Tag archive for "jewish kids"

Life Does Not Have to be Perfect to be Wonderful…

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Life Does Not Have to be Perfect to be Wonderful…

1 Comment 29 April 2010

by Jodi Samuels, founder of MetroImma- an online community for Jewish moms.

“Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful”

By all accounts we had the perfect life. I met my husband the year after high school and we were married by the time I was 20. We travelled the world together, living and working in truly exotic places. My husband is a doctor and he worked for the Royal Australian Flying Doctor Service, which allowed us ample opportunity for adventure. After living in four countries and nine cities, we won Green cards and came to New York to start another adventure. We became very active in the community, hosting thousands of guests and enjoying life in NYC to the fullest.

Then we had two exceptionally cute kids (I am their mom, and they are exceptionally delicious to me). We have a great marriage and family. Many of the singles that we work with through our group JICNY have this “when I get married I want a life just like the Samuels” mantra.

On February 25th, 2008, our third baby was born and we broadcast a message to our 8,500 plus database announcing the arrival of our perfect princess. Two days later we received a bombshell when the doctor raised suspicion that our perfect princess had Down syndrome. 48 hours after that, chromosomal studies confirmed this fact.

We were so overwhelmed as many thoughts raced through our minds-from “wow!”, to “why us?” to “what will life be like?” and simply “Oh my God, please help!” Within a short while of hearing the news, I came to the conclusion that God had sent me this baby for a reason. After two miscarriages between Temira, my second, and this baby, I felt sure God wanted me to have her. I knew that unless we embraced this baby, our life would be a lie. I looked at my husband and said, “We open our home to the lost, the lonely, the searching, and the challenged. If we open our home to strangers, how much more so should we embrace a challenge for Caila Sara, our princess? Because of who we are, God sent us this beautiful soul.” When we realized this, we came to terms with her having Down syndrome. Since then, she has only given us joy. Oh yes, parenting Caila is a lot more work. It’s sometimes scary, and more intense, but also intensely joyous.

I was asked to speak on a panel for a group of Rabbinic Interns. They are learning about special needs in the community and wanted the perspective of a parent. I caught their attention with my campaign, Caily’s World. I was happy to speak and share my story. Reflecting on what to say, I recalled the serious and sad looks of the pediatrician, the OB/GYN, the geneticists, etc. Even the books we were told to read only listed all of the potential problems for the baby. The list was never-ending; from major disease and heart issues to being flatfooted, short-sighted and having thin hair. Our family and friends were devastated. The most common responses were tears or “Oh, I am so sorry”. We even had a person ask us outright while Gavin was holding the baby why we did not abort. There was so much pain in the air.

Yet we were not devastated; in fact, we were not even sad.

We have had two beautiful years with Caily. Thank God, she has been incredibly healthy- hardly even a cold ever. She does not have anything on those awful lists that could make one wonder if they delivered a monster instead of a baby. Caily is beautiful, with long thick hair. She is engaging, playful, and full of life. She is the delight of our family, her school, and our community.

What I wanted to tell the rabbinic students, what I want to tell anyone who will listen is that they have the power to change the situation. Imagine if people around us all assumed that life could still be amazing, rather than just assuming it’s awful. Image if the geneticist walked in and said to us, “life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.” Caily has taught me this lesson and I will continue to share it with those facing challenges ………… and those who are unintentionally creating them.

reprinted with permission by Jodi  Samuels founder of metroimma.com.

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DIY Art Card Crafts for Kids


DIY Art Card Crafts for Kids

No Comments 27 April 2010

By: Sarah Rivka Dahan . Check out my blog! http://www.creativejewishmom.typepad.com/
Shavuos Felt Card With Embroidery
Mommy’s Creation: My first
attempt at embroidery on paper, lots of fun!

I sat down the other day and did an impromptu art project together
with two of my kids! And of course I’m happy to share the results with
you, since this is a great project for all ages and abilities. I cut
out lots of petal shaped felt pieces and provided the kids with folded
cards, glue, a box of buttons and some yarn.

Add your kid’s picture and you have a great Mother’s Day Card!

Here’s what they came up

Shavuos Cards Kids versions

Aren’t these just the cutest? My almost 8 yr old daughter did the
one on the left, and my almost 5 yr old son did the one on the right. I
just love seeing their personalities reflected in their art!

You’ll Need:

  • felt
  • buttons
  • yarn
  • thick needle with eye big enough for yarn
  • card stock

Shavuos Cards In Process

How To:

Pretty self explanatory, just some notes about the embroidery:

  1. When embroidering on paper, unlike fabric there is no room for
    making mistakes since a hole is a hole!
  2. So plan ahead and make your holes before you start embroidering.
    Also, you really can’t see what you’re doing from the back, so there’s
    no way to know where to come up through the paper with your needle
    unless you’ve either made holes or marked them with
  3. I used both yarn (green) and embroidery floss (orange) and I love
    the contrast between the two weights.
  4. With embroidered cards you’ll want to work on a flat piece of card
    stock (or two pieces, like mine, namely a white square glued onto a
    pink square) and then glue your artwork to the card after you’ve
    completed the embroidery. Because the embroidered card had some
    dimension it can’t lie flat, (which is actually a plus!) so I used hot
    glue to affix it to the card.

Enjoy, and keep in touch!

Sara Rivka


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An Easy Art Project for Kids or Adults

at home, kids

An Easy Art Project for Kids or Adults

No Comments 25 April 2010

A couple of years ago, I did this project with my two little sisters for my first apartment. I hung it above a chinese console that I painted lime green!

I love that its easy enough for a kid to make, plus it helps kids learn about mixing and juxtaposing interesting colors… and I think it turned out pretty cool!

I used 1 large canvas, 2 different widths of painter’s tape and acrylic paints… It took about an hour and a half and my sisters LOVED making it! I wanted it to be really bright and colorful, but you could limit your color palate and create something a little more sophisticated.

Happy DIY!



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Tips For A Kid Friendly Seder


Tips For A Kid Friendly Seder

1 Comment 21 March 2010

Its easy to forget that the seder is really all about passing down our traditions to our children amidst the hustle and bustle of planning for the holidays.  My sister-in-law always makes the seder fun for the little kids by buying plastic bugs and frogs from Oriental Trading Company. She then asks Passover questions and whichever kid answers first-she throws them a bug or a frog! (bugs and frogs represent some of  the ten plagues) They love it!

Please check out chabad.og for a wealth of information about Jewish life and holidays! (Photo from: chabad.org / Reprinted from Chabad.org.)

When your Passover table is filled with boisterous youngsters who get fidgety before it’s time to recite the Ma Nishtana, the evening may begin to feel longer than those infamous years of slavery in Egypt, and filled with more tears than the salt water intended.

But don’t fret; your liberation from bondage is closer than you think. The following offers a guide of creative ideas for frazzled parents who seek to inspire every kind of child, including the wise one, the simple one, the one who is too young to ask and, well, I’m not even going to mention the fourth one.

Don’t forget to invite your children to share.

First, you have to set the scene; I always make my table child-friendly by setting the table with Passover paraphernalia such as plastic frogs, red water colored with red wine or grape juice (blood), sunglasses (darkness), ping pong balls (hail), masks and other and plague-related odds and ends.

Just as you invite all of those who are hungry, don’t forget to invite your children to share. Welcome your children to bring their ownHaggadahs to the table and share what they have learned with everyone else.

As you set your table with your finest Passover china and crystal, don’t leave out the most important display – the handmade pillows, sederplates and crafts your progeny created in school this year and in previous years.

Try to reward good questions, singing, readings and stories with something special. This way, they will pay attention to the proper place in the Haggadah. I have found that this technique keeps everyone alert.

Some people charge the children at their seder with the task of producing a Pesach-related skit. All the children can be given a part to play from the Haggadah, along with props, such as toy frogs and plastic bugs to add more realism and dramatic flair. The activity has the added benefit of requiring a certain amount of planning away from the table, affording the adults an opportunity for higher level conversation.

Some have the custom of marching around the table with either a piece of matza or a heavy load of items on their back. This helps us to fulfill the mitzvah of the Seder, which requires us to feel and act as if we have personally experienced liberation from slavery. Similarly, some people dress up like slaves and walk around the table to reenact the Jews‘ Exodus from Egypt. But you don’t have to end with your journeys through the dessert around your table.

A scavenger hunt through the Haggadah will also keep everyone on their toes; you can give your seder participants a list of words or characters to find as they read through the Haggadah.

One family I know ends their seder with an energetic round of the song “Who Knows One,” complete with elaborate hand motions. It certainly helped that they drank four cups of wine first!

When children are involved in seder preparations, it gives them a sense of ownership.

Generating enthusiasm for the seder can begin before the matzah and herbs are even brought to the table. When children are involved in seder preparations, it gives them a sense of ownership in the event. There are little jobs you can give them to help prepare, such as getting the salt water and bitter herbs ready. It may even encourage them to stick around at the table longer.

One family I know prepares a treasure hunt in advance, with clues to finding their missing afikomen. The adults are forced to participate whether they like it or not because without the afikomen, the seder cannot be completed.

If you successfully follow some of the suggestions above, you might get the ultimate compliment at the end of the meal. The children just might say, “Next Year–at your table–in Jerusalem.”

Other suggestions:

  • Paper bag dramatics. You can make parts of the Haggadah come alive by giving kids a bag of random materials. They must act out the part of the Haggadah using the materials. This can be done for the Ten Plagues as well.
  • Make the Ten Plagues come alive by throwing something out on the table for each one. For blood, put colored cups of water around the table. For frogs, throw around little toy frogs, etc.
  • Act out traditional Passover songs, such as Dayenu.
  • Dress up in robes or sheets to create the look of slaves.
  • Create a scavenger hunt out of the frogs that you have hidden around the house during the day.
  • Jump over a low bucket filled with water to recreate the splitting of the sea.
  • Get some sacks for the kids to pull around; fill with water bottles and then reenact the exodus from Egypt.
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