JCS Holllllllllllly Week!

April 22, 2011

(matzah rolls – is your communion ‘bread’ this delicious?)

Here we are, the week where religions collide.

We’ve had a couple of JCS lessons to cover our Spring holidays.

Our Easter lesson covered Palm Sunday (the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem), Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter.  We went to church on Palm Sunday and the older kids got to parade in (after 2 live donkeys and people dressed up as Jesus and his disciples) waiving their palms.  We talked about how Holy Thursday (the celebration of the Last Supper) was actually a Passover Seder – that Jesus and his disciples were eating a seder meal and that this is where we get our sacrament of communion.  These are the easy days to explain.

(J-man’s coloring page from Palm Sunday School)

Good Friday and Easter are a little tougher for the 6 and 8 year old crowds to ‘get’.  We did the best we could to explain that people who didn’t like Jesus killed him (we didn’t go into the gory Passion of the Christ detail) and that when Mary returned to the tomb on Sunday, Jesus’ body wasn’t there.  There was some discussion about whether or not EVERYONE ‘comes back to life’ or if it just means that Jesus is alive in our hearts. (good questions)

Passover was this week.  We did a kid’s seder on Monday using a kid’s haggadah called My Very Own Haggadah which is a coloring book and right on their level.  Of course, the best part of the night was searching for the Afikomen (a piece of matzah that is hidden during the meal creating a hide and seek game for which there is a prize given to the ‘finder’).

Some before clean-up and after clean-up shots

Oh….. and (the most important fact of the week) – Desserts:  macaroons and chocolate flourless torte with orange curd, chocolate ganache and homemade whipped cream.




I baked with these little gems today.  They melted beautifully and tasted delicious.  I love how the package says ‘for baking, melting, and nibbling’.

Just call it how it is,,, they know most people are just eating these guys straight from the bag!

Listened to NPR.s The Thistle and Shamrock while cooking.  Love Holy Week in an inter faith household,,, a little Irish music with your brisket?

JCS – Purim

March 20, 2011

Oppression, Victory, and Food.

It’s time for another Jewish Holiday celebration at JCS.

Today we taught our little inter-faith angels about Purim.

Even though the book of Esther is in the old testament,  I don’t remember learning it in Sunday School.  Poor Esther got overshadowed by Noah, Jonah, Moses, and a whole lotta Jesus.

For my friends who are biblical scholars, here is the intro to the book of Esther from my favorite bible:

“The book of Esther deals with a momentous event that took place after the Persians had destroyed Babylon and while many Jews were still living in the land of their captivity.  The story concerns a Jewess named Esther who had become the wife of the Persian King Ahasuerus.  An evil advisor to the king, named Haman, sought the destruction of the Jews in order to gain control of their wealth, but Esther tactfully intervened and saved her people  from this fate.  Haman was executed, and after some civil strife things quieted down once more.  This remarkable deliverance of the Jews was celebrated by a feast named Purim and it remains to this day.”

For my friends who appreciate a more, ummmmmmmm,  modern story (and for the 5 and 7 year olds we taught today):

Go Esther!  Go Esther!

Purim festivals include kids dressed up in costumes (lots of Queen Esthers, King Ahasuerus, and a couple of Hamans).  When the story of Esther is being told,  attendees are encouraged to bring noisemakers and to make lots of noise (including loud “Boooooooooooo”s) every time Haman’s name is said.

Hamentashan is the symbolic food for the holiday.  It is a 3 pointed cookie that is symbolic of  Haman’s 3 pointed hat.

Our adorable Queen Esthers.

Well, thank God Jesus was a Jew.

This leads to a LOT of overlap when you’re trying to teach your inter-faith kids about religion.

Our Shabbat/Communion lesson a couple of weeks ago is a good example of this.

Shabbat is the Jewish name for Sabbath, and is observed weekly. It begins at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday.  This day of rest is started by lighting candles, saying a prayer –

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam
asher kidishanu b’mitz’votav v’tzivanu
l’had’lik neir shel Shabbat. (Amein)

For my non-Hebrew speaking friends –

Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe
Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us
to light the lights of Shabbat. (Amen)

There are also blessings for the bread and the wine that is traditionally served.

Didn’t you ever wonder where communion came from???

Well, there ya go – Jesus was a good Jew.  The Last Supper (from where communion is gleaned) was a Passover Seder.

…more on that later…

What most Christians learn about ‘where communion came from” is that Jesus told his disciples at The Last Supper that he was going to die and to remember him by the act of eating bread and drinking wine.

Stop and think about that for a minute – pretty cool guy to command the enjoyment of  food and drink (especially wine) when his followers ‘remembered him’.

Our kids enjoyed this lesson because…. well, because we served bread and juice.  We’ll have to wait a number of years before we know if it really sank in!

This was to funny not to share….

JCS discussed Ash Wednesday and Lent this week.

A big shout out to JWass for a great lesson and crafts.

Lent is a tough concept for the 5-7 year old crowd.  Typically, they can’t think beyond the next 5 minutes – so 40 days seems like a lifetime.

We learned about Ash Wednesday signifying the beginning of Lent.  We explained that many Christians go to church on Ash Wednesday and receive the sign of the cross in ashes on their foreheads kicking off Lent with an outward symbol of their religion.

JWass had a  great Lent Countdown/calendar to help as a daily reminder that we are still in the season of Lent.  Thanks to Catholic Icing for this great visual.

Finding something to sacrifice was tough.  Every member chose their own – some were as simple as 1 day without the DS – others were a little more sacrificial – like giving up a favorite  (NEW) WII game for 3 whole days.  (babysteps)

We’re realistic.    They are 5 and 7.   It’s hard enough for an adult to give up something for 40 days…  This works for us for now.

We finished the lesson by talking about using Lent as a time to focus on others.  We made prayer boards where we listed people we can pray for during Lent.  We were touched by some of the people that the kids chose.  …friends with chronic health conditions, grandparents (alive  and dead), our pets,  and Haiti.  (again… 5 and 7!)


Food Pantry Part Deux

February 28, 2011

You might remember my commitment to donating $10 of groceries/month to our local food pantry.

It all stemmed from a trip that our inter-faith religious school took to a food pantry – only to find bare shelves.

So, I’ve started playing the coupon game to see how much ‘stuff’ I can buy for $10.

This is my second haul.  I went over my budget a bit.  This bag o’ goodies set me back almost $6.

JCS – Happy Birthday, Trees

February 17, 2011

Our JCS lesson a few weeks ago was on Tu B’ Shvat (New Year of the Trees).

The middle of January seems like an odd time to have a birthday party for trees…

…but if you consider that Israel is enjoying highs in the mid to upper 70s and lows in the mid-50s, a Jewish holiday celebrating trees in the middle of January makes more sense.

(from uscj.org)

Tu B’shvat in a “nutshell:”
• Celebrates the blooming of the first buds of the fruit trees in Israel

• In North America, Tu B’shvat has become a celebration of the environment and is an opportunity for Jews to strive to ‘go green.’

• Customs include eating fruits and nuts from Israel of the Sheva Minim (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates) and donating money to plant trees in Israel. You can observe Tu B’shvat by committing to reduce, reuse and recycle (and enjoying some dates and other fruits isn’t bad either!).

Our lesson included explaining the holiday, eating dried fruits and nuts and planting seeds (symbolic of planting  a tree).

Unfortunately, the lettuce seeds didn’t germinate… but we have a strong sunflower growing at our house.

…should be blooming in – oh – May – if it has enough room in our kitchen window to grow until then.