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!
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…]
Begin Your Spiritual Journey Through Personalized Jewish Education Programs Across South Florida
Just what you were looking for — Small groups and personal attention in an inviting, educational setting. Make Jewish learning fun and rewarding for your child and family! No synagogue membership required. Convenient and affordable. Want to join us? Find out how you can get on the bus! Click here to request more information.
Interested in registering for the Fall session? Complete the form below.
A Message from Cantor Debbi Ballard
I can’t believe it’s time to send out enrollment forms for another fun & exciting year of Edjewcation Station™! To think it was 9 years ago this year that I began with my very first group – 5 4th & 5th graders, at the Schecter family’s dining room table. Back then, my B-Mitzvah families wanted a program for their younger children that could keep their families engaged and “Jewishly educated”, while the older children were working towards their B-Mitzvah.
Like today, those were very busy families. They wanted Jewish experience and education, but they didn’t want to spend 6 hours a week committed to classroom experiences that were, well….less than rewarding.
Those families wanted something – more personal, more accessible. They wanted it to feel better, all the way around. They wanted their children to come home feeling happy about being Jewish, and knowing that being Jewish was a privilege, as well as an obligation.
We’re still doing that today. With a much smaller “footprint” of time on your week, and WAY less of an investment, our students leave class with smiles on their faces, and they can’t WAIT to come back – in 2 weeks. Many wish it was sooner!
But that’s the secret to success at Edjewcation Station. We have fun. We leave them wanting “more”! With a commitment to a core curriculum of Jewish holidays, Food & Culture, Mitzvot & Ethics, Prayer, and Building a Relationship with God, we cover all the bases in just less than 1.5 hours every other week.
Interested? Click here to request more information.
How Is Edjewcation Station Different?
• Smaller, more personalized classes
• Curriculum that presents on their level
• Patient teachers that truly listen to your children
• Respectful for all belief systems, including “questioning” children
• Fun, effective teaching methods
• And let’s not forget – 5 cooking classes each year! (we love latkes!)
We are just getting started with registration for another year, and classes are open in Davie, Boca, and Wellington. We can’t wait to have you!
For more information, call Cantor Debbi Ballard at (954) 646-1326 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested? Click here to request more information.
About Edjewcation Station
Founded by Cantor Debbi Ballard, founder of My Personal Cantor and Shema Koleinu, Cantor Debbi saw firsthand how today’s students were over committed, stressed, and had no time or inclination to embrace their 4 hour per week Jewish education program. Similarly, today’s Jewish parents want more value from their Jewish affiliation, more personalized options, and creativity and passion behind their family’s Jewish connection.
In 2008, Cantor Debbi began teaching her first class of 5th graders. Five students gathered twice a month, to learn about being Jewish, in a very hands-on, engaging environment. We would focus on Jewish culture, foods, holidays, Torah, prayer, G-d, Mitzvoth/Ethics and Tikkun Olam. Word quickly spread, and in five short years, Cantor Debbi now has over 120 students in classes all over South Florida!
That led her to a challenging situation. How do you serve 120 students, in four major South Florida cities? Unable to utilize a single-location solution, the idea of a mobile classroom was born.
Today, Edjewcation Station has become a reality! A classroom installed in a remodeled city bus, and designed to hold 10-14 students and a teacher, we now have the world’s FIRST EVER Jewish mobile classroom!
Edjewcation Station® will serve unaffiliated populations across South Florida, with many engaging, exciting programs. We will not only serve as a “totally cool Hebrew School”, but we will hold adult education programs, conversion classes, Intro to Judaism programs, book study, and any other programs our community desires.
Why don’t you come along – and get on the bus? Jewish education should be fun, and we firmly believe that we are taking the driver’s seat for the future of Jewish education!