In preparation for Tu B'Shvat, now t-14 days, I'm forwarding to you this list of books for young children in English and Hebrew.Trees, seeds, weeds, are you reading carefully? You've probably already started, but it's never too late to plant new seeds and to nurture the "sprouts" growing right in front of you. Thank you to Risa from the Israel Book Store in Brookline, MA for these beautiful resources.
Order from Israel Book Shop here: http://www.israelbookshop.com/judaica-gifts/Tu_BShvat.html
Tu Bishvat Resources:Children's Books: EnglishAleph-Bet Israel by Galia Armeland (EKS) $10.95 less 10% SC
Artscroll Children's Book of Berachos by Shmuel Blitz(Artscroll) $15.99 less 20%
Behold the Trees by Sue Alexander (Arthur Levine Books) $16.95 less 20%
.Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss (HarperTrophy) $6.99 less 20% SC
Dear Tree by Doba Rivka Weber (Hachai) $10.95 less 10% HC
Gavriel and the Golden Garden by Menucha Fuchs (Judaica Press) $11.95 less 10% HCGiving Tree by Shel Silverstein (HarperCollins) $16.99 less 20% HC
God's World by Sylvia Rouss ((Pitspopany) $9.95 less 20%Grandpa and Me on Tu B'Shevat by Marji E. Gold-Yukson (Kar-Ben) $6.95 less 20% SCGreen Bible Stories for Children by Tami Lehman-Wilzing (Kar-Ben)$17.95 less 20% HC $7.95 less 20% SC
Growing with the Tree by Rachel Stein (Feldheim) $12.99 less 10% HCIt's Too Crowded in Here! And Other Jewish Folktales retold for young childrenby Vicki L. Weber(Behrman House) $8.95 less 10% SCIncludes a story titled: Why Trees Don't TalkIt's Tu B'Shevat by Edie Stoltz Zolkower (Kar-Ben) $5.95 less 20% BOARDNEW:Jewish Big Book: Tu B'Shvat (Torah Aura) $29.95Lag Ba'Omer and Tu Bishvat with Bina, Benny and Chaggai Hayonah(Artscroll Children's Holiday Series) $10.99 less 10%Thank you, Trees by Gail Langer Karwoski and Marilyn E. Gootman(Kar-Ben) $5.95 less 20%The Little Leaf by Chana Sharfstein (Hachai) $10.95 less 10% HC
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (Random House) $14.95 less 20% HCMayer Aaron Levi and His Lemon Tree by Tami Lehman-Wilzig (Gefen)$12.95 less 10% HCThe Mitzvah That Landed on Our Windowsill: A Shiluach Ha-Kan Story Captured in Photographs (Feldheim) $11.99 less 10% HCMy First Brachos Board Book by B.C. Edelman (Judaica Press)$13.95 less 10% BOARD
Naamah, Noah's Wife by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso (Skylight Paths) $7.95 less 20% BOARD
NEW: Netta and Her Plant by Ellie B. Gellman (Kar-Ben)$17.95 less 20% HC $7.95 less 20% SC
Noah's Wife: The Story of Naamah by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso (Jewish Lights)$16.95 less 20% HC" The story may be the starting point of a conversation about our responsibility forcaring for the earth."Rabbi Rocketpower in a Tooty-Fruity Tale for Tu Bishvatby Rabbi Susan Abramson (Oak Leaf Systems) $9.95 less 10%Sammy Spider's First Tu B'Shevat by Sylvia A. Rouss (Kar-Ben) $7.95 less 20% SCSolomon and the Trees by Matt Biers-Ariel (URJ Press) $13.95 less 20%Talia and the Rude Vegetables by Linda Elovitz Marshall (Kar-Ben) $6.95 less 20% SCTiny Seed by Eric Carle (Aladdin) $7.99 less 20%
Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry (Harper) $6.99 less 20%Children's Books: HebrewAggadat Choni HaMiagel (Gesher Kal Series/Jewish Agency) $9 SC
Chanan HaGanan by Rinat Hoffer (Zmora-Betan) $18.95 less 10% HCCharuzim Tiimimim by Datya Ben-Dor (Modan) $13.95 less 10% HC or BOARDEliezer VihaGezer by Levin Kipnis (Zimzun) $20.95 less 10% HC
Etz B'Tzarah ("Leaf Trouble") by Jonathan Emmett (Kineret) $21.95 less 10% HCHaAryeh SheAhav Tut by Tirza Atar (HaKibbutz HaMiuchad) $17.95 less 10% HC
HaEtz HaNadiv by Shel Silverstein (Modan) $17.95 less 10% HC
HaEtz Shel Yair by Rena Shlein (Tzabar) $7.95 less 10% HCHaEtz SheRatza Yom Huledet by Tomer Sarig (Tzabar) $10.50 less 10% HCHaShafan ViHagezer by Tzvia Wilensky (Sefer Lakol) $11.95 less 10% HCHaShatil Shel Mor by Sarah Zluf (Zimzun) $12.95 less 10% HCKadur HaAretz Sheli ("The Earth Book") by Todd Parr (Kineret) $21.99 less 10% HC
Lamah Etz HaOren Lo Miushar by Mira Owen and Esther Bruner(Nitzanim Series: CET/Melton) $4.95 SCLihatzil Et Kochav Hayam : Sefer HaSippurim HaYarok (Agur)by Shlomo Abas $17.95 less 10% HC
Mahi Eretz Yisrael? by Margalit Kvenshtock $18 SCPerach, Perach Al Tivkeh! (Flower, Flower, Don't Cry) by Paul Kor $18.95 less 10% HC
Tu Bishvat BaSheleg (Nitzanim Series) by Mira Owen and Esther Bruner (Matach) $4.95 SC
Tu Bishvat Hegia! by Sharon Levi (Ofarim) $12.95 less 10% HC
Yom Huledet LaGina by Rena Shlein (Sefer Lakol) $17.95 less 10% HCZaroni by Dani Nachalieli (Korim) $12.95 less 10% HC
Tu Bishvat Resources:Celebrating the Jewish Year : The Winter Holidaysby Paul Steinberg (JPS) $22 less 20%"Bursting with primary sources, prayers, rituals and stories, Celebrating the Jewish Year includes contributions from some of the greatest Jewish thinkers in history, as well as original essays by acclaimed writers of today."
150 Ways for Kids and Grown-Ups to Get Into Nature and Build a GreenerFuture by Judy Molland (Free Spirit Publishing) $10.99 SCGreening Book: Being a Friend to Planet Earth
by Ellen Sabin(Watering Can Press) $24.95 less 10% HC"The Greening Book grows kids with character. It's an activity book...and an educational tool that engages children in learning about environmental issues and discovering their power to make a difference in the world bu understanding, nurturing and protecting Planet Earth."
Kids' Catalog of Animals and the Earth
by Chaya M. Burstein (JPS)$16.95 less 20% SC(... all the information , eco-activities adn ideas you'll need to make a difference in the earth's future. Written from a Jewish perspective...teaches us how to be partners with God in caring for our world."
A Kids' Guide to Climate Change and Global Warming: How to Take Action!by Cathryn Berger Kaye (Free Spirit Publishing) $6.95 SC"...Here are the facts, tools and inspiration you need to get out there and make a difference in the world." Grades 6 and up
Listen to the Trees: Jews and the Earth
by Molly Cone"Using Torah texts and traditional Jewish stories as a basis, this book for intermediate grades presents an exploration of ecology and the interconnectedness of all life on earth."Includes stories, cartoons and full-color illustrations. $14.95 less 10% SC
A Person Is Like A Tree: A Sourcebook for Tu Bishvat by Yitzhak Buxbaum(Jason Aronson) $28.95 less 10%
Seder Tu Bishvat: The Festival of Trees by Adam Fisher (CCAR)$14.95Simple Actions for Jews to Help Green the PlanetJews, Judaism and the Environmentby Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins $17.99 less 10% SC
Spirit in Nature: Teaching Judaism and Ecology on the Trailby Matt Biers-Ariel, Deborah Newbrun and Michal Fox Smart (Behrman House)$15.95 less 10% SCTorah of the Earth: Exploring 4,000 Years of Ecology in Jewish Thoughtedited by Arthur Waskow (Jewish Lights Publishing)Volume I:Biblical/RabbinicVolume II: Zionism/Eco-JudaismEach volume $14.95 less 20%Way into Judaism and the Environment by Jeremy Bernstein (Jewish Lights)"Explores the ways in which Judaism contributes to contemporary social-environmental issues." $18.99 less 20% SCWhole School Holiday Curriculum: Tu B'Shvat (Torah Aura)Each Whole-School Holiday lesson contains 12 student folders and a teacher's guideI. Tu B'Shvat Celebrations $12.952. The Four High Holidays $12.953. Honi the Circle Maker $12.954. Tree Blessings
$12.955. Tu B'Shvat Food $12.956. Tu B'Shvat Seder $12.957. A Day in the Life of a Verse $12.95Whole School Holiday Curriculum: Environment (Torah Aura)$12.95/packet of 12 student folders plus a teacher's guide1. In Our Image2. Guarding the Planet3. Caring for Animals4. Birkhot Ha-Nehanim5. Beyond Bal-Tash'hit6. Exploring Modern Jewish Food Ethics7. Exploring a Jewish Response to Climate ChangeThe Teen Guide to Global Action: How to Connect with Others to Create Social Changeby Barbara A. Lewis (Free Spirit Publishing) $12.95 SC" Features hundreds of local and global actions in:human rights; hunger and homelessness; health and safety; education;environment and conservation; youth representation; peace and friendshipTrees, Earth and Torah: A Tu B'Shvat Anthology edited by Ari Elon, Naomi Hyman and Arthur Waskow (JPS) $23.95 less 20%" This anthology draws upon biblical, rabbinical, medieva, and modern sources- from art, music, recipes, and crafts, as well as fiction, poetry and essays - about the significance and historical development of Tu B'Shvat..."A Wild Faith: Jewish Ways into Wilderness, Wilderness Ways Into Judaismby Rabbi Mike Comins (Jewish Lights) $16.99 less 20% SCDVDs:Eliezer V'HaGezer $24.95 less 10%
Based on the classic Israeli children's bookOther stories included on the DVD:HaEfroach Shehalach Lichapes Acheret;HaMitriya HaGedola Shel Abba; Maaseh B'KovahGrandpa's Tree (Ergo Media)A Jewish American student comes to Israel to locate his grandfather's tree, planted a half century earlier in a Jewish National Fund grove. In the course of his search, we learn about contemporary Israel, its emphasis on land reclamation and afforestation, and about Tu B'Shevat, Arbor Day. Directed by Telma Steklov. Starring Jonathan Miller.24 minutes $34.95 less 10%
Shirim Tiimim (Matan Ariel) "Food Songs in Hebrew" $19.95 less 10%Shalom Sesame: Grover Plants a Tree$14.95 less 10%"It's Tu Bishvat! Grover, Brosh and Avigail get back to natureas they learn how to plant trees and make the world a betterplace."Tu Bishvat CDs:Earth Worm Disco (Shira Kline) $16.95 less 10%"...celebrating the wonders of growing up green."Tu Bishvat Hegea with Ariella Savir $15.95 less 10%HaShekdia Porachat: Mivchar Shirim L'Tu Bishvat $15.95 less 10%Shirim Tiimimim (Matan Ariel) $10.95Songs about different foods and the garden.Tu Bishvat Crafts:
Tulip Magnet (Benny's)Wooden tulips to decorate with markers, paint, glitter glue, and stickers.$6.99/10 in bagTu B'Shvat Sponges (Benny's)Sponge painting activity. $14.95Tu Bishvat Stickers/Foam Shapes/Stencils
Fruit stickers $3/10 sheetsShkedia (almond tree) $3.50/pkg. of 200Shkedia foam shapes $5.95/8 sets
Vegetable Stickers (script) $3/10 sheetsVegetable Stickers $3/10 sheetsShivat HaMinim (Seven Species) Stickers $3/10 sheetsCitrus Fruit $2.95/pkg. of 200Gardening $3.50/pkg. of 200Shivat HaMinim (Seven Species) $9.50/18 sets of 8Shivat HaMinim foam shapes $5.95/10 sets7 HaMinim stencils $5.95/package of 7Tu Bishvat Posters:Interactive Tu Bishvat Poster with velcro (Zerach) $10.50
Interactive Tu Bishvat Poster with velcro (Zerach) $12.50
Colorful poster in Hebrew and English of symbols, customs and activities associated with Tu Bishvat. Laminated (Benny's) $10.95
Tu B'Shvat Cut-Out Poster (Benny's) $12.95
Seven Species poster laminated (Zerach) $8
Seven Species poster laminated (Zerach) $6
Tu B'Shvat Poster SetIncludes 9 pictures 12.5 in. x 8.5 in. $16.95/setTu Bishvat 3 Children Planting Bulletin Board Set (Benny's) $22.95Tu Bishvat Project Pages $6/pkg. of 40Trees, Fruit and Vegetables Classification KitInlcudes velcro board and 59 flashcards. (Benny's) $19.95Four Seasons Trees (Carson-Dellosa) $9.99Bulletin board displayBig-Tree/ Kid- Drawn (Carson-Dellosa) $11.99Bulletin board displayShivat HaMinim Poster SetIncludes 7 pictures 13 in. x 9.5 in $16.95Tu Bishvat Resources in Hebrew:Chagim B'Ivrit: Ramah I, II, (URJ Press) $9.35 each
Each level of this new series contains a section on Tu Bishvat featuringstories, activities, songs.Particulary useful resource for stories told in easy Hebrew relating to each holiday of the year.Tchanim U'fiilyot L'Chag HaChanukah V'Tu Bishvat by Miriam Tzarfati(David Rechgold Publishing) $20Discussion ideas, craft suggestions, clip art,poems and more...Geared for Kindergarten and Lower Elementary.Miyatzeg: Tchanim U'fiiluyot L'Tu Bishvat$10.50Background on the holiday, uses for trees, poems, worksheets, stories, clip art and more.NEW: Zman L'Sasson U'Lizikaron : Kerech Alef (Keren Tali)Wonderful sourcebook for all the Chagim, for upper grades. $12 each volumeNEW: Maagal Hachagim (Keren Tali)Lovely resource on the entire holiday cycle, for elementary grades.$22
In the chorus to the song entitled, "Stop, Think, and Control" (words and music by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek) children learn not only to sing the words, but to internalize the message that that we all get angry, but that there are ways of dealing with those feelings. The words go like this:
"STOP, THINK, TAKE CONTROL of yourself,
You've got to STOP, THINK AND CONTROL.
Find another solution to the anger pollution.
Gotta Stop Think and Control"
Very young children know about feelings. They want and need the tools to express those feelings. They need the words, they need the role models. They know very well that we ALL get angry. They- as well as all of the adults in their midst need to learn to USE WORDS. But to be really effective, they need to learn this in a society where the adults are also learning to find other solutions to the ANGER POLLUTION in our culture, and in the world.
It is only too easy to point fingers to "mental illness" and "gun control" very big, 'macro issues' Yes, certainly more gun laws need to be enacted, and understanding, treatment, and legislation of mental illness need to change.
Words like "EVIL" are hard to grasp. Using words like "Sick" or "Bad" should be used very cautiously with young children because all kids get sick, and a situation like mass murder is well beyond 'bad.' Think about how terrible things can happen when people lose control and stop thinking. Help children talk about what to do when they get angry. This is a conversation that should be part of our every day conversations not just in response to tragedy.
How to help change a culture? Culture is the language we use every day. Culture is the ways we relate to each other. It is the lyrics of our songs. It is what we believe in and how we work and play. It is what we eat and how we share meals together. Our culture is the little things that we do everyday. Those little things become the culture which defines us.
Keep it simple. While we call for changes in the entertainment industry, turn off the TV- the news as well as the 'drama' and the eliminate violent video games.
While we call for gun control legislation on the national level, on a personal level, let's think about some non-violent solutions to the 'anger pollution' we all confront each day.
Nachas- that special feeling of pride and satisfaction you get from others.
Interestingly you can't 'give' it to yourself. "Yidishe Nachas" is that special feeling that mothers and grandmothers would/do feel when the 'kinder' the children, or the 'anechkla' (grandchildren) do something that we value. And that is the point of the story. We show pride in certain actions, words, achievements, accomplishments, and sensitivities in our kids and that's one of the ways they learn what it is that we value.
I would do anything if only I could see again the smile of my own mother a"h. Her smile meant everything to me and I learned all those behaviors, words and kindnesses that I could do that would make her smile.
Nachas 2.o - this is what I call the next stage of nachas. When after years of 'input' -living a life of smiles and encouragement, directions and support it comes back to you. The first level is the direct sense of pride when the next generation is learning and the nachas you get is direct from their actions. The second stage is when they call to tell you what they know will give you nachas!
Case in point: After a recent plane ride with his young sons, my son called me with a "nachas report"
" Mommy,You are gonna love this"- he said knowingly, "When Yosef looked out the window of the plane he saw the incredible sunset, and he said 'Wow, I got to paint that!" as he tore open his backpack of art supplies."
"Yidishe Nachas" not only comes at the Seder. It is based on sharing our passions, our values, our appreciation every day of the year. My kids know how I love the mountains and the sunsets, the birds and the flowers and basically all of the natural world. It is sursprising that I still have full use of my arms from all the times I spent pointing enthusiastically and screaming "Look at the sunset, Look at the mountains"- But my kids learned, and have called me from wherever they are when they see a spectacular sunset.
2.0 nachas- seeing that we can transmit the values we live - by age 6 a child can respond to the natural world, spiritually with Brachot (blessings) and with a desire to engage with the world, and make it a part of himself by translating it into his art!
Trust me - for an artist, and a bubbie like me, this is real nachas!
What brings you nachas?
Don’t be a chicken!
But be sure to come meet ours in March!
Don’t miss out on an inspirational Shabbaton filled with learning, celebration, and groundbreaking Jewish thought. Join an intergenerational, pluralistic community of Jewish farmers, rabbis, educators, scholars and consumers from across the country. Register now before it is too late!
While the words "Beit Midrash" and 'farm' don't frequently occur in the same sentence, they have become a combination over the past three years at the Pearlstone Retreat Center in Reistertown, MD.
The first time we attended the Kayam Farm Beit Midrash, I told my husband it would be a glatt -kosher experience, a Shabbos of learning, in a beautiful setting with more than adequate accomodations. Afterall, farming is not camping, and you do need a good night's sleep. I did not tell him in advance what the median age might be.
Let's just say that we helped to make it a truly intergenerational experience. We were so impressed with this younger generation and their enthusiasm not only for sustainable agriculture, but for really wanting to look into classical Jewish texts, and to see what Judaism has to say and teach us about our relationship to the land- the land of Israel, as well as the land we live on. and for many, work on.
This is a serious enterprise of combining Torah with cutting edge- sustainable, organic agricultural concepts. I was so impressed by the commitment to learn, live, eat, and pray in new and in traditional ways. This is an opportunity to see how some people who may never have opened a Jewish text have now found a reason and a way to delve into the learning.
Come see for yourself, spend a Shabbat on the farm- check out what is already growing in the green house, taste the homemade cheese and find a study partner who may be double, or half your age.
Take a Risk.
To be a 'green bubbie' you don't need your own children, you can nourish local sprouts! There is a wonderful crop of new sprouts out there and they are growing up Jewish, and healthy!
Come for Shabbos!
contact me for details on registering
A spontaneous act: a 17 month old reaches his little hand onto the lap of a 1oo year old woman and pulls on her fingers to wish her a Good Shabbos. And then, satisfied with the enthusiastic response he goes from person to person, across the women's section, at the end of the Shabbos service at the Assisted Living Center.
I watched with tears in my eyes as these elderly ladies, many dressed beautifully in their Shabbos finery, caught this little tiny hand as they greeted him with smiles, "Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos." While he doesn't speak yet, he certainly communicates, and has internalized the social interactions of eye contact, handshaking, the importance of touching and interpersonal connection. That these gestures were familiar was confirmed by his 4 year old brother, proudly remarking that 'this is the first time he has gone around to wish everybody a Good Shabbos!" Both little boys know that this is what is done at the end of the Shabbos davening; this is how we grow together, and become a community.
In the Men's section, the little toddler walked between the wheel chairs, waiting patiently until each man returned his handshake. Even though he uses just a few fingers, and alternates hands, the littlest member of this 'congregation/community' is a participant, a member of the tribe!
While I stood in the background, I knew I was the acknowledged (relatively young) grandmother- I have not felt this 'young'-- and I mean, really felt 'young' as I did while watching these beautiful elderly ladies in their 80's, 90's and 100's I found myself looking up to them as role models to me- yes I hope I look that good! I hope I have such a sense of style. I hope I can still daven and read or remember the prayers. And yet, when one of the women told me she has 25 great-grand children, I cringed when she told me she hardly sees any of them. I asked her to 'keep an eye on mine.' I hope I will always feel like I see my kids very frequently.
I don't live near my own grand children, although we are within driving distance- while I do see them often, and talk to them almost daily, I am grateful that they can be a source of nachas and joy to the many 'bubbies' and zaydes' they meet where they live.
It's a sort of "reverse green bubbie" phenomenon- reaching out wherever you are. Connecting across the generations is good for all of us at every age. It's life well lived, appreciated for what we have in common. Our humanity. Our capacity to reach out and connect, hands across the generations is a good prescription for a healthy heart.
So whether you are about to embark on a Thanksgiving celebration, and/or you are thinking about your Shabbos table- expand your age span - and love the ones you're with!
Many of us are familiar with the Pray, Eat, Pray, pattern of Jewish practice. Well, in this Harvest Season- which is also the spiritual season of birth and renewal- a New Year brings us many opportunities for reflection, renewal and redemption. Today is Hoshana Rabbah, bringing us to the end of Sukkos, and time to put away our Lulav and Estrog- Let's take action and put into practice our words to connect mind, body and spirit, to live in a way that our life is our thoughts, deeds and actions. We jsut read in Koheles, that there is a time to plant and a time to sow- well if you want a harvest for next Sukkos, get ready to plant now!
It is a time to begin the cycle of a new year- not only in our minds and hearts, but in the very real gardens and grounds that we live on.
So here it is - a call to action: GROW YOUR OWN (Aravos- willows.)
Keep your Aravos in water and they will sprout roots. Plant the rooted willows into the ground, some sun, shade is good.
Become part of the pray, plant and grow cycle yourself.
The 'aravos' willows will grow here in the Northest, and almost anywhere- we live in the Philadelphia area and the Aravos I planted almost 20 years ago are now big bushes, whose branches are shared each year with many friends and neighbors and visiting family. In years past we have backed up several institutions even Penn Hillel! Our Aravos harvest seems to grow as it is used, the more you cut, the more it grows!
Each year my husband (the green zayda) cuts back the growth on Tammuz 17- (which as you may recall, is a Fast day) Once again breaking with the "pray eat pray" syndrome, it proves that even on days when you are fasting and don't eat, well, you can still foster new growth in the garden, as you cut, pray, cut!
If you are reading this after Sukkos, and or you don't have any Aravos this year to root- stop by some time and we will share our Aravos with you. The good thing about Aravos, just like 'bubbies' if they are 'green' they are still alive, ready and willing to grow.
One of the great joys in life is being happy for other people's happiness. Think about it. Even if math was not your forte, imagine the multiplier effect here. If you limit your joy to yourself, or your immediate family, well, no matter how big that family is, just imagine if you enlarge that circle of people, the potential for more joy is exponential.
A green bubbie is someone who is not afraid or shy about branching out and enlarging that caring circle of family.
When I was a young mother, I remember being admonished, along with my whole generation, "Don't be your child's friend."- and "Don't be "friends with your children's friends." But that is very different from inter-generational friendship. When boundaries and roles are clear, we can relate not as peers, but as supportive, caring, 'other' people, rendering another definition for the word 'relative'
We just attended the wedding of one of my daughter's friends. Since they were in the second grade, she has always called me "Mrs. Feldman" We always liked "to talk" to de-brief, and to consider options. My joy at her wedding was deep- just as our talks were always, well, "deep."
I have always felt that parent-hood is sort of a team sport- we are all in this together, and we each have a 'role' or position to play, supporting all of our kids. My older son was just lamenting how much he misses, and wants to get together with, the father of his best friend. They too used to have special talks. When I mentioned my son's sentiments to that particular father, tears welled up in his eyes as he told me the feeling was mutual.
It's special to have 'inter-generational' friends. When boundaries are clear, generations distinct, the roles we are able to play in each others lives, can enhance the relationships in our own families, just as they strengthen the growth of all involved.
Years ago, when I wrote my dissertation, I wrote about the friendship networks that are formed when parents of young children meet each other as their children start preschool, or day care. I was referring to those strong friendships amongst the parents which would grow as we attended and cheered at all those games, celebrated birthdays and holidays, and fretted over each parental decision - from when to start drinking from a cup, when to let a child ride around the block on a bike, to choosing schools to celebrating life cycle milestones as our children grew up.
What I did not know then, was that just as we were forming friendship networks with the other parents, we were also planting strong roots of trust and becoming the community pillars on which we would be able support each other's children, and give them more than any of us could have provided alone.
Kayam Farm- the scene of "Planting Seeds: The First Jewish Early Childhood Conference.
It was better than imagined. It was the participants willingness to "dig deeply" on all fronts that mattered. People came from as far as Seattle,North Carolina, Texas, Boston and Worcester, Florida and New York as well as from nearby Virgina, Pennsylvania,New Jersey and of course Baltimore. There were nature specialists, ece directors, teachers, a rabbi and a great mix of ages and persuasions. There were the gardeners and the wannabes and together we weeded, worked on the farm, engaged with the farm animals at a distance of our choice and got to see red wiggler worms up close and personal. There were sessions on nutrition and healthy eating, and great meals for our own sustenance.
There was an ongoing discussion of what makes the garden 'Jewish' and how to bring the very young into this endeavor.
As the 'green bubbie' I gave the opening keynote, trying my best to weave together Richard Louv's wonderful book, "The Last Child in the Woods" with Jewish Identity and Inspiration from the Garden- For those of you not there, I used my actual weaving expertise to invite those present to image the 'warp' of the loom as Torah and the weft as the experiences in the natural world. The warp of the loom is the backbone and strength of the fabric..Sometimes that warp is invisible, and sometimes given the design of the pattern it becomes obvious and beautifully woven together- that's what create the design of the fabric. So too, if the foundation of what we do in the garden comes from our growing and continual study of what the Torah teaches us, that is the foundation of what we teach, of who we are, and what we do we the children. The stronger the warp, the stronger the fabric we create.
And just in case anyone thinks young children are too young,not so. There is no better example that the song, "Yom Rishon Avodah, Yom Sheni Avodah....Yom Shabbat Menucha" (with the hand motions of course) that demonstrates that even the youngest of children can participate in our Torah based tradition- 6 days of work, and on Shabbat we rest"
just like it says in the Torah!
So, as we prepare for Shabbos, let's try to think of all the work we've done all week- in and out of the garden- how we finish it, and rest on the coming Shabbat.
My hope is that this was only the first Jewish Early Childhood Gardening Conference- There is no way I can convey the extraordinary interplay of the parallel sessions of the Ashville JCCs' Early Childhood Cur brilliantly conveyed and shared by LAEL and JILL along with the workshops given by the incredibly knowledgeable staff of Kayam Farm. They live the life they are aspiring to and it is inspiring to work and learn along side of them
I look forward to the next gathering and learning and bringing our field to new heights,
as together we dig deeply into our Jewish Tradition and into the earth from which G-d created us all.
Will you still need me when I'm 64? Today is actually the 64th birthday of 'the green zaydee.' I realized today how much the operative word in the Beatles'song was always the "I" as in "when I am 64"
It's one thing to imagine oneself growing older- it always seems so far away. It is quite another thing to think of family and friends growing older. As a boomer, I was always struck by how many people were my age, no matter how old I was. I remember when I thought everybody was a 'pre-teen' Of course the advertising business has reinforced my
ego=centrism at every stage. I have always told my children that I have never had a new idea or interest, or reached a new milestone in what I thought of as my own development, without having some version of my newest stage or interest appear as a cover story in the NYTimes magazine.
Life catches up to the lyrics of the songs we sang before we were 3o. Now that we are in cutting edge Boomer age range, it's good to reflect and re-group.
YES I thank G-d I still love the 'green zayda' in my life, and that our life is so much more than I could have imagined at 30. I do have to say that the stanza about weeding the garden and doing the chores- who could ask for more??? That still resonates.
It is not always so simple to have a life filled with the simple things. Knowing what the basics are, and being grateful for what we do have is a blessing everyday.
'64' doesn't seem bad,it's much better than I thought it could be (no, I am not 64)- it's slightly over half the way I see things. And the best is being with, and around people of all ages- not every one is 64!
It's not about letting yourself 'go' as we get older, it's more about letting yourself "become" not only what we imagined, but so much more.
Happy Birthday, to all the green bubbies and zaydees!