Category Archives: Judaism

Jewish Holidays in a Box: Fun for the Whole Family

Passover can be a fun holiday for all ages, but sometimes the littlest attendees have trouble following along during the Haggadah reading. (Mine have been known to use the words “Long” and “Boring” to describe it!) 

Growing up, we always had a standard Seder that was honestly quite stuffy. I experienced that same sense of boredom too, so I’ve tried hard as an adult to make it more engaging by incorporating kid-friendly elements into our celebration. Jewish Holidays in a Box has created a fun and clever game that works extremely well.

The Passover Seder Steps Follow-Along includes 5 boards and 5 playing pawns that will delight kids (and kids at heart). The easy to follow instructions make it suitable for those as young as 4, with big, bright pictures and fun challenges like hunting for baby Moses in a basket, frogs, etc. Having both the English and Hebrew is awesome!

As we played the game, I noticed that the kids seemed to be more attentive and asked more questions than they usually do. My youngest, in particular, struggles with reading and is much more of a visual learner, so the game was definitely a hit.

I loved that I was able to teach Torah in a way that connected with them, on their level. As we moved the pawns through the stepping stones, reinforcing the perilous journey out of Egypt, it really seemed to click in their young minds what this incredible holiday symbolizes and why it’s so significant for us as a Jewish People. (We had a similar experience watching The Ten Commandments on tv, so I’m sensing it’s the visuals that make the best impact on youngsters.)

And, from a practical point of view that has nothing to do with religion, I must mention that the game boards are gloss coated. This is a BIG deal for me because we simply can not get through a meal without somebody—or multiple people!—spilling a drink or dish. As a test, I wet the boards with a bit of water and they didn’t warp, stain, or become ruined at all. Perhaps this is because Jewish Holidays in a Box was created by a Jewish Mother and Grandmother who understands that kids can be hard on toys. (Yes, mine break everything!)

In addition to this lovely Passover activity, Jewish Holidays in a Box offers other guides, games, and bundles for Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, and Shabbos that are ideal for families and teachers.

We will certainly be trying more of them at my house!

Hateful “Beware of Jews” Sign Displayed in London

In the largest Orthodox neighborhood in London, a peculiar ‘Beware of Jews” sign was recently displayed.

When questioned by the local police, the creator claimed it was a work of art. Obviously, he is lying, delusional, or just evil, because any logical mind knows this isn’t art, it’s a hate crime—plain and simple!

2017 has been a record year for anti-Semitism and we’re only 3 months in. Between the repeated bomb threat hoaxes, cemeteries destroyed, swastikas painted on cars, and now this London mess, it’s enough to make me want to cry (and scream!).

I don’t know what is prompting such insanity. It is very troubling and hurtful. But I am not discouraged because good people around the world are also reacting with outrage, going all the way up to the Vice President.

Throughout history, anti-Semitism was actually encouraged by members of the Gentile community. No longer! Because of increased awareness and tolerance, only the sickest, most despicable people think Anti-Semitism is ok.

By continuing to expose and denounce these vile acts, we are chipping away at the hate and hopefully encouraging the love. I, for one, wish we could all come together as one people, the Human Race, and do what’s best for everyone.

Hate, even when it’s disguised as “art,” is NEVER acceptable!

Jewish Wives Stay in Abusive Relationships Longer

During a groundbreaking seminar held last week on International Women’s Day, the findings of a study revealed some shocking news: Jewish victims of domestic violence stay in abusive relationships longer than average!

Since Jewish women tend to be highly educated and have more opportunities for a career, I suspect victims are not staying due a lack of funds. I think victims are staying because of fear—fear of the abuser, fear of disgrace, fear of critical reactions, and fear of being blamed for not trying hard enough.

The Jewish community has always placed a high value on family. While that’s a wonderful thing, it can also cause tremendous pressure, leading many to pretend that everything’s fine when clearly it is not.

If a wife is being abused by her husband, she is not at fault! There is no shame in leaving someone who is cruel, mean, and unsafe to live with. If a family can stay intact, that’s obviously preferred, but not if it means sacrificing the mental, physical, and emotional health of those involved.

Instead of shaming others, judging them, and gossiping, we need to express more sensitivity. I won’t pretend that I haven’t engaged in that type of negative behavior, especially the gossip, but it’s not helpful for anyone. Let’s all make an effort to reach out to someone who’s hurting. With victims of abuse, it will often take multiple attempts. Yes, we’re all tired and busy; I get it. It’s hard to find the time, but these ladies deserve our time, our help, and our friendship.

This problem has always flourished because of the secrecy. Talking about it in the open is a big step forward.

Would You Pay $1,000 for a Purim Basket?

$1,000 for a Purim basket… No, it’s not a joke, it’s real. I’ve seen some expensive holiday gifts before, but this deserves a prize! How did I hear of such luxury, you may be asking? From a friend who lives in a very exclusive community in Westchester, NY. According to her, said basket was purchased in multiples by someone in her book group.

The list of included items is breathtaking:

  • 12 Coffees
  • 2 Champagne Bottles
  • Truffles
  • Chocolate Cherries
  • Chocolate Tubes
  • Mint, Chocolate and Caramel Balls
  • Mixed Nuts
  • Fudge
  • Gourmet Popcorn
  • Candy
  • Fruit
  • Peanut Clusters
  • Pretzels

The package alone weighs 50 pounds and could feed a small army, let alone a single soul!

Now, I truly don’t care how another person spends their own money, but I do wonder if a $1,000 basket provides more joy than a $10.00 or $100.00 basket? From my own experience, I’ve never known anyone—especially a kid—to reject a gift based on cost. Normally, I just cobble together free or discounted candy purchased after Valentine’s Day and a few cheapies special to the recipient. I wouldn’t say my baskets are extravagant by any means, but they’re always enjoyed! 

There’s no denying that we’d all love to be given a $1,000 gift on Purim or any other day of the year. Regardless, I’m sure that a lovely present can be made, no matter how small a budget may be, based on the creator’s determination and ingenuity.

A celebration is not about money, after all! It’s supposed to be about family, friends, faith, fun, and LOVE. Getting caught up in a social circle that only focuses on conspicuous consumption is not festive, it’s empty. Gifts are great, but we should never feel obligated to spend, spend, spend because another person goes overboard.

 

Holidays are meant to be joyous, but should there be a limit on spending?