Friday, February 15, 2013

Purim Videos for Kids

The other day my colleague was lamenting the fact that it's hard to find Purim videos that are age-appropriate for young kids (i.e. those that don't have bad language, too much sexuality, etc).  The irony of her complaint is that the "real" Purim story (i.e. the Book of Esther found in the Hebrew Bible) is definitely rated R.  There are many details that we avoid (or re-write) when we tell the story to children in order to make it a G or PG version instead of the R version it actually is.

All that being said, I did come across two very simple versions of the Purim story that are appropriate for  preschool or early elementary school kids.  Without further ado...

The Purim Story from Shalom Sesame:

From G-dcast, The Purim Story for Kids and Other Double Dutch Jumping Hipsters:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Soaking Oneself in Torah

It's been a long time since my last blog post, and it's been even longer since I wrote something original (i.e. not just cutting and pasting from elsewhere in the blogosphere).  I'm sorry to say that the dry spell is going to last a little longer, except that I want to share another article from the blog called "Kol Isha: Women Rabbis Speak Out."   It's about studying Torah, and I especially love the part at the end in bold:

[To study Torah] all you need is an hour. A partner. A commitment. An openness to struggle. A willingness to learn.

 Without further ado...

La’asok B’Divrei Torah: Soaking Oneself In Torah

by ravlinda
Dan Nichols' sings la’asok b’divrei torah is as sweet as honey on our tongues. The ending of the traditional blessing for Torah study is translated in our prayer-book  Mishkan T’fillah as: “to engage in words of Torah”. We also might translate it as busying ourselves, or working with Torah. But most of all, I love Arthur Waskow’s wordplay: “to soak” (la’asok) in words of Torah. Torah for me is like taking a warm bath. It adds a comforting glow, provides a focus or refocus, so that I can approach the world with new vitality.
A confession: Torah for me has become an addictive regular habit. Every Wednesday at 1pm half-a-dozen women congregants gather in my office to become my study partners for an hour. This year we are slowly reading Abraham Joshua Heschel’s The Sabbath.  The structure I have struck with these ladies is the same one that I have with my other Torah enablers, my one-on-one rabbinic study partners, the ones with whom I tackle Zohar or Hasidic Commentary or Talmud.
Such study is very different to “teaching” in the congregation, where I might be viewed as the “guide” or “expert” in the subject matter we tackle. That learning takes preparation and is goal oriented. Study is different.  I have fixed guidelines for study which have allowed me through the years to make this endeavor part of my daily routine.
My study rules are as follows:
  1. Study should be done in true partnership.
  2. Partners should agree on a topic to study that has an equal amount of unfamiliarity to all.
  3. Study is time limited to a regular hour or hour-and-a-half on a specific day of the week.
  4. Study should be viewed as a non-negotiable appointment, and the only reason not to study is in the case of a true emergency or vacation/conference time.
  5. No partner should pre-prepare to enter this sacred time. All learning is done there and then.
In study, we are all journey-folk , learning from one another, wrestling with the text and gleaning from its pages. Study in such a way means letting go and making struggle part of the process. The immediacy allows for first-time revelations and insights. The unprepared but open study table allows the text to speak to us and through us. The text becomes the direction and guide and a mirror.
I share this, because so often I hear from folk that they wished they had the time for Jewish learning. They lament they cannot because life feels more urgent.  Or they feel time poor. They are discouraged by the enormity of the task or their lack of expertise.
But all you need is an hour. A partner. A commitment. An openness to struggle. A willingness to learn.