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Parshas Beshalach – Craft

This week’s Parsha is all about the B’nei Yisrael (children of Israel) leaving Mitzrayim (Egypt). Soon after Pharaoh allowed the children of Israel to leave, he chases after them to force them to return and the Israelites find themselves trapped between Pharaoh’s armies and the sea. G‑d tells Moses to raise his staff over the water; the sea splits to allow the Israelites to pass through, and then closes over the pursuing Egyptians. Moses and the children of Israel sing a song of praise and gratitude to G‑d. This is why this Shabbat is also known as Shabbat Shira, shabbat of song, and it is customary to leave out bread for the birds to eat over Shabbat.

Here is a Kriyat Yam Soof (splitting of the sea) craft. You will need:

  • Blue cards/construction paper (or any colour card and blue paint!)
  • Sand
  • Glue
  • Picture of B’nei Yisroel (attached below)
  • Picture of Mitzriyim (attached below)

JewsandMitzriyim

Here is what to do: If you haven’t got blue card, paint your different coloured card blue and leave it to dry. Fold the card into 3 sections. In the middle section, glue stick some sand and the picture of the B’nei Yisrael on the top. Fold over the 2 outer sections so it covers the middle section and glue the picture of the Mitzriyim onto it.

Your craft will have the picture of the Mitzriyim on the front and you will be able to open it up to find the B’nei Yisrael “walking” on the sand, through the split sea! Like so:

Egyptians

BneiYisrael

Here is a craft for Shabbat Shira. You will need:

  • Image of bird x2 (attached below)
  • Cotton wool
  • Colours or feathers
  • Small sandwich bag with some crumbs in it
  • Glue
  • Stapler (or thread)

ShabbatShira

Here is what you will need to do:

Decorate the 2 pictures of the bird either by colouring them in and glueing the feathers on to them. Staple (or thread together for more advanced child; hole punch the sides and give your child string to thread together) the birds together leaving a small gap to stuff with cotton wool. Stuff in the cotton so it looks full. Then, stick the sandwich bag with the crumbs in to its mouth, giving the effect of the bird eating the crumbs that is customary to feed them!

Good Shabbos!

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Woman-Friendly Haggada

The Haggada you choose will make or break your Pesach Seder. A poor translation, or a book with no commentaries, will leave you with a missed opportunity. Many women go through a meal devoid of the female take on our history and heritage. The text of the Haggada has very little to say about women, except for the fact that we are still obligated in joining, since we too were saved.

The Haggada I grew up with was The Family Haggada, which was adequate. It had clear instructions, good translation, but aside for that, it is not the one for me. Aside from not being Chabad (which obviously is not an issue for everyone), the commentaries are lacking. If there is a lull in the meal, you have no great reading to turn to. If someone asks a meaningful question, you have no book to rely on. It is not an expensive purchase if you need multiple, at around $3 a piece, but not the one I’ll be using this year. Again, as the average Haggada goes, it’s all about the guys.

TheFamilyHaggadah

When I was in Hevron, I picked up the most beautiful Haggada I had ever laid eyes on. The Katz Passover Haggada illustrated by Gadi Pollack, is one that you will not regret buying. On every page is a detailed and intricate depiction of life in Egypt. It is not for young children, due to some of the sad and violent pictures. Sometimes we forget the horrors of the life of a Jew during our slavery, with this book, we are reminded. Sometimes we forget the brutality and terror of the plagues, but this book is not afraid to illustrate the might with which they were punished.

KatzPassoverHagaddah

One picture stuck into my mind, such a sad picture, but so telling. It is an image of a woman crying out to Hashem, after the loss of her child. The commentary says, “As a woman named Rachel and her husband were mixing mortar, she gave birth to a child. The infant fell [] The woman’s anguished screams pierced the heavens [] On that night (one year later) Hashem destroyed all the firstborn of Egypt” (Chait 107). This was the first time I had heard about the plight of a Jewish woman in Egypt. The first time hearing about the strength of our prayers. The first time I saw such loss on a woman’s face. This was also the first time that I really knew that our cries are heard.

This is only one of one hundred pages. Every page has another wonder, from slavery to the crossing of the sea. Artwork has a power that words cannot always capture.

The book that I will be using this year is The Slager Edition of the Haggada. With clear instructions, great translations, and very clear font, I have enjoyed reading from this book for the last three years. It is laid out like the Gutnick Chumash, with basic questions as well as deeper chassidic teachings explaining the entirety of the evening.

SlagerEditionHaggadah

There are a few things that I found to be very meaningful as a woman reading at the seder. During the time of our slavery, women were oppressed worse than the men in many ways. According to the Arizal, women were kept from Mikva by the police (Miller 84), the women were exposed to such a spiritual “annihilation” that it was worse than the boys’ drowning (87)!

Even the more basic explanations are inspiring. Why do we keep the smaller piece of the middle Matza on the table? To remind us that if we can only see the “small piece of Matza” in our life, we should know that there is a bigger piece of the puzzle that Hashem is waiting to give us (8).

One of the most ignored themes of the Haggada is loss, the loss specifically interconnected with being in Galus. Each of us has experienced our form of loss, be it a financial loss, loss of innocence, or loss of a loved one. We only have the small piece of our “Matza” in life, we all feel a piece missing, but with a strong cry that will break the doors of heaven, we can bring the peace and joy that Hashem brought us during the Exodus of Egypt.