Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Aleph Bais Sefer Torah

I always like to get my boys a ‘real’ sefer torah for Simchas Torah the year that they learn kriah.  It’s theirs for that year, and possibly the next, and then I pass it to the next child.

This year, it was time to replace our previous Torah, which was already torn beyond repair.  While browsing the store’s selection, I found this unique, adorable, and perfectly age-appropriate Torah.  The Aleph-Bais Sefer Torah by Keter Judaica has the Aleph Bais printed on its parchment, repeated with each of the nekudos, like a mini kriah practice sefer, just right for boys who are still learning to read.  In addition, to make it even better, it has the parshiyos of V’zos Habrachah and Bereishis, so that little boys can still ‘follow along’ during the leining, and no one can tell them they don’t have the actual text!

[Aleph Bais Sefer Torah, by Keter Judaica]

Ari’s Extremely Important Mission

Here’s a book that’s high in both tochen (meaningful content) and adventure!  Full of action, with a touch of fantasy that’s not far from the truth, Ari’s Extremely Important Mission is another great title for Aseres Yemei Teshuvah (and all year round).  With an unfortunate decree pending against his town, only Ari can help generate enough mitzvos to reverse the edict and save his family and friends.  Along  the way, he learns why some mitzvos count more than others and hears some incredible stories, as he puts his boundless energy to work at fulfilling his daunting task.

Full of the light humor that tickles boys’ funny bones, as well as introspective moments that will heighten a reader’s sensitivity, Ari’s Extremely Important Mission received high marks from my two junior reviewers.  Y., age 9, said, “You can already tell your friends that it’s EXCELLENT!”, as soon as he was deep into Chapter 1.   M., age 9, after spending about three hours in one position on the couch reading this book, shared his approval and then added, “If this author writes any other books, I wouldn’t want to miss them.” This from a boy who would usually rather play ball!

The characters in this book are so real, and so inspiring; they reflect the author’s deeply-rooted Jewish hashkafos, and make the book a must-read.

[Ari's Extremely Important Mission, by Levi Goldstein, Torah Temimah Publications]



Did You Ever Send a Boy to Israel?

Something tells me that in order to appreciate this post, you first need to send a GIRL to Israel.  Or at the very least, rewind your mind to the last time YOU went off on an international stint for two weeks.  Do you envision suitcases piled around for ten days before, outfits for every weather going from closet to suitcase and back, jacket, shoes, purses and backpacks and caps? Make-up, perfume, and gifts for everyone you’ll meet? And that’s all without your all-important hand-luggage…

Well, back to the boys. It was Friday noon, and three of my teenage boys were scheduled to leave Sunday morning.  Considering that Motzai Shabbos would be selichos and they had learning seder beforehand, that didn’t leave much time.

I made a mild call-out.  “Aren’t you guys leaving to Israel Sunday morning?  Don’t you have anything to prepare?  Pack?”

My husband pointed at a few fabric suitcases he’d borrowed. (We make a point of never owning suitcases, a result of too many guests who come with one suitcase and go back home with two.) “I brought some suitcases.”

Nice. Not that my boys had been too concerned.

“Actually,” said one.  “I was planning to buy a CD player. I’ll need music on the flight.”

Saying which, he launched a house-wide search for every electronic device we own that plays music, and all three boys gathered round to make their choices.  Naturally that led to a lot of switching of batteries, anti-shock experimenting and heated discussions on the pros and cons of the one with the broken cover vs. the one missing the battery-compartment thingamajig that I’m sure I keep ‘not throwing out because one day I’ll figure out what it belongs to’.  But clearly this was the most important aspect of the trip preparation, so all this was apparently very necessary.

And in fact, it was certainly the hardest part, because after that they each took a suitcase and filled it up with piles of their clothing, a set of linen and a towel, and they were ready to go.  Um, except for one last round of post-selichos shnitzel-frying to prepare food for the flight.  What the airline serves does not qualify even for raised eyebrows.

Sending boys to Israel? Just take care of the music and the shnitzel. The rest is easy.


Let’s Stay Pure

If you’re going to be reading stories to your children on Rosh Hashanah and  Yom Kippur, here’s a title that’s perfect for sharing the essence of the day with the littlest members of the family: Let’s Stay Pure, by Bracha Goetz, illustrated by Sara Fogel.

This beautiful, brilliant book uses positive word-imagery and stunning illustrations  that help kids get it: their neshamos are precious, and are worth protecting. Using simple language, it’s a perfect introduction to the concepts of kedushah and shemiras einayim.

Putting this book together was likely a singular challenge, but Bracha Goetz and Sara Fogel did an incredible job, and the book is entirely friendly and upbeat while imparting this impactful message.

[Let's Stay Pure, by Bracha Goetz / Sara Fogel, Torah Temimah Publications]

When we took long walks to shul or relatives on Yom Tov, I positioned one boy on either side of my double carriage and designated them as my ‘blinkers.’  Any time we turned in or even ‘switched lanes’ to let someone by, the boy on that side had to signal our intention.  We walked miles without bickering; they weren’t hungry, or thirsty or tired…if when we arrived, it took some time for them to resume verbal communication, no one complained!

When You Visit the Park with Boys

Aiming for a low-key trip that was also local, we followed a lead from my Binah summer article, and made our way to Morningside Park.  After debating the merits of rowboats versus paddleboats, we chose the glittery purple paddleboat.  Since one adult is required per boat, and I had to stay on land with the baby, my husband took half the kids for first shift (I always knew our adult to child ratio wasn’t high enough!), and the rest of the gang got to hang out with me.

Picnic lunch in tow, we started off around the lake to the picnic tables and playground.

And that was where I learned that when you take boys  to a lakeside park, you should bring along…

1.  Bread, challah or rolls

The youngest boys were a sight to see, tossing bread to the ducks, then backing off, only to find the entire web-footed chevrah stepping single-mindedly after them.

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