Family Fun Roundup

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Federation’s Family Fun Roundup

This series highlights timely and fun ideas for your family.


Family Fun Roundup #27: Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah (October 2022)

Chag Sameach (happy holiday)! We are in the middle of Sukkot (Khol HaMoed Sukkot, which literally means “the intermediate festival days”), and I hope you and your family have had an opportunity to enjoy this harvest holiday. It goes through this weekend, so you have plenty of time to celebrate and also to prepare for our next two holidays: Shemini Atzeret (Eighth Day of Assembly) and Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah). Learn more below!

    1. Party With Your Family and Your Jewish Community: Join a kid-friendly holiday celebration near you to celebrate these holidays with other families.
    2. Celebrate the Harvest: Sukkot is a harvest festival where, in ancient times, Jews would bring the first fruits of the autumn harvest to the Temple in Jerusalem. In modern times, you can honor the fruits of the season at one these fall festivals or by visiting a local pumpkin patch to pick your own.
    3. Learn About Shemini Atzeret: Shemini Atzeret comes at the start of the rainy season and is about praying for the rain required for things to grow in Israel. You can learn more in the PJ Library books, Maya Prays for Rain and Rainy Day Story, and you can find ideas on the Shemini Atzeret Holiday Hub. Since many communities are feeling the effects of too much rain after Hurricane Ian, consider how to contrast the need for rain in some areas and the need to help others after the storm. To help communities affected by Hurricane Ian, please visit shalomdc.org.
    4. Rejoice on Simchat Torah: Simchat Torah is a joyous holiday where we finish the annual reading of the Torah (the five books of the Hebrew Bible) and begin it anew. This happy holiday is a great opportunity to convey joy in being Jewish. Try one or more of these seven fun things to do with kids on Simchat Torah.

Don’t forget that PJ Library’s family guide to the fall holidays includes ALL of these holidays. You can access it online in multiple languages! If you’d like more ideas, please be in touch—we are here to help you have a joyous and meaningful holiday season.

Moadim L’simcha (may your times be happy),
Sarah

You can always keep up with the latest PJ Library co-sponsored programs on the Jconnect calendar or Facebook.


Family Fun Roundup #26: Making your High Holidays sweeter (September 2022)

Rosh Hashanah (“the head of the year”) is one of the sweetest holidays. Celebrating the “birthday of the world,” this Jewish New Year’s celebration includes many traditions that demonstrate both how we look back on the previous year and move forward into the new one. Starting on Sunday, September 25th at sundown, it will be the year 5783 on the Jewish calendar.

    1. Celebrate With Your Family and Your Jewish Community: Find a kid-friendly celebration or religious service for your family to celebrate before and during the holidays. A Time to Grow: A PJ Library
    2. Family Guide to the Fall Holidays: This beautifully updated PJ Library guide explores ways for your family to celebrate the Jewish fall holidays at home. The online guide includes printables, audio files, and special sections for each holiday. Full downloads are also available in Portuguese or Spanish.
    3. Read to Get Ready: In addition to the family guide, you may wish to use PJ Library books to introduce the holiday tradition and its deeper concepts. Personal favorites include Today Is the Birthday of the World; Jackie and Jessie and Joni and Jae; Tashlich at Turtle Rock; Jonah; and Are We Still Friends?
    4. Holiday Ideas: Find ideas for crafts, rituals, books, music, and more to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. You can also check out the PJ Library Quick Guide to Celebrating Rosh Hashanah With Kids for videos, recipes, and activities for kids and tweens.

You can always keep up with the latest PJ Library co-sponsored programs on the Jconnect calendar or Facebook.


Family Fun Roundup #25: Turning the page on a new year (August 2022)

These “dog days of summer” seem to be split between squeezing in the last bits of summer fun and preparing for a new school year. It’s also a time to start preparing for the Jewish New Year, and we have ideas for all of it!

    1. Back-to-School Rituals: When shopping for school supplies, consider having your child pick out some items to donate, explaining that doing so ensures every child a chance at a strong start to the school year. Within your family, you can incorporate one of these 25 back-to-school traditions (we love the “Study Buddy,” interview, and lunchbox love notes in particular!). For more ideas on prepping for the new year, including organizing and lunch tips, check out PJ Library’s Back to School Guide. One more idea to add: start your relationship with your child’s new teachers on the right foot by sharing a note of thanks.
    2. Reading to Get Ready: Books can be an easy conversation opener to help your child articulate their feelings about going back to school. You can find book suggestions to get them excited and work through any nervousness about starting a new grade or going to a new school. Here are more top-notch suggestions for building their emotional intelligence in a school context. 
    3. Reflecting on the Month of Elul: The Hebrew month of Elul begins next Friday, August 26th. As it’s the month leading up to the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it’s often spent in preparation and reflection. From hearing the shofar (ritual ram’s horn) to practicing forgiveness, there’s much you can do as a family to get ready for the Jewish New Year (which starts Sunday, September 25th at sundown). If you want to get a start on High Holiday prep, check out the PJ Library Guide to the Fall Holidays.
    4. Jewish Community Day at Nationals Park: Before summer ends, join the Jewish community at Nationals Park on Sunday, August 28th for a day of celebration, pride, and baseball! Buy your tickets through this special link for a chance to be on the field for the Presidents’ Race, receive our special Nationals-themed hat, and support Federation’s work in our community.

Mazel tov (congratulations) to PJ Library for sending out 50 million Jewish children’s books — and counting — and sharing more than 1,100 stories that reflect Jewish experiences from many perspectives, to families around the world! The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is proud to be a part of this worldwide phenomenon and to bring PJ Library to the Jewish community in Greater Washington.

You can always keep up with the latest PJ Library co-sponsored programs on the Jconnect calendar or Facebook.


Family Fun Roundup #24: Cool off with these hot ideas! (July 2022)

Wouldn’t “July” some great ideas for summer fun? So would we! Read on for ideas to play, spin, sing, and braid the month away.

 

    1. PJ Play Date: Mr. Popper’s Penguins: Join other PJ and PJ Our Way families on Sunday, July 31st for a matinee of this delightful Imagination Stage show! With these specially-priced tickets for our families and an adorable gift for the kids, you’ll be the coolest parents around!
    2. Holla for Challah: If you want to try your hand at making challah at home, here are some easy recipes (including an egg-free/vegan option) from PJ Library. Molly Yeh’s recipe includes the game-changing tip to roll out the dough in a rectangle and cut the slices to be braided rather than rolling out individual logs or snakes! While the dough is rising or baking, make one of these inspired challah covers or try out a “Silly Challah Recipe” Mad Libs-style activity.
    3. Celebrate Chanukah in July: These summer corn and zucchini latkes from The Nosher use the freshest summer produce, and they’re inspiring us to celebrate Chanukah in July! Enjoy latkes, read your PJ Library Chanukah books, play dreidel, and more!
    4. Enjoy an Outdoor Concert: Washington Parent has rounded up an impressive list of outdoor concerts all around our area, many of which are free! Expose your children to new music in an outdoor setting (where it won’t matter if they don’t wish to stay seated).
    5. Do a Mitzvah (good deed) Project for Kids to Help Kids: The Edlavitch DCJCC and Pozez JCC of Northern Virginia are collecting new school supplies to share with students for the upcoming school year. The Bender JCC is collecting formula and baby wipes to support DC Diaper Bank. Learn more about each option on the JCCs’ websites.

Family Fun Roundup #23: Summertime, and the livin’ is easy (June 2022)

We’re singing out loud because school’s out for summer, or it’s about to be! We have rounded up some great ideas for you to celebrate the season as a family:

    1. But oh…oh those summer nights: See a feature film under the stars at one of these outdoor movies on the grass or at a drive-in.
    2. A duck walked up to a lemonade stand: Whether you make it from fresh lemons or a bottle, pink lemonade sheet cake screams summer.
    3. And I know it’s gonna be / A lovely day: Juneteenth is this weekend, commemorating the end of slavery in America and the newest Federal holiday (observed on Monday). Learn about the history of this holiday and modern ways to celebrate with your family, including local events, red soda water, freedom songs, and book ideas. You can join Washington Hebrew Congregation on Friday for a Juneteenth Shabbat, too.
    4. Summer, summer, summertime / Time to kick back and unwind: The Washington Nationals are the “Team that Reads” and want you to be part of the lineup! Join them for Summer Reading Sundays with story times led by Nats players, and sign your kids up for the Summer Reading program to have them earn baseball tickets while crossing off their summer reading lists. Need more encouragement? Here are six summer reading tips from PJ Library!
    5. While we devotin’ / Full time to floatin’: Keep your cool at one of these eight water park options in Virginia and Maryland. In DC, use this interactive map to find a local splash pad to cool off!
    6. I wanna soak up the sun: If your child is heading to sleepaway camp for the first time this summer, take a lesson from veteran parents and camp counselors on the eight must-pack camp items. Get ready for a summer at camp with these 10 PJ Library books about camp or this Mad Libs-style “Silly Summer Camp Packing List.”
    7. Gonna be a pie from heaven above / Gonna be filled with strawberry love: Strawberries, cherries, peaches, and blackberries are in season or will be soon! You can pick fruit, vegetables, and even flowers at one of these local farms and then make pie, cobblers, or shakes, or just eat them as-is!

You can always keep up with the latest PJ Library co-sponsored programs on the Jconnect calendar or Facebook.


Family Fun Roundup #22: Celebrate Lag B’Omer and Shavuot! (May 2022)

As we move from Passover — when we remembered a time of slavery — toward Shavuot — when we celebrate liberation and autonomy, Jews mark the 49 days, or seven weeks, between the two holidays in a ritual of counting the Omer. (Shavuot means “weeks,” and the Omer refers to a sheaf of barley brought to the Temple as an offering.) On Shavuot, which starts on Saturday, June 4th at sundown, we celebrate both the receiving of the Torah (the law of God and the first five books of the Hebrew Bible) at Mount Sinai and the first fruits of the late spring harvest.

On Wednesday at sundown, we will celebrate Lag B’Omer, the 33rd day of the Omer, a pause in the middle of counting the Omer that can be celebrated with bonfires, archery, hikes, and even getting a haircut.

We have rounded up some great ideas for you to share these holidays as a family:

    1. Celebrate Together: From ice cream socials to bonfires to sleepovers, you can celebrate as a family or at one of these fun community events!
    2. Cook Together: On Lag B’Omer, cook your meal over a campfire; try hot dogs, roasted potatoes (wrapped in foil and tucked into the coals), or s’mores! It’s traditional to enjoy dairy foods on Shavuot (find out why), so why not make cheesecake, butter, or ice cream? Find a recipe and get inspired by this video of a three-year-old making cheesecake by himself!
    3. Read Together: Staying up all night to study Torah (Tikkun Leil Shavuot) — particularly the Book of Ruth — is a Shavuot tradition. For younger kids, give them permission to stay up reading as late as they can — no screens, just piles of books to read with you or to themselves. Even older children benefit from being read to by an adult, so include some read-aloud time in your side-by-side reading time. Find a PJ Library book about Shavuot.
    4. Grow Together: Wheat was one of the items harvested and brought to the Temple (Chag ha-Katzir: Harvest Festival of Reaping). Honor this idea by growing wheatgrass at home.
    5. Reap Together: Shavuot celebrates the first fruits of the season (Yom Habikkurim: Festival of the First Fruits), which were historically brought to the Temple in Jerusalem. In modern times, you can honor this tradition by picking your own fruits at one of these local farms.
    6. Hike Together: Connect Shavuot to Moses hiking up Mount Sinai to receive the Torah by taking a family hike. And join our mishlachat (educational emissaries from Israel) on an Israeli-style family hike on June 12th! (Details forthcoming.)
    7. Create Together: Invoke the legend that Mount Sinai burst into bloom when Moses received the Ten Commandments by making flower crowns. Or learn an Eastern European tradition (shared with our seven-year old readers in The Art Lesson by Allison and Wayne Marks this month!) of papercut decorations.

Learn more about Lag B’Omer on the PJ Library Holiday Hub.

Learn more about Shavuot on the PJ Library Holiday Hub.

Want to share this holiday with grandparents? Get ideas for socially-distanced or long-distance celebrations on our PJ Grandparents Shavuot Resource page!


Family Fun Roundup #21: Celebrate Passover! (April 2022)

Passover starts on Friday, and we are both excited to start celebrating and worrying about getting everything ready for the seder (Passover meal). How about you? To help you with your Passover preparations and traditions, we’ve rounded up some great programs, resources, and tips!

    1. Join a Family-Friendly Passover Event: From playground play dates to community seders, there’s something for everyone on our list of Passover celebrations. The Passover Scavenger Hunt has begun, but you can complete the missions until the 26th. Sign up to join the friendly competition on the Goose Chase app!
    2. Let All Who Are Hungry Come and Eat: There’s a line in the Haggadah (the seder guidebook) that says, “let all who are hungry come and eat.” It’s used to welcome guests, including strangers, to your table, and many Jewish families also use it as inspiration to give back around the holiday. During Federation’s Sara and Samuel J. Lessans Good Deeds Week last week, over 1,100 volunteers donated time and resources to address food insecurity. If you’d still like to get involved, find a collection drive.
    3. Incorporate a New Passover Ritual: Passover may be the most celebrated holiday among Jews around the world, but how it’s celebrated varies from country to country. Use this opportunity to learn about the diversity of Passover celebrations! For example, Moroccan Jews have an end-of-Passover custom called Mimouna, and there are a variety of recipes for charoset (a fruit mixture used in the seder) which reflect what is native and available in the spring in the countries where Jews live.
    4. Sharing with Grandparents: We sent ideas to our PJ Grandparents about celebrating Passover with their grandchildren. You can check out the multi-generational ideas, too! If your child’s grandparents would like to receive this kind of information directly, sign them up for their own PJ books or send me their email address!
    5. Celebrating Passover (Beyond the Seder): Need ideas for lunches, movies, activities and books all week long? Check out our PJ Blog post! We are also looking for families to join in the fun as we count the the days between Passover and Shavuot! Starting the second day of Passover, Jews count the 49 days (7 weeks) until Shavuot (the feast of weeks, celebrating the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai), which is called “Counting the Omer.” Choose a number to help count the Omer!
    6. For More, Visit the PJ Library Passover Holiday Hub: Find the PJ Library Haggadah in multiple languages, book lists, games, lunch tips, preparation ideas (including a pre-seder checklist!), and more!

Passover begins at sundown on Friday, April 15th.

Federation and our global partners — JDC, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and World ORT — have worked in Ukraine for decades. Together with donors to our Annual Campaign, we have built the infrastructure of a vibrant Jewish community — and to respond urgently to the horrors of war. Now, we must act swiftly to support Ukraine’s 200,000 Jews. Thousands are trapped in conflict zones in the east and thousands more have fled the fighting. We must act now to meet crucial humanitarian and communal needs in Ukraine. Contribute to Federation’s Ukraine Emergency Fund


Family Fun Roundup #20: Do Not Pass-Over Federation’s Family Fun Roundup! (March 2022)

Welcoming spring, Good Deeds Week, and Passover! The world is opening back up and blooming, which makes this a great time to get outside and practice hakarat hatov (recognizing the good)!

      1. Celebrate Spring: The DC area does spring better than anywhere, and nothing says “spring” like the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin. The peak bloom is happening now, but there are events and blossoms happening all over. Beltway Bambinos has compiled the best list of activities and insider tips, including places away from the Mall, to have a picnic or take your annual spring family photo.
      2. Celebrate Volunteering: We know many families volunteer and donate all year long (and we thank you for that!), but there is power in a collective effort to practice tikkun olam (repairing the world), during a week of mitzvot (good deeds). Join The Jewish Federation and 60+ partners for the Sara & Samuel J. Lessans Good Deeds Week, from April 3rd – 10th, to support individuals and families in our region who are experiencing food insecurity. Together, we will fill the shelves of local food pantries, feed those who are hungry, and make a difference all week long. Find a volunteer project.
      3. Celebrate Women’s History Month: Celebrate history by looking to the future! For the next few days, you can still check out the largest collection of statues of women ever assembled at the Smithsonian Arts + Industries Building’s FUTURES exhibition of #IfThenSheCan – The Exhibit. These bright orange sculptures are great for inspiration, photos, and conversations. Can’t make it down to the Mall by the 27th? Check out the resources and book ideas from A Mighty Girl.
      4. Celebrate Passover: Speaking of spring, Chag HaAviv (the spring holiday, another name for Passover) is coming up on April 15th. As you get ready to celebrate this festival of freedom, we have events, recipes, activity kits, ideas, and more to help your holiday bloom. Start your celebration with a mitzvah by signing up to send a Passover card to Jewish veterans!
      5. Celebrate New Books: Did you know that 70% of PJ Library’s lineup of books are new each year? PJ has been actively soliciting stories that show a broader range of Jewish culture and practice and is often a springboard for new authors. Check out the Sydney Taylor Award-winning book, The Passover Guest by local author Susan Kusel — it’s set in DC! Or learn more about Mimouna, a Moroccan post-Passover tradition, in A Sweet Meeting On Mimouna Night by Allison Ofanansky, or Sephardic Jews in Spain in Raquela’s Seder by Joel Edward Stein.

Federation and our global partners — JDC, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and World ORT — have worked in Ukraine for decades. Together with donors to our Annual Campaign, we have built the infrastructure of a vibrant Jewish community — and to respond urgently to the horrors of war. Now, we must act swiftly to support Ukraine’s 200,000 Jews. Thousands are trapped in conflict zones in the east and thousands more have fled the fighting. We must act now to meet crucial humanitarian and communal needs in Ukraine. Contribute to Federation’s Ukraine Emergency Fund


Family Fun Roundup #19: February Edition (February 2022)

There’s much to love and learn this month!

      1. Share the Love of PJ Library: The PJ Library Refer-a-Friend campaign continues through the end of the month! If you are part of PJ Our Way or PJ Library, you should have received a unique code by email to encourage friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors to sign up for their own library of Jewish books. You’ll get rewarded with a gift card, and they’ll get the gift of PJ Library! If you haven’t received your code, please reach out to [email protected]
      2. Celebrate Black History Month: There are many ways to celebrate and experience Black History Month locally, and you can enhance the educational experience by reading one of the many historical picture books we’ve curated on our Pinterest board. If you want help narrowing down the ideas for your family, please be in touch at [email protected].
      3. Learn More About Judaism: If PJ Library has inspired you to learn more about Judaism, we have plenty of options to connect to a “Judaism 101” class online or in-person. Check out the Adult Education page on Jconnect to learn more!
      4. Head Outdoors for a Nature Walk: Join Growing Jewish Families for nature walks in Arlington or Chantilly on during upcoming Sundays this month. You’ll get to connect with other families while communing with nature.
      5. March Forth to Book Week: Join us for Book Week with Washington Hebrew Congregation the first week of March. There’s a playground story time in DC on Tuesday, March 1st or a book swap and celebration on Friday, March 4th in Potomac. You can sign up for both!
      6. Get Ready for Purim: The joyous holiday of Purim, characterized by costumes, feasting, reading the megillah (the scroll with the story of Esther), hamantaschen (triangular filled cookies), and more, is coming up next month. Get ideas for costumes, mishloach manot (small gifts of food to friends), and celebrations on our Purim page.

And save the date for Purim Grandfriend on March 8th. Invite your child’s grandparents and register by February 28th to receive art materials in the mail!


Family Fun Roundup #18: Snow Problem to Stay Indoors (January 2022)

With the cold weather and renewed pandemic restrictions, it feels like we are back to hibernating. If staying isolated feels un-bear-able, try out these cool ideas!

      1. Connect with Other Families: Check out the JFamily Ambassador program near you to meet with a local parent connector, learn more about our community, and make new friends with young kids who live near you!*
      2. Get Creative: Try a new creative wintry project from The Artful Parent, or flannel tie blankets, or this in-person Big Messy Art program taught by PJ mom Lilach Cohen-Holden. Want a virtual option? Try Growing Grasshoppers!
      3. Celebrate Lunar New Year: The Jewish calendar revolves around the moon, but it’s not the only one. Celebrate Lunar New Year by learning more about the holiday (which falls on February 1st this year), eating Chinese food (it’s not just for Christmas!), and enjoying one of these PJ Library books featuring Chinese families: Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup by Pamela Mayer and Shanghai Sukkah by Heidi Smith Hyde; or this one, which features a child adopted from Vietnam: Rebecca’s Journey Home by Pamela Ehrenberg
      4. Get Ready for the Winter Olympics: Speaking of China, the Winter Olympics kick off in Beijing on Friday, February 4th. Our family used the Summer Olympics to take a culinary tour of the world, trying or making foods from Brazil, China, India, Israel, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We will do the same this year, trying a new country each night while we root for the athletes. Check out more ideas to get into the Olympic spirit.
      5. Get Cozy with a Family Movie Night: While your kids may not want to watch or sing anything but Encanto on repeat (who can blame them?!), there are other great new movies and classics to enjoy. While you set up a “concession stand” with drinks, popcorn, and candy, the kids can set up the seating with pillows and blankets! You can also try a themed movie night to match the food with the movie!

*And if this sounds like something you’d like to do and get paid for, check out the JFamily Ambassador job openings in DC and Virginia!


Family Fun Roundup #17: Winter is Coming (December 2021)

Chanukah may be over, but the wintry fun continues!

1) Making a Play Date at the Theater: There are Chanukah plays at The Puppet Co. and at Adventure Theater in Glen Echo Park through the end of the month. Or, you can join PJ Library families at Corduroy (based on the beloved book series) at Imagination Stage on Wednesday, December 29th at 11:00 AM.  Use the code JFAMILY for a $2 discount per ticket!

(Social distancing and covid protocols are in place for all locations. See their websites for details.)

2) Carrying the Story of Chanukah through the Month: There’s a season of service and celebration that can be kindled by the Festival of Lights, even after the eight days and nights! Consider these lingering lessons from Chanukah, inspired by PJ Library books.

3) Doing Good as a Family: PJ Library kids will receive a Mitzvah Pack in the mail this month. We hope it inspires some amazing acts of kindness—please let us know about them! Volunteering and mitzvot (good deeds) are great ideas for any age, any time of year. You can collect new winter items to give to those experiencing homelessness, make soup for a neighbor who is under the weather, feed the birds that don’t fly south, and much more. Get inspired and find local volunteer opportunities.

4) Supporting our Interfaith Families:We know many of our families come from multifaith backgrounds. To help navigate what can be a tricky time of year, we want to share the resources from 18Doors (formerly InterfaithFamily) to help with conversations and celebrations. You can also reach out to me for advice as I am from an interfaith family!

5) Having Snow Much Fun: It might be wishful thinking that we’ll have snow in December, but just in case, bookmark our Snow Day Activities Pinterest board for ideas to take full advantage of wintery fun!


Family Fun Roundup #16: Shedding Light on Chanukah (November 2021)

Adding light at the darkest time of the year sends a powerful message to our children. It tells them that they have the power—and the responsibility—to be a spark that brightens the world. As we gather around the chanukiyah (the nine-branched candelabrum used for Chanukah) and add one more candle each night for eight nights, let’s remember that the shamash (the “helper” candle) is what makes it possible. Have a conversation with your children about how they can be the shamash, and add more light to the world.

1) Family-Friendly Chanukah Events: Join us for a Chanukah celebration with grandfriends, community candle lightings, storytimes, a Minecraft Chanukah experience, a puppet show, or a Chanukah Shabbat. Find the perfect celebration to share with your family on Federation’s Jconnect.

2) Eight Values of ChanukahThese eight values are derived from the story of Chanukah with pieces for learning, asking, doing, and reading.

3) PJ Library Chanukah Hub: Find all that you need including recipes, theme nights, book lists, and more.

4) Tips for Connecting with Extended Family Around Chanukah: Find ideas to celebrate the Festival of Lights with grandparents and extended family, no matter where they live.

5) Sharing the Light During Chanukah: Practice tikkun olam (repairing the world) with these at-home, values-based activities

6) Gobble Tov! Thanksgivukkah Family Ideas: Thanksgiving and Chanukah fall on the same weekend—though not on the same day!—this year. Find craft ideas and learn how to bring the Jewish values of hakarat hatov (recognizing the good) and shalom bayit (peace in the home) into your family celebrations.

Chanukah begins at sundown on Sunday, November 28th, and ends at sundown on Sunday, December 5th.

You can always keep up with the latest PJ Library co-sponsored programs on the Jconnect calendar or Facebook.

Chag Urim Sameach (Happy Festival of Lights)!


Family Fun Roundup #15: Falling for Autumn (October 2021)

It’s a great month for getting outside and celebrating the change in season!

1) Walk and Talk: Take advantage of the cooler weather and get outside with your kids. Notice changes that are happening in nature, from the leaves to what time the sun goes down. For younger kids, point them out and narrate it. For older kids, each of you should share what you’re seeing. Bonus: it can be a great opportunity for deeper conversations about school, home, or any other topic with your kids since there aren’t other distractions.

2) Make and Bake: Our new fall family tradition is to make these Apple Cider Donut Muffins that evoke a trip to the pumpkin patch and can be made by or with your children. We have also discovered Chocolate Chunk Marshmallow Cookies, which made each of us ask the question, “why didn’t we think of this before?” Bonus: these options are great to share with friends and neighbors!

3) Listen and Learn: From Jewish artists to songs about gratitude to new family storytelling podcasts, PJ Library Listen is a great companion for long car rides to the orchard or to visit family.

4) Care and Share: Want to set an example for your children while helping a good cause? Volunteer as a family! There are many options that can be done at home or in the community. And if you need assistance, please reach out to our 703-J-CARING warm line.

5) S’mores and More: Need more ideas? The Beltway Bambinos Fall Bucket List has even more local family-friendly ideas!


Family Fun Roundup #14: Sukkot Edition (September 2021)

Sukkot (soo-COAT, a harvest festival whose name means “small huts”) starts on Monday, and we are kicking off our celebration with a veritable cornucopia of events and ideas!

1) Celebrate Sukkot or Simchat Torah (“rejoicing in the Torah”) as a Community
We have some amazing events that celebrate the season through learning and hands-on activities!

Young Families Pre-Sukkot Play Date: Sunday, September 19th | 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM (VA)

Sukkah City x DC Community Day : Sunday, September 19th | 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM (DC)

Sukkah Hop with the Pozez JCC: Monday, September 20th – Monday, September 27th (VA)

Sukkot/Simchat Torah – Family Learning and Celebration with Machar: Sunday, September 26th | 11:00 AM (DC)

Pick with PJ: Sunday, September 26th | 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM (VA and MD)

2) Download PJ Library’s Family Guide for Sukkot and Simchat Torah
PJ Library has created a book that will guide you through how to shake the lulav (a bundle specific plants) and the etrog (a citron-type fruit) of in the sukkah (the temporary hut built for the holiday), what the blessings are, how to celebrate Simchat Torah, and more!

3) Have a Joyful Sukkot—Even If You Can’t Have a Sukkah

4) Get Pin-spired with Even More Ideas
We are curating ideas for sukkah decoration, Simchat Torah snacks, book lists, and more on our holiday Pinterest board!

If you’d like more ideas, please be in touch—we are here to help you have a meaningful and joyous Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah.


Family Fun Roundup #13: Celebrate the Jewish Fall Holidays (August 2021)

It’s time for a fresh start and a new year! As we begin the new school year and the unofficial end of summer, we also welcome the Jewish year 5782 on Monday, September 6th at sundown. We will turn the page on the calendar and turn inward to reflect on ourselves, while sharing the experience as a community.

Our holidays are rich with many wonderful traditions, and our community continues to creatively adapt them to help families celebrate safely, meaningfully, and joyfully.

1)Family-Friendly Holiday Programs: Find a scavenger hunt, celebration, apple picking, or a religious service that’s perfect with kids. Check it out!

2) A Time to Grow: A PJ Library Family Guide to the Fall Holidays: This beautiful new PJ Library guide explores ways for your family to celebrate the Jewish fall holidays at home.

3) Holiday Ideas: Find ideas for crafts, books, music, and more.

4) A Very Israeli Rosh HashanahCook with Federation for Rosh Hashanah on Wednesday, September 1st at 8PM ET with James Beard Foundation award-winning chef Michael Solomonov, and New York Times Best-Selling cookbook author, Adeena Sussman! They’ll demonstrate how to cook the perfect Rosh Hashanah meal, just in time for the holiday—and we’ll share the recipes too!

5) Rosh Hashanah Recipes: Apples, honey, and round challah are just the beginning: There are many other symbolic foods for Rosh Hashanah! Find a recipe for your family.


Family Fun Roundup #12: Sharing the Love This Summer (July 2021)

This July is filled with love and sweetness, with Tu B’Av (the Jewish holiday of love), the Sweet Summer Series, and the Summer Olympics. We’ve got the scoop on summer fun!

1) Share the Love: Tu B’Av (the 15th of the Hebrew month of Av) is celebrated as the Jewish holiday of love; this year it starts on Friday, July 23rd at sundown. You can celebrate it at home by making cards for family members and friends, making a sweet treat, or instituting a “yes day” for the family. It occurs six days after Tisha B’Av, the Jewish day of mourning—an interesting juxtaposition explored in this blog post: Mourning and Loving in the Same Month.

2) Share the Sweetness: Join PJ Library and our partners for playtime and popsicles at your local playground! Check the Sweet Summer Series schedule for a playdate near you. Invite your child’s “grandfriends” to join them to make ice cream for our virtual offering on Monday, August 2nd.

3) Share the Spirit: The Summer Olympics start Friday, July 23rd and go through Sunday, August 8th. Root for your favorite athletes with these Olympics-themed craft, game, and food ideas on our Pinterest board. If your kids get inspired, there’s a ton of ideas for active play, too!

4) Share the Music: Sing and dance with the JFamily Ambassadors and PJ Library at the amazing Joanie Leeds concert on Tuesday, July 27th at 11:00 AM! Meet up with other families after the show. Buy tickets from Wolf Trap and use code PJJCC to receive $5 off orchestra seats.

You can always keep up with the latest PJ Library co-sponsored programs on the Jconnect calendar or Facebook.


Family Fun Roundup #11: Summer Fun Edition (June 2021)

As the school year winds down this month—and it’s hard to believe it’s only been 10 months since September—we have cool ideas for a hot time in the city!

1) Getting Ready for Summer: PJ Library has great tips for making the most of the season.

2) How Sweet It Is: Join PJ Library and our partners for playtime and popsicles at your local playground! Check the Sweet Summer Series schedule for one near you! Not ready for gathering outside yet? We will also have an online option!

3) The Truck Stops Here: All those online order delivery boxes can be recycled…or they can be repurposed into vehicles that can help your child’s imagination go on a journey! Sign up for the J Pop-Ups Truck Day Challenge to create your own vehicle out of recycled and found objects. Then submit a picture of your vehicle to be eligible for a prize drawing.

4) Ice Cream, You Scream: Beltway Bambinos has rounded up the best-of-the-best ice cream shops in our area. Which have you tried? Which would you add to the list?

5) Jewish Parenting 101: We are delighted to share an essay from local PJ Library parent and author, Marion Haberman, from her new book, Expecting Jewish.

Don’t forget that our #MitzvahMonday posts go live on Facebook each week—the Jewish values and social action ideas can take you through the whole summer. Get the archive on Jconnect.


Family Fun Roundup #10: Celebrating Shavuot (May 2021)

On Shavuot (the “Feast of Weeks”), we celebrate the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai and the first fruits of the late spring harvest. It is a holiday about food, setting up rules to live by, and reading—it is perfect for celebrating with kids! We do this with dairy foods, all-night reading sessions, family hikes, and wearing flower crowns. For this month’s Family Fun Roundup, we have easy, local ideas for celebrating the holiday with your family.

Here are some Shavuot traditions and ways you can make them your own:

Yom Habikkurim (Festival of the First Fruits): Another name for Shavuot speaks to it being a harvest holiday where Jews would bring the first fruits of the harvest to the Temple in Jerusalem. Celebrate our local harvest with one of these pick-your-own farms that have strawberries, flowers, and fresh produce.

Chag ha-Katzir (Harvest Festival of Reaping): Wheat was one of the items harvested and brought to the Temple. You can celebrate this by buying or making challah with your children. Shannon Sarna, author of Modern Jewish Baker, has some challah hacks for busy parents. Pair the challah with butter in a jar, to combine the wheat with dairy.

Receiving the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai: Moses received the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. Make your own set of ten family rules with input from each member of your household. You can also make Mount Sinai crafts to help your children remember the history of the holiday.

Flower Crowns: Legend has it that when Moses received the Torah, the barren hills of Mount Sinai burst into bloom. Celebrate with picking flowers, making paper flowers, and making flower crowns.

Tikkun Leil Shavuot (the practice of studying Torah all night long):  Reading Torah, especially the Book of Ruth, all night is one way to celebrate. Have an “all-nighter” by letting your kids stay up late reading, with no need to hide with a book and flashlight under the covers! Find a PJ Library book about Shavuot to add to the stack.

Eating Dairy Foods: There are many reasons given for eating dairy foods on Shavuot, but your kids probably do not need the excuse. Try an ice cream sundae bar to go with your reading all-nighter, or make some of these cool treats (dairy and dairy-free options). Kids love shaking up butter in a jar, too (and it goes great with the challah)!

Take a Hike: Emulate the Israelites and take a hike outside. Check out these kid-friendly local destinations.

Learn more about Shavuot on the PJ Library Holiday Hub.

Want to share this holiday with grandparents? Get ideas for socially-distanced or long-distance celebrations on our PJ Grandparents Shavuot Resource page!


Family Fun Roundup #9: Celebrating Spring (April 2021)

Not sure there is any place that does spring better than our area—the blooms and feelings of renewal are everywhere! Here are some ideas to help you plan for some spring family fun (allergy meds not included).

1) Count the Omer with Us: Each year, Jews count the 49 days (7 weeks) between Passover and Shavuot (which means “weeks,” and it starts on Sunday, May 16th this year). We are counting toward a celebration of receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai after escaping Egypt. Each day, our community is posting a number to keep count. So far, families have created numbers out of shoes, spoons, pasta, and macaroons. Claim your own number and create it with your family to share!

2) Lag B’Omer (33rd Day of the Omer): In the middle of the Omer, the 33rd day is celebrated with bonfires, outdoor hikes, and more. Celebrate Lag B’Omer at home on Thursday, April 29th with these ideas, including five s’mores recipes and a make-at-home Omer counter.

3) Spring Bucket List: Beltway Bambinos has updated their seasonal bucket list with new ideas for this year. Want to bloom and glow? Check out their list.

4) Ode to Spring: The cherry blossoms by the Tidal Basin were a gift from Japan. A haiku, or hokku, is a traditional Japanese three-line poem that follows a 5-7-5 syllable structure. Why not encourage your family to write one as an ode to your favorite parts of this season? You can also illustrate it with photos or drawings. We would love to see your family’s creativity!


Roundup #8: Celebrating Passover (March 2021)

For thousands of years, we have honored the traditions of the seder (the Passover ritual meal), telling the story, and passing it on to the next generation. This year, despite all the challenges, we will do the same. Celebrating Passover is a way of standing up (or reclining on cushions as we do during the seder) and saying, “Hineni, I am [still] here.”

To help you with your Passover preparations and traditions, we’ve rounded up some great programs, resources, and tips!

Join a Family-Friendly Passover Event
From author events to cooking classes, from grandparent programs to movie nights, there’s something for everyone on our list of Passover celebrations.

Learn from the Past
Check out the lessons learned from the previous year that can apply to our second “Pandemic Passover” and other holiday celebrations in this month’s issue of Washington Parent.

Share Passover Stories

Cook Together
Kids can help make charoset (the ceremonial food eaten at the seder made from sweet fruit), matzah balls, mina (Sephardic pie), and other recipes, even from a young age. Find a new family favorite on Federation’s Jewish Food Experience.

Visit the PJ Library Passover Holiday Hub
Find the PJ Library Haggadah in multiple languages, book lists, games, lunch tips, preparation ideas (including a pre-seder checklist!), and more!

Check Out Our Passover Ideas Pinterest Board
Need more reading, recipe, or wardrobe ideas? Look on our Pinterest page!

Passover begins at sundown on Saturday, March 27.


Roundup #7: Celebrating Purim (February 2021)

I recently posited that we’ve done nothing BUT celebrate Purim since the pandemic started (read why on our “Here’s the Story” blog). If you want to celebrate Purim for real this year, we have a whole lot of options to wear your masks, eat some hamantaschen, and party with your family.

Join a Family-Friendly Purim Event
Grab your mask and join a virtual or socially-distant outdoor Purim celebration, or order a BimBam kit to celebrate at home. Want the experience of a carnival of Purim games at home? Check out our community-wide Purim Carnivirtual on Sunday, February 21 at 4:30 PM. (Early bird discount ends Tuesday!)

Share Purim Stories

Make Hamantaschen
These triangular filled cookies are a Purim staple. You can buy them at a local bakery or make your own at home with this easy recipe.

Get Your Costume On
It’s said that we dress up on Purim because God’s role in the story is masked, or because Esther initially hid her identity as a Jew. Have fun by dressing up as a character from the Purim story, as a hero, or as a favorite storybook character. Here are some ideas that won’t take long to throw together!

Participate in Matanot L’evyonim (Gifts to Those in Need)
Giving to help those experiencing poverty is a mitzvah (good deed) during Purim and year-round. If you’d like to contribute time, talent, or treasure, check out great ideas for doing good on Federation’s Jconnect.

Visit the PJ Library Purim Holiday Hub
Find recipes, costume ideas, book lists, and more.

Check Out Our Purim Ideas Pinterest Board
Need more reading, recipe, or wardrobe ideas? Look on our Pinterest page!

Purim begins at sundown on Thursday, February 25.

 


Roundup #6: Pajamuary, MLK, and the Trees’ Birthday (January 2021)

1) Honor the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King: This week, you can teach your kids to follow Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s example with these books and hands-on activities.

2) Celebrate the Birthday of the Trees: Tu B’Shevat is a holiday that marks the season when trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep to begin a new fruit-bearing cycle. It begins on Wednesday, January 27 at sundown. Find at-home ideas, recipes, and books on the PJ Library Holiday Hub, and join us for one of these programs:

      • Tu B’Shevat Grandfriend program, Tuesday, January 26, 4:30 PM
        PJ Library kids and their “grandfriends” can join us for a multi-generational event to share stories, create a watercolor collage artwork, and celebrate togetherness. Register by January 19 to receive free art materials for the program. (Best for ages 3-7)
      • PJ Our Way Tu B’Shevat Seder, Wednesday, January 27, 5:15 PM
        Join PJOW and Capital Camps for a mini-seder and to play games and celebrate the birthday of the trees together. (Best for ages 8-11)

3) Celebrate “Pajamuary”: We declare January to be “Pajamuary!” Find a local place to donate pajamas, and then join us for a weekend full of activities. (Best for ages 1-6):

4) Engage, Educate & Elevate: Tips for Engaging Kids During the Pandemic: Join Federation and local early childhood education experts, Ora Cohen Rosenfeld and Miryam Buchler, on Tuesday, February 9, 7:30 PM, for an engaging seminar about creating a positive learning environment for your preschooler during these challenging times. Bring your questions, learn about local preschool, and connect with other preschool families.

5) Let It Snow: In case you need it, bookmark our Snow Day Activities Pinterest board. Our favorite ideas include hot chocolate bombs, LEGO prompts, indoor games, and snow art!


Roundup #5: Sharing Stories & Celebrating Seasons (November 2020)

1) Gratitude and Giving: Over the next two months, our programs and resources will have a meaningful theme of Hakarat HaTov (recognizing the good), providing avenues and education to focus on how to share gratitude and give back. Check out our blog post and our resource page, and consider one of these upcoming options:

2) Tips for Staying Active: With the daylight hours becoming shorter and the weather turning colder, many families are worried about getting enough time for active play outside. Kids are resilient—with the right clothing and the right attitude, you can still enjoy outdoor family time. Here are some ideas and tips:

      • Layer up—wearing thin layers helps keep your family members warm and can be taken off as the body warms up during outdoor activity. Gloves and hats help a lot. (Here’s how not to lose the gloves!)
        • BONUS IDEA: If you have winter clothing that your child has outgrown or have a need for winter clothing for your child, consider connecting to Yad Yehuda’s Clothing Exchange.
      • Go for a nighttime walk, with a flashlight, glowsticks, or a homemade lantern.
      • Go “plogging” (where you pick up trash with gloves while you walk or jog).
      • Take a camera on your daytime walk. Document the change in seasons through your child’s eyes and your camera lens.
      • And when the weather just won’t permit getting outside, check out these ideas from the Washington Post for indoor activities to keep kids active.

3) Make Thanksgiving Sweeter: Federation Partner Sunflower Bakery is a local non-profit that provides job training and employment in pastry arts, production baking, barista service, and front of house operations for individuals with learning differences. Their delicious holiday baked goods are now available to order. Buy your desserts for Thanksgiving while doing a mitzvah (good deed)!

4) Find a Delightful Chanukah Option: Chanukah begins the evening of Thursday, December 10. We are rounding up fun events and resources here.


Roundup #4: Sharing Stories & Celebrating Seasons (October 2020)

1) Read Stories with Grandparents: Caribu (which was created by a PJ Library parent) lets families have a video call with children’s books and activities shared on screen.  It’s a great way to have extended family share stories and stay connected. The app’s library has now expanded to include a selection of PJ Library books! Note: the free Caribu subscription includes access to 15 books, games, or activities per month

2) Hear from Two Fabled Actresses: Natalie Portman and Eva Longoria will discuss Portman’s new book, a retelling of three classic fables, and her “belief in the power of storytelling to change minds.” Join this Sixth & I virtual event on Tuesday, October 20 at 7:30 PM. Register in advance. (For adults)

3) Find a Weekly Program: Join the JCCs for one of their weekly virtual gatherings.

4) Taste the Season: In addition to the apple cider donut muffins we’ve been making, this pumpkin challah recipe is the perfect way to celebrate the season on Shabbat.

5) Bring the Beauty of Fall Indoors: While on a family walk, collect the colorful leaves that have fallen to make leaf rubbings, pressed leaves or these luminous leaf lanterns.  Get more ideas for your family walk in this PJ Library blog post, “Children and the Leaves of Autumn.”

6) Bring the Torah to Life: This week’s Torah portion is about Bereishit (“Creation”). You can honor the Jewish value of Shomrei Adamah (“partners in Creation”) by making a family commitment to caring for the earth. This could be adding more to recycling; taking a bag and gloves on a family walk to pick up trash; making reminder signs to turn off the lights and water when not in use; or other ideas you come up with as a family.

Another Torah connection: we will soon re-read the story of Noah’s Ark. Bring it to life with a trip to the National Zoo, which has timed tickets available for visitors, or one of these local farm festivals, which have animals to view, pet, or feed.

P.S. Feeling overwhelmed? Unsure about your options for support? Call 703-J-CARING: The Jewish Community Support Line (703-522-7464), to be connected with the many resources available to residents of DC, MD, and Northern VA. A partnership between The Jewish Federation and JSSA, 703-J-CARING is accessible Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM-6:00 PM, and all calls are confidential. Everyone deserves care. Your Jewish community is here for you.


Roundup #3: Get Clean and Crafty (September 2020)

1) Get a Clean Slate: The Jewish Days of Awe start with Rosh Hashanah and end with Yom Kippur (“day of atonement”), which begins tonight at sundown. We wish you all g’mar chatima tovah (“a good final sealing.”) Yom Kippur is a day of prayer and introspection to have a fresh start for a new year. Find a Yom Kippur

2) Celebrate Sukkot: Sukkot (“feast of booths”) is a harvest holiday that begins on Friday at sundown. During this holiday, we commemorate God’s sheltering our ancestors as they traveled to the Promised Land by building a sukkah (temporary hut that is open to the stars) as our “home-away-from-home.” You can also do a virtual tour of sukkot from around the world or build a virtual sukkah with this app, Celebrate the harvest by picking apples or pumpkins and join one of these Sukkot events, including our Sukkot Grandfriend cooking program on Tuesday, October 6.

3) Fall for Autumn: There are outdoor adventures to welcome the new season, from hikes to pumpkin picking. We love the Beltway Bambinos Fall Bucket List, with ideas for safe, seasonal fun.

4) Get Crafty: You can make stamped cards for any occasion using household items and some paint. We are also gushing over these adorable beaded pumpkins and corn projects that you can use to decorate your home or your sukkah. (Best for ages 3 and up)

Find even more ideas on our Sukkot and Simchat Torah Pinterest board

Shanah Tovah U’Metukah (“have a good and sweet year”)

P.S. Feeling overwhelmed? Unsure about your options for support? Call 703-J-CARING: The Jewish Community Support Line (703-522-7464), to be connected with the many resources available to residents of DC, MD, and Northern VA. A partnership between The Jewish Federation and JSSA, 703-J-CARING is accessible Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM-6:00 PM, and all calls are confidential. Everyone deserves care. Your Jewish community is here for you.


Roundup #2: Ideas to Get Through a Summer Like No Other (August 2020)

1) Make a Difference: Want to do a mitzvah (“good deed”) to help others facing hunger? Check out Federation’s Social Action Toolkit for families for a quick guide to addressing food insecurity in our area with a hands-on project.

Follow up with learning and doing the Jewish value of tikkun olam (the Jewish value of repairing the world) with these great resources (best for ages 4-12):

2) Walk and Click: Bring a camera on a family walk. Have your children take pictures of flowers or other things that look beautiful to them. Done monthly, your child can develop an appreciation for how the environment changes with the seasons. It is also fascinating to see how each person sees the same world with different eyes. Consider using the photos to make gifts such as notepads, framed prints, collages, and more. (best for ages 3–12)

3) Share PJ Story Time Videos: Get a library refresh or take a break from reading by sharing these book videos with your child. And if you liked the High Holiday-themed book you received this month, find more like it. (best for ages 0–8)

4) Create the Museum of You: The Capital Jewish Museum will guide you on a weekly journey to curate your own collection that tells your story. Watch the videos (posted weekly on Wednesdays) and view the resources to create your own museum at home! (best for ages 3–12)

5) Let Your Imagination Take Flight: The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum has videos, activities (including piloting an aircraft!), and inspiration on several science topics (Grades K-12)

Don’t forget about our last week of the Summer Sweetness events or the Summer at Home Family Fun Guide for more things to do as a family.

And to get your family ready for the High Holidays, Federation will have a month of ideas for reflection and introspection.  Follow us on Facebook to see everything for the Hebrew month of Elul.


Roundup #1: Welcome (July 2020)

1) Check out our Summer at Home Family Fun Guide for ideas and the Jewish values that inspire them.

2) Join Us for Some Summer Sweetness: We have taken the Sweet Summer Series online and focusing on the values of kindness, gratitude, and friendship. Join us with our partners on a weekday evening; find the schedule online. (Best for ages 3–7)

3) Walk with Purpose: Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt for five things you have not seen since last summer. Or find one thing for each of the five senses (touch, sight, taste, smell, and hearing). (Good for all ages)

4) Find a Local Jewish Summer Camp: Connect with virtual and outdoor options for your child (camps ages vary, from preschool–middle school). Also check out “5 Things to Consider If You’re Signing Up for Zoom Camp” on Kveller.

5) Make a Refreshing Treat: Try these key lime pie popsicles or one of these cool recipes on PJ Library. Yum! (good for all ages)