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 Passover

Au Revoir Passover!

As Passover draws to a end for the year I am taking a moment to reflect on what I’ve learned. Pesach has reminded me to be humble, and thankful for all that I have. Never had I have to walk across a desert to reach freedom. Never have I been put in a situation where my rights as a citizen have been violated. So today, I am thankful for having life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In a world where life can be taken away in the blink of an eye, I am thankful for time. Such a precious, intangible thing that is so often taken for granted. I an immensely thankful for the hours, minutes, and seconds I spend with my loved ones. I look at my family and feel like my life is truly complete. They say that love is measured not in how much money you earn, but by the number of times you laugh, sing, dance, and dream. Moses followed the word of G-d despite all odds. Did he ever have reservations? Did he dream of a life where the Jewish people would be free? In the face of such adversity G-d protected our people and lead them to freedom in the Promised Land. So today, I am remembering to measure my life in how I spend the quality of time.

Matzo Brei (fried matzah)
Matzo Brei (fried matzah)

Passover has taught me to be disciplined. Long ago before corporate companies dominated the food industry there wasn’t even a food industry! Our people fled Egypt with unleavened bread and searched for life anew. On Passover we eat matzah to remember the struggle on having to leave everything with such haste. What discipline it must have taken to leave everything you have behind! All week we have had to turn away from kitniyot and chametz and eat only things that are kashrut (kosher). So today, I am taking a moment to savor the sweetness of matzah brei and be thankful for the discipline that Pesach instills in us each year.

Before I go crawl into the bed and snuggle up with my little one to watch “The Prince of Egypt” as our annual Passover tradition, I will leave you with this final thought: If Passover teaches us anything, it is that no one should be oppressed. The story of the Exodus, G-d’s divine intervention in Moses’ life from birth through adulthood… all of it is truly a miracle. But people today are still being oppressed. G-d has given us the tools, the mental capacity, and the wisdom to stand up for others. He has taught us right from wrong and so it is time for us to fight against injustice. May these invaluable lessons we learn each Passover stick with us, and our children throughout the many years to come. Until tomorrow everyone! Have a wonderful evening. ❤

The last meal of Passover 2015!
The last meal of Passover 2015!
Posted in Passover

Man Plans, and God Laughs

“I’ve got this…. I’ve got this…” I whispered softly to myself, yesterday morning as I began preparing the Passover brisket. Earlier this week I was running all over town getting the last bits of ingredients and things I needed for my seder. I am a woman of lists, so despite having typed up an original list, there were handwritten scribbles of extra things I suddenly remembered all over it.

As we dashed from store to store I kept checking things off until finally the sun was beginning to set, and everything was purchased. Following this recipe that reminded me so much of the brisket my Mom makes at home, I carefully began chopping the onions to place on top of the roast. “Mom!” my angel called, bouncing into the kitchen, “I am going to ask the Four Questions, right?”. “Right” I said, chopping the onions and looking over at her every now and then. “What are they again?” she asked. Again I looked away and began to think… and chop… Ouch! The kitchen knife sliced my finger. The next 120 seconds were a flurry of cold water and a good ol’ fashioned Band-Aid. “Okay, Mommy needs to focus right now. Then we will talk about the Four Questions, okay?” I said, frowning at my finger. My daughter skipped off dreaming of what the Afikomen “prize” might be.

Now onto the Potato Kugel. I froze in fear. I forgot the potatoes. I actually forgot to buy potatoes for potato kugel! How does that happen? I smacked my forehead and quickly sent my DH a text message, “Honey I need you to pick up potatoes… stat!”. A bell chimed a moment later, “roger roger 😉 ” he replied and I chuckled. Oh well, I’ll move onto the dessert for now. I thought about making a flourless Chocolate Cake like I’ve seen so many times, but feeling adventurous I decided to make a raw Vegan dessert for Passover. This recipe in Green Kitchen Stories made my mouth water. Kosher-for-Passover Vegan “Cheesecake”. They call it Flower Power Cake which made me chuckle and like it even more. Soaked Cashews form the filling, along with lemon and spices. (I added a bit of plain Greek Yogurt to thicken the consistency and add a punch of flavor). Nuts, seeds, and dates blended form the crust, and frozen crushed raspberries freeze over the top for a fruity, delicious, and very healthy dessert!

My Flower Power Cake!
My Flower Power Cake!

 

Except for the part where I somehow forgot to purchase dates too. I scrambled sending my husband a flurry of messages, “O.M.G. I forgot dates too! I think you’ll need to go to Costco. Message me when you’re there and I’ll tell you where they are in the store, OK?”

Finally he chimed back.

“I’m here! Anything else that you need, Dear?”. How is he so patient?

“Not that I can think of but let me see…”. I paused and really double checked all of my recipes.

“Take your time, I’m just enjoying the free samples” he said.

“Make sure they don’t conflict with Passover!” I said, though I couldn’t help but smiling.

“I think God is laughing at this point.” My husband replied, in his true humorous fashion.

“Yeah… I think so too.”

 

So finally everything was cooked. The brisket smelled heavenly. The potato kugel was crisp and enormous. ( I will have leftovers for days!). The salad was tossed and ready to go. And my delicious Flower Power Cake was chilled in the freezer and ready to be devoured. We set our simple Seder table and began reading out loud from our Haggadahs. As I sang along to “Dayenu”, (Yes, after much begging we did use The Maccabeats version), I smiled from ear to ear. This is what Passover is all about. We were slaves in Egypt, but now we are free! Free to enjoy seeing our children, our spouses, and our friends all gathered together in love and peace. Free to eat delicious food. What a beautiful thing it is to be free…

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Chag Sameach Everyone! I hope your first night of Passover was wonderful! 🙂

Posted in Passover

10 Passover Commandments for Jewish Parents

1. Thou shall not bash yourself for “cutting corners” on the seder menu. Pesach is a time to enjoy being together as a family. It is a time for reflection and a time for gratitude. Break out the slow cooker. Make things ahead of time. But most importantly, take time to actually enjoy the holiday.

2. Thou shall not engage in the argument of kitniyot. Ashkenazi Jews do not eat rice, corn, legumes, etc. in addition to chametz (bread, grains, etc.) during Passover. However, what you eat during the holidays and how you choose to observe is up to YOU! So take a breath and the next time someone gives you “the eye” as you’re putting mustard on your food just smile and ignore.

3. Thou shall relax a little on letting the children consumes sweets during Pesach. Now I’m not saying let the kids get a “sugar high” until their tummies ache. Certainly not! But a healthy sweet (think: dark chocolate matzo) each day during Passover won’t hurt, will it?

4. Thou shall take time to sing, dance, and play with your children. Yes, you may already be tired of hearing The Maccabeats on repeat, but you know what? Hearing your child sing “Dayenu” for the millionth time is actually teaching them a traditional song. They are learning. So sing, dance, and be merry!

5. Thou shall enlist help when you are feeling overwhelmed. You have scrubbed your pots to ensure they are Kosher. You have shined a light to get rid of chametz. You have cooked, cleaned, and set the seder table. What happens afterward? It’s time to clean everything up! You are only one person. If you need help, speak up. Ask loved ones to help in the kitchen. Perhaps they can bring a dish to make it a potluck seder and save you cooking time! Whatever you need to do, minimize your stress and elevate your fun.

6. Thou shall not get irritated at little attention spans. The seder can be a long, process for the littlest bodies at the table. Beyond plenty of Passover arts and crafts available to keep children occupied, enter the seder with a relaxed mind and heart. Understand that it is okay if children need to get up and move, (especially if you are having a more traditional seder!).

7. Thou shall tell stories of Passover when you were young to your children. Kids want to hear about what life was like when you were a child. They want to feel connected to something bigger. They want to hear those stories that are in the back of your mind. So tell them about Pesach as you remember it as a child. I’m sure they will love it as much as you will love telling it to them.

8. Thou shall be ready to change plans at a moments notice. There is the old saying, “people plan, and G-d laughs”. Passover is one of those holidays where is much planning and preparation. Allow yourself a break and a moment to laugh when your child messes their diaper at the table. Or perhaps little fingers spill grape juice on their formal clothes. Smile, and let yourself laugh at the beauty of life. Expect the unexpected and you will never be disappointed.

9. Thou shall not count calories at the seder table. With all the calorie counting and carb-cutting that we do on an average day, Passover is a time to enjoy yourself. We are commanded to recline on pillows, drink wine, and be merry! There is not time to count calories. (Save it for tomorrow 😉 ).

10. Thou shall have a sense of humor. What a beautiful thing it is that our people have lived and persevered throughout history. What a miracle that after so many tragic events in Jewish history, here we stand to be able to still celebrate Pesach with our children and their children. Laugh… let joy fill your heart, mind, and soul… and laugh!

Chag Sameach Everyone! Happy Passover! 

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(Photo Source)

Posted in Passover

The 2015 Passover Must-Have Resource List!

Happy Thursday Everyone!

It’s the day before Pesach and there is so much to do! If you’re busy getting rid of chametz and building a menu for your loved ones I bet you feel the same way I do– busy and focused! But never fear, I have been compiling a list of some great recipes, fun printables, and even a Haggadah pdf, to make your life just a tiny bit easier (and mine more organized!). I hope as we all begin Passover tomorrow at sundown that you pause to reflect on the special moments with your family. I hope that you eat delicious food, sing all of our favorite songs, (and even some new ones too!), and create memories that will last a lifetime. Have an amazing day and keep smiling!

 

2015 Passover Resource List:

Printable Haggadah:

http://uuja.org/holidays/lit/OrangesandOlivesHaggadah.pdf

“Oranges and Olives” is a great Modern Haggadah that is long enough to cover every section (approx. 1 hr. worth of content) while still respecting people outside of Judaism. Written by a woman who was the director of Religious Education at a Reform synagogue, and is now the head of Jewish Education at a Unitarian Universalist Church, this Haggadah is perfect for interfaith families to use and follow along.

Not feeling an Interfaith Haggadah? Or perhaps you want something short and sweet? Check out this list of FREE printable Haggadahs from all sorts of Jewish sites and find the one that works best for you! :

Short Passover Seders – Free Online Pesach Haggadahs

 

Food/ Recipe Articles and Ideas for Passover:

1. Creamy Sorrel Soup with Harissa Recipe from Modern Jewish Cooking

https://www.yahoo.com/food/creamy-sorrel-soup-with-harissa-recipe-from-113967971851.html

2. Smoked Salmon Crepe Recipe for Passover

https://www.yahoo.com/food/smoked-salmon-crepe-recipe-for-passover-114377999476.html

3. Matzo Granola Recipe from Modern Jewish Cooking

https://www.yahoo.com/food/matzo-granola-recipe-from-modern-jewish-cooking-113967910746.html

4. 8 Passover Desserts for a Sweet Seder

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-segal/8-passover-desserts-for-a-sweet-seder_b_6928364.html

5. Passover Sweets use Fresh Nut Meals for a Rich, Flavorful Batter

http://www.latimes.com/food/la-fo-passover-20150328-story.html

6. Matzo Brei Recipes for Passover, or Whenever the Mood Strikes

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/30/matzo-brei_n_1400489.html

7. Vegan Flower Power Cake for Passover (Raw Vegan Dessert)

Flower Power Cake

8. 5 healthy, Kid-Friendly Passover Dessert Recipes

http://ecowatch.com/2015/03/31/passover-desserts-recipes/

9. 25 Vegetarian Recipes for Your Passover Seder

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/blog/food/2015/03/30/25-vegetarian-recipes-for-your-passover-seder/

 

Great Websites with FREE Passover Printables for Kids: 

1. A Jewish Homeschool Blog:

http://jewishhomeschool.blogspot.com/p/printables-and-activity-packs.html

2. Torah Tots: Pesach Is Here!

http://www.torahtots.com/holidays/pesach/pesach.htm

3. Chabad.com Jewish Printables for Kids:

http://www.chabad.org/kids/article_cdo/aid/354789/jewish/Printables.htm

 

Great Movies for Passover: 

1. The Prince of Egypt

This classic Disney movie re-tells the biblical story of the Exodus while keeping things simple. The music is out-of-this-world good, and it truly reflects the oppression and liberation of the Jewish people accurately. Definitely a must-see during Pesach. Rated: PG

2. Patch Adams

Who doesn’t love a great Robin Williams movie? (May he R.I.P.). When teaching children about the meaning of Passover and why we still celebrate the holiday, it is great to incorporate some of the themes of Passover into our lives. Having compassion for others is one theme that we can learn from Passover, and “Patch Adams” is a fantastic movie that teaches children to help others no matter where or what they look like. (Note: This movie might be a little too much for very young children. Use at your own discretion). Rated: PG-13

3. Earth to Echo 

This 2014 movie is about a group of kids who are normally considered the “outcasts” in their school. One night they find a robot that falls from outer space and who longs to go home. (Think, a new updated E.T.). So these group of kids get creative to help Echo, their friendly robot, find a way home. In the process, they learn a little bit about love and friendship. This movie would be a nice movie to show children when teaching about freedom. Rated: PG

 

Music for Passover:

What is a seder without music?! 😀 I have compiled 2 music lists for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy both a traditional list and a modern one. Chag Sameach!

Traditional Music:

Modern Music:

 

keep-calm-and-happy-passover-2

 

Posted in Passover

The Great Macaroon Debate

For some time now I have heard of the “Joy of Kosher” website. It’s a fabulous little site to find recipes and holiday ideas by Jamie Geller. With Passover almost upon us I find myself scrambling to put together a menu that reflects my inner foodie but remains true to staples that I have loved since I was a child. As I sat with pen and paper in hand I was staring at the word “dessert” for a while drawing a complete blank. Do I go the traditional route and have macaroons? Or do I go ultra-modern with the new Matzo-S’mores that are the latest Passover trend?

I admit that there are certain times when I feel almost overwhelmed by the culinary choices out there for each holiday. Passover has been no exception. It seems like every time I turn around there are new articles screaming, “Cook this!” or “Eat that!” for Pesach. So I took a deep breath and headed into my local grocery store.

As I meandered down the Kosher aisle I saw several types of macaroons. I knew there was coconut (traditional) and chocolate chip (my favorite as a child) … but Red Velvet Macaroons? What? Now I will admit that I have always had a secret love of red Velvet Cake. I try and eat a bit healthier these days, but I couldn’t resist trying these macaroons. How would they stack up to the original coconut macaroon? Would it be worth the money spent? So I decided to do a taste-test and write all about it!

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The Red Velvet Macaroons weren’t at all what I had expected. There are now frozen cupcakes with cream cheese frosting fillings so I suppose my brain thought that the cream cheese flavor would resonate somewhere in these tiny confections. However I was mistaken. The Red Velvet Macaroons were more crunchy and had the consistency of a cookie rather then a macaroon. They also had a slight “burnt” after-taste which I did not find pleasant. The one thing that I was looking for in these macaroons was that slightly sweet, red velvet flavor. I felt that it lacked an overall flavor. The coconut was drowned out by all of the other ingredients trying to mock red velvet cake. Overall, it lacked in every aspect and I was sadly disappointed. I don’t even think pairing these macaroons with a homemade cream cheese frosting would make them much more edible.

The classic coconut macaroon by Gefen was much more tasty. This simple Passover dessert is everything you expect from a macaroon. Full of sweet, coconut flavor that is not too rich but just enough to keep your hand reaching into the can again and again. Despite the bottom of the cookies being a deep, golden brown there was no burnt after-taste. Overall the macaroon tasted lighter and much more enjoyable. While both brands were Kosher-for-Passover there was a clear “winner” in which product I would go back and purchase again.

Perhaps this year at my seder I will have a balance of both classic Coconut Macaroons and something more modern. What are you having for dessert at your seder? Have a great day everyone!

Posted in Passover

How Are You Preparing Your Child For Passover?

Hello everyone!

This week is the week before Pesach begins. There is much to do. Clean the house, get rid of all chametz, and prepare LOTS of delicious kosher-for-Passover goodies! I really enjoy having a seder every year with my family. Growing up in the Deep South, Jewish Cuisine took a character all on it’s own. Recently I read an article, “What Is Jewish Southern Food?” and it made me smile.

Jewish Southern food, especially for Passover, has a flair that is completely unique. Smoked salmon and Brisket were common items to see around my family’s home during the holidays. Everyone swooned at the taste of my grandma’s chopped liver and onions and ate it eagerly with matzah. While I have my own seder table now, I will still be implementing many of the recipes from my childhood I love so much. (More on that in my Passover posts!)

In the meantime, it is just as important to educate our young children on why we celebrate Passover. Yes, we will be watching “The Prince of Egypt” as part of our annual tradition. And yes, my child can recite the biblical story forward, backward, and everything in between. But I wanted to take the meaning of freedom a bit deeper. What does it mean to be free?

Nelson-Mandela-Freedom-Quotes

Freedom is something we all often take for granted. In Judaism we are often called to stand up on behalf of those who have no voice. We stand up against injustice. We stand up to help make the world a better place. Still today in 2015 many people do not live in freedom. In Africa, men, women, and children are slaughtered by Boko Haram. In Indonesia, thousands of Burmese (Myanmar) immigrants are taken into slavery and worked brutally aboard fishing boats to send seafood into the global market. It is 2015… and still we have slavery. Still these people do not have freedom.

So this year at my seder table we will be discussing gratitude for all that we have, and how we can help others in the world. My family will pray for those suffering all around the world, and pray that they one day find peace and freedom.

Have a wonderful, thoughtful, day everyone. Hug your loved ones and keep smiling. Until next time!