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Showing posts from June, 2012

Short Parsha Riddles: Chukas / חֻקַּת

בְּמִדְבַּר / Bamidbar / Numbers 19:1-22:1 Click for printable PDF version . Don’t forget to read my Parsha Poem and parsha overview , plus this very easy snake craft project .  Plus… copywork and parsha activities – something for every week of the year! Art credit:  Once again, actual original artwork, specially commissioned from a talented illustrator on fiverr … פָּרָשָׁת חֻקַּת for Parshas Chukas בְּמִדְבַּר / Bamidbar / Numbers 19:1-22:1 [1] The parsha teaches about a red heifer, A word that only rhymes with zephyr; An easier word you can say for it now, ‘Cuz a heifer is really a girl kind of __________! [2] This may be a source of infernal frustration; But please guess the meaning of the word “lustration.” Does it mean envy, purity, festivity, wrath… Or maybe the steam that escaped from your bath? [3] The mitzvos we learn from the Torah so dear, Six-thirteen we read in our shuls each year. But only three different kinds – what a shock; Mishpatim and eidos, and th

Thtupid-Word Thursday: Cloths / Clothes

WRONG: “I Have my own business, Desiging hats and dog cloths.”  Um, in so many ways, wrong, even setting aside what society has forgotten:  that it is reasonably Weird for Dogs to wear stuff. Here it is – visual and easy: Clothes: Cloths: Really, which would YOU want to wear??? If you Google images for cloths, you will find, mostly clothes (a couple of loin cloths, so don’t google it while the kiddies are around!).  Here’s a YouTube video offering to “stretch UR $” by turning “WINTER kids cloths into SUMMER cloths” – sounds easy to me, though perhaps you’d want to dye them a lighter, pastellier shade.  And this is a reasonably moronic thread discussing “Parents and their kids cloths.”  Argh. Kind of along the same lines, and misused in the same way, are Breath and Breathe. Breath: Breathe: It’s okay, I tell myself.  Just take a deep breathe.  Don’t forget to breath, I say… don’t forget.

Two more for Superman Sam…

Please daven for Shmuel Asher ben haRav Pesah Esther . With the photos we sent the other day , I had Ted draw a cartoon of Sam himself in superhero getup.  I think it turned out great!  Of course, Ted had no idea why I wanted to take a picture of the picture, given that it was printed from the very computer where I now sit and type this. But to me, there’s something REAL about a photograph that you don’t get from a JPG. So here it is – real as all get out.  I packed the cartoon between two pieces of cardstock for safekeeping, then got scared that they’d think it was JUST blank cardstock, so I wrote “open me” or something stupid on both sides of the cardstock.  Wish I’d included a frame, but that would cost way too much to mail. And THEN… well, I opened up First Language Lessons , our grammar book, and in a perfect confluence of the stars, our “lesson” for the day was to address an envelope!  How perfect is that ?  However, Naomi refused to use the WI postal abbreviation for Wiscons

Gavriel Zev’s Alef-Bais Siyum (okay, party)

Once again , we’re planning an Alef-Bais Siyum – just an excuse to plan a party, really, and what better time to do it than right at the end of the school year as friends and family are sort of drifting away for exciting summer plans? Just as I did for Naomi, I made a video of Gavriel Zev's wiggle worm letters and of him singing the entire alef-bais.  Their different temperaments really shine through in these.  It was tough to pin him down, and a measure of how keyed up he is about this party that he actually condescended to (sort of) sing his alef-bais song properly on camera (he rebelled a bit by pointing to the wrong letters as he sang). If you live within driving distance and you’re free this Sunday, you’re welcome to join us, of course! Here’s the video from Naomi’s siyum, if you’re interested.

Shiva Asar b’Tammuz, Tisha b’Av and the Three Weeks – for kids

This is an overview of shiva asar b’Tammuz, Tisha b’Av and the Three Weeks which I wrote many, many years ago for my old Geocities website (I’m dating myself here… does anyone still remember Geocities?). I have gone over it a bit (I didn’t have an electronic copy anymore, so I had to type it in), but the style is still a little different from what I usually do.  But it’s hopefully somewhat fun and somewhat functional and a good way to introduce these topics. For this time of year, I really recommend Round and Round the Jewish Year (link is to a different volume in the set), a series I use quite a bit anyway, because it has a lot of information even for months that aren’t really dealt with as much in kids’ material.  And they show girls, and mommies!  (here’s a previous review )  However, the selection for Tisha b’Av does contain the rather grisly, and lengthy, story of Titus’s Death by Mosquito.  Avoid if your kids are sensitive. In any event, my overview is here now – hope it’s u

What’s the deal with Midrash?

How should we teach midrash as Jewish parents and educators??? Someone posted a great question in the comments section of this post .  Perhaps she had noticed that in the parsha overviews , I generally introduce midrash and other non-pshat elements (NPEs?) with the words the words “some people think” or something similar.  Here’s what she wrote: Can you explain to me the issue with Midrash ? I keep seeing this amongst a lot of homeschoolers and I don't understand. When you say "some people say" it sounds like you are negating the authenticity and value of those Rabbis who wrote these texts as well as what those texts say. Rashi often uses Midrashic texts to elucidate the pshat. I answered this briefly in the comments section, but honestly, there are a couple of interesting parts here: What’s “the issue” with Midrash ?  By which I assume she means, why not just include it so it flows along with the story like some other parsha books and websites do…? Is this an

New Bilam and Balak Printable PDF Book

Well, not exactly new – but just in time for next week’s parsha, Balak!  This is just about the same story as last year (and every year, because the Torah hasn’t changed much… ;-)).  But I have splurged (um, thank to Fiverr and unemployed cartoonists willing to draw anything for $5!) and commissioned semi-exciting new graphics that you may enjoy somewhat more than the stolen graphics in last year’s edition. If you use this site's resources and want to help support my Fiverr habit (ie acquiring legitimate, fun images to use for the parsha summaries, riddles and mini-books like these), please click... Download this and many other mini-books and parsha/holiday resources from my Limudei Kodesh (Jewish Studies) page, here .  (scroll down or search the page for “Balak”) For general-studies downloads and printables, including bilingual Hebrew-English science resources, click here .

Win a FREE copy of Morah, Morah, Teach Me Torah – plus an author interview!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!  The winner is Elissa/Elisa.  Please contact me at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com within 3 days (before Tuesday, July 10th) with your mailing information.  In the event that I don’t hear from you within that time, I will draw another winner.  Thanks!!! I bought Morah, Morah, Teach Me Torah just before Shavuos (literally, minutes before the bookstore closed) and have been enjoying it weekly ever since.  I don’t look at it before I write my parsha overviews , but I do read it when I’m planning what sorts of things to do with my kids in connection with the parsha.  It’s also something I can read with them if I choose.  There are so many reasons I like this book!  Despite the very cute picture on the cover, it’s not just for teeny-weeny kids.  It features simple songs (if you know basic tunes to kids’ songs in English, like Mary Had a Little Lamb , or The Ants Come Marching , you can sing these songs!), parsha summaries, activity ideas, Shabbos-table discussion

Chukas Parsha Summary: “Okay, whatever you say!”

This is a basic overview of the parsha story in a format that can be adapted for a wide range of ages. Sources include parsha text, commentaries and midrash.  When introducing midrash or other non-pshat elements, I use the words “some people think” or something similar. Please see the Vayeishev overview for how we use these narratives  in our homeschool.  I also have copywork sheets to go with the weekly parsha… enjoy! בס״ד How were bnei Yisrael like teenagers…? Since they came out of Mitzrayim, they’ve had three strong leaders: Moshe, Aharon and Miriam. Now they’re learning to do things for themselves, for a time when they won’t have those leaders anymore. Do you remember the word tamei ? A few weeks ago, we read that people who were near a dead body couldn’t bring a korban Pesach – they were טָמֵא/ tamei . The opposite of tamei is טָהוֹר/ tahor . Sometimes people explain these words as “clean” or “unclean.” But you could be very, very clean – with soap and everything! – and s

On Sam’s Superhero Team!

You-all know that Naomi Rivka is much more of a princess kind of gal, but she has happily (kind of) donned Gavriel Zev’s Superman pyjama shirt (the bottoms were lost years ago) to pose for pictures we are mailing to “Superman Sam,” son of Phyllis “Ima on the Bima” Somer down in Wisconsin, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia a few weeks ago. You can join Sam’s superhero team, too!  Here’s how .  More ideas here .  (just don’t ask Dr. Google …) May Shmuel Asher ben HaRav Pesah Esther have a refuah sheleimah, a complete and speedy recovery.

First Parsha Copywork

This has been an exciting couple of weeks of firsts for Gavriel Zev.  Little things, not anything anyone would notice unless they are with him every day and notice he is changing and growing (inside). I think a big part of it has to do with being outdoors – almost all day, every day.  And the freedom to go outside basically whenever he chooses.  Naomi Rivka is jealous, but she’s out there a lot, and I think being alone and being outside are helping Gavriel Zev immensely. So yes, this is his first copywork of any kind, parsha or otherwise, and I’m rather pleased with how he did.  I told him there were four of each word, but that he only had to do two.  At first, he announced – as he always does – that he was going to do all of them.  But I said he should do two of each and then go back and do more if he wanted to… because I know how that turns out; he bites off more than he can chew and then gets discouraged. Anyway, he did two of each, and even coloured the stick at the bottom of

I am here from the future…

…and I come bearing ground pecans! Before Shabbos (on Friday, June 22nd), Ted rummaged around in the freezer and found his trusty baggie of ground pecans for baking Shabbos honey-mustard salmon… and the date on the baggie said June 23rd.  Yes, I made him throw them away and start with fresh pecans.  And I made him stand and have his picture taken. Does your freezer have any delightful surprises?

Summertime Gnocchi Pesto for Shabbos Lunch! (with Gnocchi recipe)

Mmm… this was great; truly classic light Shabbos lunch fare.  Another delicious new favourite from the Kosher by Design Teens & 20-Somethings cookbook… (that’s a link to BUY the cookbook, but you can find the complete recipe here ). Basically, you round up all the basil your garden has to offer, throw in a half-cup of pecans, some garlic, sea salt, olive oil, lemon juice and mayo, whir it up in the blender…   … and then toss it with a whole bunch of store-bought gnocchi!  What?  No store-bought gnocchi handy?  No store sells it near you?  Kosher store-bought gnocchi costs a ridiculous $6 for half a pound???  Make it yourself – it’s easy!  No recipe for this, but here’s what you’ll need: 4 organic potatoes, preferably russet or another baking variety, scrubbed and poked with a fork Salt, kosher or sea salt or whatever you like 1 egg all-purpose flour, maybe a couple of cups? Big pot of seasoned / salted / oiled water (see recipe for cooking instructions) And here’s w

Short Parsha Riddles: Korach / קֹרַח

בְּמִדְבַּר / Bamidbar / Numbers 16:1-18:32 Click for printable PDF version . Don’t forget to read my Parsha Poem and parsha overview , plus this cool sprouting branch craft project .  Plus… copywork and parsha activities – something for every week of the year! Art credit:  I am so excited to present actual original artwork, specially commissioned from a talented illustrator on fiverr … I can’t believe I have to pay for art when I live with several talented illustrators.  Nevertheless, I am thrilled with this image!!! פָּרָשָׁת קֹרַח for Parshas Korach בְּמִדְבַּר / Bamidbar / Numbers 16:1-18:32     [1] Korach was a wicked man to argue with Hashem, So it was his destiny that that was who’d condemn; He could run to the north and flee to the south, But he’d never escape the earth’s gaping __________! [2] We see that Moshe was most humble of men So when Korach challenged him, what happened then? Most of us would have just sneered at his thunder, But Moshe perhaps took a mom

Easy Parsha Craft for Korach

We seem to be having an on-top-of-things week around here for a change.  (um, ignore the fact that the kids in the pictures below are wearing pj’s please…!) Since I have already read them the parsha overview and both kids did parsha copywork (yay!) about Aharon’s sprouting branch, we followed up with this super-easy craft project today.  In the parsha, the leaders of all the shevatim (tribes) bring a stick which is left in the Kodesh Hakodashim overnight.  All the staffs are unchanged except Aharon’s, which – in the morning – is sprouting buds, flowers and almonds.  And I thought, “we have all those things… even almonds!!!” So here they are:  sticks.  I wrote “Aharon” on one side of each kid’s stick in Hebrew and “Levi” on the other side.  I cut out leaves from a folded piece of green construction paper, and let the kids make tissue paper buds and flowers (buds = wadded up into a tight ball; flowers = loosely pinched at the base).  Finally, we glued on almonds (use lots of glue!) a

Working through the heat!

Despite the temperatures and humidity today, the show goes on through the summer, mostly, with liberal breaks for camp, cottage, playdates, etc.  Here’s Naomi grinning over her Hebrew book.  That’s because it’s super-super- easy .  I mentioned we were switching from Migdalor 2 to Shalom Ivrit 2… well, we DID, and it was going fine, in my opinion.  But Naomi felt overwhelmed; I have no idea why.  Just as had happened in Migdalor, even though the vocabulary was all familiar, and even though she could read it just fine, she’d end up crying. So I marched out to the store and bought Shalom Ivrit 1.  It’s basic, but not babyish, with a clean, modern feel to it.  Here’s what she was “working” on today. Now, I know and you know (because I’ve told you!) that she’s well beyond this type of vocabulary and grammar stuff.  But she loves it.  And now, every time I pull out Book 1 instead of Book 2, she’s surprised and delighted anew.  I think she thinks I’m bluffing, and that I’ll haul out Boo

Aleph-Bet Stix Interview and free GIVEAWAY!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!  The winner is Yael.  Yael, please contact me at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com within 3 days (before Wednesday, July 4th) with your mailing information.  In the event that I don’t hear from you within that time, I will draw another winner.  Thanks!!! ENTER TO WIN A FREE SET OF ALEPH-BET STIX, courtesy of Jewish Educational Toys and Menlo Toys !  Oooh, I am so excited!  A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Aleph-Bet Stix, an educational alef-bais learning product that I just happened across in a local bookstore… and, of course, being SUPER-nice, I wished I could share the fun with all of you.  Well, now I can! I was fascinated by the idea of inventing your own Jewish educational product to fill a niche (hey, I kind of do it all the time), so I wrote to Chris Bishop, creator of Aleph-Bet Stix, who – while not a Jewish homeschooler himself, is an engineering & science-supplementing dad to two Jewish boys – agreed to an interview.  And after the interv

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While we’re on the subject of Korach…

This is perhaps the first in a series of simplified parsha copywork for even younger kids.  Here, the parent reads the passuk with the child, who copies three words from the parsha.  There’s also a quick, simple drawing/colouring parsha activity at the bottom of the page.  I have tried to provide transliterations of the words so it’s English-language friendly for parents who didn’t have the benefit of Hebrew day school or homeschool parsha copywork! There are four outlines provided for each word, but just ask the child to do as many or as few as you are both comfortable with.  (I usually ask for four because that’s GZ’s age, but in future, I may provide more outlines, because he sometimes likes to surprise me with extras!)  Use any medium you’re comfortable with as well.  Pipsqueaks (mini Crayola markers) are useful for writing in these outlines, but crayon is fine as well.  Pencil doesn’t work great because there’s not enough contrast, but that said, Gavriel Zev has been insisting

Korach / קֹרַח Overview: Follow the Leader!

Bnei Yisrael have been complaining all the way through the Midbar! But now, a large group, led by one man, Korach, brought the ultimate complaint: they thought Moshe and Aharon shouldn’t be the leaders of bnei Yisrael. Moshe was angry, but decided to let Hashem choose the men’s punishment. He told them to bring ketores, spices burning in a pan for Hashem, the next day, and see what would happen. Well, they all brought burning ketores in the morning, and Hashem made a neis: a huge mouth opened up in the earth and swallowed up Korach, his followers, their families, houses, and all their stuff. This is very strange: Why did it swallow their possessions, their families and houses? Imagine you won a wonderful new bike in a raffle. You’d feel so proud! You’d ride around, showing it off, bragging, and forget that some kids don’t even have bicycles at all. You might even forget that you won it – you might start to think you’re extra-special and deserve it more than the other kids. We can