I have read enough articles to know that the subject of incorporating anything Christian affiliated into the Jewish home can be a “hot topic”. So for the sake of being unbiased I will share my views on both sides.

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Veggietales: Esther, the Girl who Became Queen” is a 40-ish minute movie that recalls the Book of Esther in a way that young children can understand. I have seen plenty of Veggietales movies in my time and I always squirmed at the end of the program when QWERTY (the friendly, biblical computer) popped up with a bible verse that was always from the Christian New Testament. However, this movie has none of that. Gone are the Bob and Larry introductions whilst reading letters from children asking questions about life lessons. Gone are the dancing peas and QWERTY-given wisdom. Instead, this movie solely focuses on Esther (being Jewish) and her dear cousin Mordechai conquering evil Hamen and banishing him to “The Isle of Perpetual Tickling”.

 Pros: As a Jewish parent it can be very difficult to find Jewish videos and TV shows that are geared towards the holidays. After watching this movie I thought it was cute and a loose way to show Jewish children what the story of Esther is all about. Should it replace hearing the Megillah reading? Absolutely not. But the songs are very upbeat and I could appreciate Veggietales substituting the gallows for the “Isle of Perpetual Tickling”. Overall I can see it being a fun, movie for Jewish families to snuggle up while eating a freshly baked hamentashen. If we can incorporate rainbow hamentashen into our Purim schedule why not use this movie as a fun Jewish technological tool?

Cons: I once read an article on Kveller.com that was titled, “Actually You Can’t Celebrate Hanukkah AND Christmas”. I found myself agreeing with many of the points that the author wrote. I love being creative and putting a “twist” on Jewish traditions, but there is only so far that I’m willing to go. I must admit that there will always be a very traditional side of me that, as a mother, will stand firm in teaching my child about their identity as a Jew. Will a biblical movie about the Book of Esther confuse my child? I don’t know. I am inclined to say no because I would only use it as a supplementary tool to the overall experience of celebrating Purim. Lest we forget that the four mitzvot of Purim are: having a festive meal, mishloach manot, hearing the megillah read, and giving tzedakah. Also, while the Veggietales movie is fair in its explaination, we shouldn’t forget that Shalom Sesame also has several great videos about Purim that they have posted for Jewish children. You can view them on the PJ Library site here. This movie should be taken with a grain of salt and when your child/ren are old enough they should hear the story of Esther in its proper form.

So you be the judge. Do you think that a movie like this from a Christian company is a good tool to use at Purim?

Posted in Jewish Technology for Kids

Shema at Bedtime App

I admit that I have never been a very tech- savvy person. I try to keep up with developing trends but there will always be a piece of me that remembers using a rotary phone and having to actually turn a dial on the television. However, as a Jewish parent I am amazed at how many wonderful websites, apps, and such are out there for young Jewish children today.

Choosing to raise your child Jewish isn’t an easy task. Yes, it is a way of life. But there isn’t a manual that Jewish parents are handed that says, “Start here. Complete steps 1-100 and tada! You have a successful, well-rounded mensch”. If only, right? No, it’s far more complicated then that. Between explaining why you live your life differently then mainstream lifestyle and deepening your child’s understanding of their heritage and culture– Jewish parents are constantly busy!

So we begin with the basics. The most basic prayer in Judaism is the Shema. Such a simple prayer and yet it is a pillar of our religion. The Shema proclaims the Oneness of G-d. It proclaims that among all the beautiful, diverse religions in the world, we as Jews, believe that there is one G-d and He is the ruler of all things. The prayer goes as follows:

Sh’ma Yis-ra-eil, A-do-nai E-lo-hei-nu, A-do-nai E-chad.

Hear, O Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One.

 

But how do we teach young children to say the Shema? Yes, for centuries Jewish parents have cradled children in their arms and hummed this soft, prayer over and over until their child was praying alongside them. That is a tradition that I don’t think should ever change. However, for all you iPhone and Apple enthusiasts out there I have some exciting news for you. There is a fantastic Jewish App called Bedtime Shema for Jewish Children. This app is FREE (yes you heard that correctly) and has a gentle child’s voice that teaches young, Jewish children the Shema through a series of colorful, pictures. Your child will go through the bedtime routine in the App before finally covering their eyes while laying in bed and singing along to the Shema. I know my child was thrilled to do this App every single night.

While I love the nostalgia of old-fashioned things, technology can surprise even me sometimes. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite songs on this very subject. Enjoy this app and have a wonderful day everyone!