Learn by doing.
Hands On Jewish Holidays
When I was a new mother I needed to step up to the challenge of transmitting Judaism to my kids. Much of what I found around me was not very inspiring. I needed to come up with creative ways to engage them. Here is a compilation of how we immersed ourselves in the Jewish holidays. We are all children at heart. I hope these recipes and activities inspires you to engage with the Jewish holidays in a creative and meaningful way.
The important thing is the process, not the end product.
The Bar Kokhba Revolt
The Bar Kokhba revolt took place from 132 CE to 136 CE. Jews of the Judaea Province, led by Shimon bar Kosiba (also called Simon Bar Kokhba), rebelled against Emperor Hadrian. Bar Kokhba occupied Jerusalem and was responsible for many casualties among the Roman troops. The result of this uprising was the creation of an independent State of Israel.
Algeria had an ancient Jewish community, dating to the 1st Century CE. Many Sephardic Jews fled to Algeria from Iberia following the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and Portugal in the 15th Century. These Western Sephardic Jews baked what I think is the most beautiful matzah for Passover.
Write “Israel” as Written by a Pharaoh: in Hieroglyphics!
The son of Rameses II, Pharaoh Merneptah, had the word “Israel” inscribed in hieroglyphics on a Stele, or monument. This 3,228 year old inscription is the oldest mention of the People of Israel ever found. It was discovered in Thebes. It says:
“Canaan is captive with all woe.
Ashkelon is conquered, Gezer seized,
Yanoam made nonexistent;
Israel is laid waste, bare of seed.”
Israeli Passover Chocolate Roll
When the Israelites left Egypt more than 3,300 years ago, they were in a bit of a hurry and didn’t wait around for their bread to rise. Observant Jews still commemorate their exodus by skipping the leavening during the eight days of Passover. Regular flour is not used in food preparation for fear that it may have come into contact with water, thereby activating the rising process. I see baking without flour made from grain as an opportunity for creativity. In that spirit, here is an Israeli recipe that complies with the special rules of Passover.
Homemade Chanukah Gelt
Did you know that the Hasmoneans minted the first Jewish coins in history?
Those ancient bronze coins have been reinvented as Chanukah Gelt, chocolate treats we eat during Chanukah. These mass-marketed Chanukah coins are beautifully molded and add a festive touch to the festivities. This year, you can get creative and have fun making your own gourmet chocolate gelt for your Chanukah celebration.