We have great activities for children of all ages on Shabbat in the Fall, Winter and Spring. See upcoming Shabbat information in the sidebar to the right and see our calendar for future activities.
UT’s Tot Shabbat, led by popular guitarist and singer Ora Fruchter, is for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers – accompanied by their adult guests, of course. Everyone joins in singing, dancing, and storytelling to welcome Shabbat. There’s plenty of challah and grape juice to go around, too. For complete list of dates see our calendar.
Ora Fruchter is a Brooklyn based puppeteer, performer, director and educator. Ora writes and performs regularly with her companies Yellow Sneaker Puppets and Doppelskope, using puppetry and music to create innovative and engaging experiences for all ages. You can learn more about her work on her website, www.yellowsneakerpuppets.com.
Out of the Shabbox, a cross-cultural, interfaith, interactive and free drop-in program for toddlers up to age 5, uses movement, music, and storytelling to explore Shabbat themes such as peace and charity. We start and end with snacks and in between we sing, dance and tell stories about the things we value and that unite us. For complete list of dates see our calendar.
The Out of the Shabbox team:
Julie Gayer Kris is Artistic Director of Avodah Dance and Artist-in-Residence at the 14th Street Y’s LABA Kids. She also leads dance workshops for preschoolers, teens and Jewish educators.
Shawn Shafner is creator of the POOP Project, plays Pablo in Nickelodeon’s The Backyardigans Live!, is a Storahtelling Artist-in-Residence at JCC Manhattan Zabar Nursery School, and a teaching artist with Arts for All.
Ben Rubin is a mixer, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist. He performs in North America and Europe, has recorded over 80 albums, and his music has appeared in many feature films and TV shows. Visit benrubin.com.
Amanda Miller is a writer, actor, yoga instructor and Community Word Project trained teaching artist who has been teaching in NYC’s Jewish community since 2011. She has taught drama and yoga at Sprout Brooklyn Day Camp for the past two summers and currently teaches at Union Temple and Kolot Chayeinu. Amanda also trains B’nai Mitzvah students for Storahtelling/Lab-Shul and performs original family-friendly Torah-themed scripts at Temple Emmanu-El once a month. www.onebreaththenanother.com.
A welcoming circle time with song opens the morning for 4-6 year olds. Shawn Shafner, one of our Out of the Shabbox leaders, shows the children how to light the Shabbat candles, to make motzi, to say kiddish and leads the children to feel the peace and joy of Shabbat. The rituals and blessings of Hanukkah, Passover, Purim and other holidays are the focus when they are approaching. An art project, like making challah covers or creating a personal family blessing, follows, and parents are welcome to join in. After that, everyone enjoys a delicious Shabbat pizza lunch. It’s a wonderful way introduce your child to Jewish home rituals and to connect with other families. This PJ Library program is funded by a grant from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, is free for all. Starting September 24, 2016 through May 20, 2017. For complete list of dates see our calendar.
A lively service for children of all ages and their families followed by a festive potluck dinner.We ask that you bring a main course, salad, side dish or dessert for 10 people: home-cooked or take-out is fine. After dinner there is supervised play for children and time to schmooze for the adults. See the UT Calendar and plan on coming to our next Family Shabbat.
UT’s special High Holy Day children’s services are noted for their warmth and music and accessibility. They begin an hour before the adult services so that parents may attend with their children. Professional child care is available at no cost in our large preschool playroom during the adult services so parents of young children are able to attend.
Youngsters in the Religious School decorate the UT sukkah with their handmade creations. All families and children have a chance during the 8 days of Sukkot to enter the sukkah, say blessings and partake of earth’s bounty.
The entire congregation comes together to light the menorah, feast on latkes with all the trimmings, sing Hanukkah songs with our student cantor and musicians, and, in the glow of the Hanukkah candles, reflect on the meaning of the holiday.
The topsy-turvy Purim carnival includes games, hamentaschen, performances, and a wild Purim-shpiel during which everyone enjoys drowning out the name of Hamen. Children (and most adults) dress up in fantastic costumes as Queen Esther, Mordechai, Hamen and others making this easily the most colorful day of the year.
On Passover the traditional symbols of the holiday – matzah, maror, salt water, lamb shank, and bitter herbs – are embodied in a variety of chocolate forms during our school-wide chocolate seder, making the story of the Exodus both delicious and memorable.
Looking for Jewish-themed books for your child? You’re invited to sign up for PJ Library. Through this program, children from age six months to eight years receive high-quality, age-appropriate Jewish children’s literature and music – FREE! Among the books and CDs PJ Library has sent to families are: Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback; Before You Were Born by Howard Schwartz and beautifully illustrated by Kristina Swarna; and the lullaby CD Every Little Soul Must Shine, written and sung by Neshama Carlebach.
These great books are often featured at our Out of the Shabbox and It’s Time For Shabbat programs described above.