Category Archives: Books

The Best Jewish Children’s Books of 2016

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Since many of us are still scrambling to choose, buy, and wrap gifts for Hanukkah, Tablet’s list of the best Jewish children’s books of 2016 may come in handy. I Dissent, about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg looks intriguing, especially if you have a young lady to shop for.

At our house, we have always preferred educational toys. It’s nice to include fun and silly stuff, too, but learning gifts are the most important!

Books I Love – Sew Jewish

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Ever since I was in my teens, I’ve enjoyed collecting Judaica. Over the years, I’ve built up quite an assortment, but every piece was either given to me as a gift or I purchased it myself. Sew Jewish, a wonderful new book written by Maria Bywater, has inspired me to create some.

I first heard about this talented lady through her popular web site Huppahs.com. Not only does she make gorgeous, handmade canopies, she has designs for most every facet of Jewish life including holidays, Shabbos, and celebrations.

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Sew Jewish includes 18 fun yet practical projects:

  • Challah Cover
  • Dreidel Game Kit 
  • Mishloach Manot Boxes 
  • Matzah Cover
  • Hand Washing Towel
  • Havdalah Spice Pouch 
  • Wedding Huppah
  • Bridal Veil
  • Kippah/Yarmulke
  • Tallit
  • Hamsa
  • Tefillin Bag
  • Mezuzah Case
  • Tzedakah Jar Wrap
  • Mizrach
  • Tallit Bag
  • Shalom Pillow
  • Aleph-Bet Blanket

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You can’t help but feel inspired while thumbing through the pages. I saw many projects that I’d like to try; best of all, it’s something I can actually do! Many crafting books that I’ve seen claim to be simple, but are way more complicated than I can manage. (My enthusiasm for crafting greatly exceeds my ability!) Sew Jewish is truly for beginners. The last chapter—which I actually started with—is a treasure trove of practical advice about choosing/cutting fabric, hand and machine sewing, appliques, and markings.

I loved that the instructions are clear and concise and each project has large, traceable patterns that make sense and are easy to use. 

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Because of my obsession with anything covered in fishes, this Hamsa design is my absolute favorite. How beautiful it would look on any wall of the home! For those who have almost no artistic ability, I’d suggest making the Dreidel Kits or Bridal Veil—definitely goof proof.

Sew Jewish is a book that belongs in the collection of every crafting enthusiast, particularly for those of us who are equally passionate about Judaism and art.

Keshet Sfarim: Cheap Children’s Hebrew Books

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Looking for children’s books in Hebrew that are affordable? Keshet Sfarim has created a new subscription service that’s awesome! Once a month, for 8 months, they will mail books to your home directly. The books are geared towards children ages 2-8 and help them to learn the language and connect with Israeli culture.

The annual cost is $10.00—less than the cost of a single book. Keshet Sfarim is perfect for families and Hebrew schools, so pass along the info to others with kids or those who teach.  

Is it Wrong to have a Child-Centered Marriage?

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Can too much focus on the children hurt a marriage? According to Patrick and Ruth Schwenk, the answer is a huge “Yes!” In their new book, For Better or for Kids, they share their own issues raising 4 kids and how it changed their marriage in ways they never dreamed possible.

Having a child-centered relationship can cause spouses to neglect each other’s needs, they warn, leading to significant problems that often lead to tremendous marital strife and eventual divorce. Do any of these common complaints sound familiar?

  • Loss of intimacy
  • Romance cools or stops completely
  • Unresolved conflicts
  • Infrequent or non-existent communication
  • Fights over money
  • Lack of attention and affection
  • Child’s needs/wants are paramount

Seriously, what couple can’t relate to most—all?—of those! What starts out as newlywed bless seems to become almost like platonic roommates once little people are added to the mix. While I certainly believe marriage is important and couples need time alone together, I think it’s almost impossible for the focus to remain solely on the husband and wife. Most of us, if we’re honest, would admit that we love our child more than our spouse and that can cause a lot of tension…

I do like some of their suggestions like scheduling regular Date Nights, parenting together as a team, having open communication without finger pointing, and making sure every member of the family feels valued and heard.

Another great point is not allowing the children to divide and conquer. Parents should maintain a united front and not allow any manipulation. (Easier said than done, of course, but important to remember.)

Overall, I think a child-centered marriage isn’t ideal, but it is the norm—especially in the Jewish community. By recognizing and admitting it, both husband and wife can do things for each other, and as a couple, to strength their bond and keep it strong and healthy. (Notice I didn’t say perfect. We all know there’s no such thing as a “perfect” marriage!)