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Saturday, December 27, 2014

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Parshat hashavuah: fun, games, fingernails

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If your Rosh Hashanah resolution included learning more Torah, now’s the perfect time to get started. There are many excellent websites geared to promoting regular Torah study through the weekly portion, the parshat hashavuah. [http://bit.ly/shavua1] But sometimes, you might want to take a break from the classical commentators. Or get some help teaching the parashah to your kids. Or have a bit of fun. Here’s where.

Rabbi Yael Buechler believes in keeping the weekly Torah portion at her fingertips – literally. At MidrashManicures.com, she has created art to grace her fingernails that is tied thematically to parshat hashavuah. For example, for Bereshit, her nails include the creation of light, the earth sprouting vegetation and of course, the first Shabbat. Why nails? “Re-envisioning education is what this is all about,” she told the New York Times. “If I said come to a midrash course, I’d have five or six students. But Midrash Manicures? Twenty plus.” [http://bit.ly/shavua2]

Do you think you really know the weekly portion? The folks at Joliet Jewish Congregation will keep you on their toes with a crossword puzzle for every parashah. Bonus content: there are word search puzzles and word jumbles for most Jewish holidays, too. [http://bit.ly/shavua3]

For something different, go to Torah Tidbits and click on Parsha Pix & Stats. Every week, you’ll get a screen full of cryptic pictures that relate in some way to the Torah portion. [http://bit.ly/shavua4] And for lovers of Torah and statistics, did you know that Parshat Bereshit has 146 verses? It ranks eighth in the Torah – the same as Miketz, but Miketz is longer in lines, words and letters. Now you know. [http://bit.ly/shavua5]

Why should the adults have all the fun? Chabad.org’s Parsha for Kids presents a family-oriented summary of each weekly portion, along with themed songs and videos with Muppet-like characters. [http://bit.ly/shavua6] For more for kids, check out Torah Tots’ Parsha on Parade [http://bit.ly/shavua7] and Akhlah: Torah for Children. [http://bit.ly/shavua8]

It’s quite rare that you come across a site that’s educational and mouth-watering at the same time! TorahPortions is. As Suri Rosen explains, “Torah Portions is my attempt to develop Shabbos dishes that connect to the weekly parshah reading, both literally and conceptually.”

Those connections are rarely obvious, and always witty – and  delicious. For example:

• Parshat Balak tells the famous story about the prophet Balaam, who was summoned to curse the Jewish people. Balaam’s donkey didn’t take too kindly to his master’s mission and told him so.

Suri’s culinary take: burritos, which is Spanish for “little donkey.”

• Parshat Naso tells of the nazir who takes a vow to abstain from wine and grapes and to allow the hair on his head to grow wild.

Suri’s culinary take: she pays homage to the nazir’s uncut hair, as symbolized by a plate of spaghettini.

• Parshat Trumah contains the instructions for building the portable mishkan (tabernacle), which the Israelites would carry through their wanderings in the Sinai.

Suri’s culinary take: onion rings. Huh? Onion rings are hung on skewers that are reminiscent of the rods used to transport the mishkan. [http://bit.ly/shavua9]

A great site.

(Full disclosure: I’m a friend of Suri’s husband.)

(Fuller disclosure: it’s a great site, regardless.)

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