Coral Springs Welcomes Edjewcation Station!
We launched our first class in Coral Springs, FL! It was a great class of 4 students, ranging from 2nd-5th grades. Their parents chose this program because they wanted a Jewish education program that was FUN, affordable and engaging for their children! These families don’t want expensive programs nor do they have time to attend 2-3 times per week, and they REALLY did not want to hear their children CRY when they had to go to Hebrew School!
Edjewcation Station is their solution!
Our curriculum focuses on 5 key areas:
- Food & Culture
- Mitzvot & Ethics
- Prayers & Their Meanings
- Holidays & Celebrations
- Building a Relationship With God
In these 1.25 hour classes which are held every OTHER week, our kids EXPERIENCE Jewish education – they have FUN, it is meaningful to them, and they look forward to coming back – every time!
What did we learn today?
Here’s the basics of our class today:
We talked about the things they were not proud of this year, and how they can make positive changes each year as they get older, taking more responsibility for themselves. Now, let’s be honest – these are all great kids – who NEVER miss their mark intentionally, but – there’s room for growth in everyone, and even if we weren’t bad – we can always get better in some area, and that is what I focused on. (I’ll NEVER focus on bad – only personal improvement and striving to be the best version of ourselves we can be)
Why don’t you join us and start LOVING Jewish education?
Call Cantor Debbi to discuss options for your child in South Florida, 954-646-1326
Sharing Shabbat with my community is one of my favorite things to do. I am so grateful that each time I suggest it, a family in my community offers to host the service. These informal gatherings often end up as the most memorable of events to me.
I love the opportunity to gather together as families (yes, my family often joins), welcome Shabbat, share what has been happening in our often all-to-busy lives, and have a lovely Shabbat dinner. I have always welcomed and invited my new families to these events, but I had never created one for families with whom I haven’t worked.
Recently, I shared with you my love of Shabbat: why it is important to me, why I think it should be important to you and some ideas to bring Shabbat into your home. It was this love that lead me to this specific community Shabbat service.
The Idea – Shabbat!
I have been working more frequently in Palm Beach County, specifically the cities of Wellington and Boyton Beach. My families living there have shared with me that they had friends and neighbors who were part of the unaffiliated Jewish community; they did not belong to a congregation, yet were interested in observing and celebrating their faith. They were wondering if I would be able to include them. There was a catch, however. Many of them have young children – some not even old enough for Edjewcation Station. They wanted to arrange an introduction; but weren’t sure of the best way.
Shabbat! It came to me in a second. What a perfect opportunity; an observance appropriate for families with children of all ages. Of course, it would be low key, informal, warm and inviting. I was off and running.
Planning the Community Shabbat Service
Fortunately, a family offered to reserve the clubhouse in The Canyons, a lovely community in West Boyton Beach that is home to young families and centrally located to many of those with whom I work. I created an invitation and opened the event to those I knew, those who wished to meet me and their friends. In keeping with the belief that this event should be casual, I decided a “Pot-Luck Shabbat” would encourage everyone to participate. I developed a sign up list, and in no time had volunteers for every item from main courses (salmon and chicken ) to sides to desserts. Looking for inspiration? Click here for some kid friendly ideas! Sharing Shabbat, It’s Time!
On Friday, October 20th I arrived at The Canyons a little nervous and very excited. This evening was different from any I had ever planned. While it was informal it also included a religious component and new people. Thank goodness I had some familiar faces around to put me at ease.
As it turns out, all that worry was for nothing! First, the new families that joined me were warm, interesting and so much fun. And, their children were adorable! Each time I participate in event with young families I am reminded how much I love what I do. Obviously, families are the base of my community and welcoming new ones is always exciting. It felt like my own family was growing; what a beautiful thought.
We chatted and had a delicious Shabbat dinner and some yummy desserts. Then, we recited the Shabbat prayers over the candles, the wine and the Challah and we all sang some Shabbat songs together. I visited with old friends, met fabulous new people and shared the most special time of the week. The evening could not have been better.
Okay, you all know me, and you know that after each experience I have, I always try to take a moment for myself, recap what happened and discern what I have learned. Sharing Shabbat in the Canyons was no different. When I arrived back home, in Fort Lauderdale, everyone went to sleep and I had some quiet by myself to reflect.
What I Learned About Sharing Shabbat
My lessons were numerous and so important. Take a look:
- I learned that sometimes the most free-form events can be the most fun. I need to plan more things like this. With so little to worry about in terms of logistics, I found that I was able to truly be in the moment and share the evening with some fabulous people.
- I realized that a family event as a way to meet new people really is an awesome idea! The interaction between parents and children tells so much; and because everyone had their families with them, nobody was worried about rushing home to relieve a babysitter. We were all completely present for the entire evening.
- I learned that informal doesn’t mean disorganized, and that sharing some of the responsibility (like who would bring the food) is not only okay, it is critical. When everyone can share in the preparation, everyone is invested — and nobody is overburdened.
- Finally, I reaffirmed that sharing Shabbat is one of the BEST ways to meet people; everyone was relaxed and committed to joining together for a special evening.
Well, I want to do it again! I met some wonderful new people, shared what I do and learned about them. And, I had so much fun. I would love to host more community Shabbats for my current families and new families. Please let me know if this is something you would like to attend. Shabbat is important, we need to step back, reflect and relax. Also, it’s lots of fun to share it with friends!
Looking for more information on Edjewcation Station, Shema Koleinu or Cantor Debbi Ballard? Click the links displayed or call me at 954-646-1326. I would love to welcome you into my community and share with you all that we do.
There really is only one word to describe celebrating Hanukkah for kids, FUN! And, don’t we all deserve a little fun in our lives? I certainly think so.
Since the birth of my grandson Jayden, I’ve found even more joy in this holiday. Over the years I have been blessed to celebrate with so many of my families, and their young children. And each holiday was so special; younger children are truly enveloped by the story of the holiday and the games and food that accompany it. I saw this in so many children. Now, I not only get to share it with them; but I have that pure joy in my own house; I LOVE it! Below, I have provides some of my personal ideas in creating a magical Hanukkah for kids!
Hanukkah Activities for Kids
Share the Story
The story of Hanukkah is exciting. There are bad guys and heros and happy endings — there is even a miracle. A little Jewish education is important during the holidays. Sometimes the best way to share the story is with a story – a story book! Years and years ago (oh no, am I showing my age?) Hanukkah books were hard to find. Today, that’s not the case. In fact, I recently found this site which shares some of the most wonderful books around. Check it out and please, if you have a favorite book, let me know so I can share it with our community!
Cook (and eat) the Food
Hanukkah food is delicious – I look forward to it all year long. Can you blame me? Potato latkes are just so good. Freshly made with apple sauce or sour cream. Honestly, I don’t even think I need a main course; I could eat them for dinner. And, when you make them, which ever recipe you choose, don’t forget my special cooking tip: after you grate the potatoes, squeeze out all the liquid (use a cheese cloth)! They will be perfect!
As much as I love a latke, after all their salty goodness you do need something sweet. And that is where sufganiyot comes in to play. These sweet donuts filled with jelly are the perfect way to end a holiday celebration. And while you can always grab some jelly donuts from the local store, here is a quick and easy recipe if you want to make them at home. Seriously, four ingredients (if you count the oil and powdered sugar). Click the link and check it out. There’s nothing better than a warm sufganiyot!
And then, there is gelt. It’s not really “food”, it’s more of a treat! You should absolutely have some (or lots) on had throughout the holiday. Hanukkah gelt is a tradition, and chocolate gelt is the perfect little treat. Truth be told, much of the chocolate gelt (those foil-covered candy coins) you can buy from local retailers may contain peanuts and tree nuts. If you have a child with an allergy, please read the labels carefully. If you want to order nut free gelt, click here. Don’t forget to double check the ingredients when they arrive; you can never be too careful!
Holiday games are always fun, and dreidel is always a crowd favorite. Each of the letters on the side of the dreidel corresponds to a specific action in the game. Click here for a complete description of the game and its rules. Before you sit down to play, make sure you have a bowl of pennies, gelt or candy, as the game resolves around a “pot” of goodies which each player has the opportunity to win.
Do you know what the letters on the dreidel mean? They are Nun, Gimmel, Hay, and Shin, which stands for Nais Gadol Hayah Shahm. Translated, that means “a great miracle happened there”. Pretty special, isn’t it?
Light the Menorah
Make the candle lighting special each night. Perhaps everyone in the house has their own Menorah (what a great idea for a first night of Hanukkah gift – here is great website for children’s style ones).
Or, if you have a family menorah, everyone can take a turn lighting the candles (of course, little ones, with help).
Say the prayer together, each night. I bet by night eight EVERYONE in the family knows it!
Tzedakah, to Jewish people is more than charity, it is an obligation to give. Our community is especially fortunate; and we should incorporate giving into our celebration, especially because so many others are truly in need. Talk to your family and determine how you can incorporate tzedakah together. You can “adopt” a child for the holiday and fulfill there wishlist, you can volunteer at any number of places, you can donate to Toys for Tots, you can make a financial contribution to an organization whose mission and goals resonates with your family. I encourage you to discuss this with your children; even those who are young can appreciate and participate helping someone in need.
Celebrate Hanukkah for Kids
Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate! I cannot say it enough. Embrace the opportunity to share the holiday with your young children; believe me, they will be grown before you know it! Holidays through the eyes of a child take on a whole new meaning. Take a visual picture (and a cell phone one too) of their expressions of joy and wonder. Share in their enjoyment. Participate wholeheartedly and in a hands on manner. Put your phones away and enjoy one of the most special times of the year.
From my family to yours, Happy Hanukkah! I can’t wait to hear about your celebrations!
Hurricane Irma hit South Florida hard. Not as hard as we initially feared, but hard enough that we all felt the aftermath – some of us more than others.
Needing to Help
Now, I was incredibly lucky….I had a bit of a mess and no electricity; but with the help of my family I cleaned up relatively quickly. Thankfully, my power was restored in a timely manner. I was lucky. So many others weren’t. And, as seems to be the norm, those who were hardest hit were the most vulnerable of our community, the elderly and the children. As I watched the news and scrolled through my Facebook feed (let me digress for a moment, what an amazing communication tool Facebook was during this difficult time), horrible stories of devastation and damage seemed to be everywhere. It made my heart hurt and immediately I wanted to help. No, I needed to help. And so it began…..
Innocently enough, I posted my desire to help on my Facebook page; and over the course of a few days I was able to pinpoint an organization in considerable need: Covenant House.
Who is Covenant House
Located in east Fort Lauderdale, Covenant House Florida is an organization that services runaways, homeless and at risk youth including teen parents and their babies. In addition, they provide aftercare, transitional housing and and crisis shelters, among other services and have locations in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. Locally, Covenant House provides shelter for a number of young people, and offers a broad range of services to many others. This organization provides housing, food and counsel to a segment of our young population that would otherwise be without help. As such, they are an invaluable resource to our community.
Hurricane Irma happened…..and she happened hard. Because of Covenant House’s location, east Fort Lauderdale, it was one of the last organizations to have power restored. However, they were still responsible for caring for the young people who relied upon them. I was contacted and asked to help with the coordination of food and supply delivery. They usually prepare their own food, but the lack of power left their kitchen inoperable. So, I put out a call on my FB, and my community responded.
At my core I am a teacher; one whose focuses in my lessons and my life on giving back and doing good. I try to lead by example and have lead countless service projects in the past. Every time I reach out to my community they respond — I am never disappointed. I have to admit though, this time I could barely believe the response to my request. After all, times were difficult for us all. I questioned how much help I would receive.
The answer to my question was A LOT! Families of my Edjewcation Station students, to my bar and bat mitzvah families, to my Mitzvah Makers families and my Shema Koleinu families all offered their help. They donated food and supplies. Together we delivered car loads of water, canned goods, fresh fruit, dry goods and snacks. They donated money, which we were able to contribute to the organization to buy the items they needed. And, they donated their time. They volunteered to pick up and deliver hot meals to the kids at covenant house from the many restaurants that so generously provided food.
I did not need to ask for help twice. In fact, at times I had to “choose” who to send to help because so many different people offered their assistance. You know that old saying “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”? I now know my community is tough!
I am so proud of my families for once again stepping up. Community service is a large part of my life, and time and time again these wonderfully generous people step up and contribute their time and money and hearts. Their children are so blessed. They are learning from example from their parents, their community and their friends. In short, they simply are the best.
Join my community
How to celebrate Shabbat. You heard me, Shabbat. In today’s day and age, when we all have so much going on, it’s easy to forget. But because we are so busy is precisely the reason we shouldn’t.
Think about your week. Carpools, homework, sports, work, housekeeping, doctor’s appointments, dance, music lessons…you can probably go on and on. It’s exhausting, and the weekends are not much better. What little quality time a family has is often interrupted by phone calls, social media or must see TV! We all need a break. [Read more…]