Parsha for Kids – an update

Thanks for all of your suggestions. I have yet to come across a really good summary of the weekly parsha that meets the criteria I blogged about a few weeks ago. A few people suggested the archives of URJ Family Shabbat Table Talk. This site offered some interesting questions. (My question – why are the books of the Torah alphabetized rather than indexed in order??) However, most entries either did not include a summary, or included a summary pitched toward older and more knowledgeable listeners than my 5 and 7 year old children.

For now, I’ve landed on a different solution. I’m using the website Bible Gateway, which offers dozens of online translations of the Bible (Jewish and Christian.) I’m relying on the Contemporary English version, which isn’t very poetic, and probably not very scholarly, but it’s very, very accessible. For our shabbat table, I’m printing out all or part of the parsha, replacing English names with Hebrew (relying on my own memory for this), and just reading it aloud. If my kids have questions or comments, we talk about those. If not, at least they are gaining some biblical literacy. What we’ll do when we hit Leviticus, well, I’m not too sure. Even in modern English, laws about ritual purity, nocturnal emission and which dead bodies a Cohen can touch are not great table talk.
Because Bible Gateway is not a Jewish site, the texts are not indexed by parsha. A great resource for finding out where the weekly Torah portion begins and ends is the interactive calendar Hebcal. Make sure to click on “weekly sedrot” and Diaspora if you live outside of Israel.
I haven’t watched the vidoes on G-dcast with my children yet, but I’m going to try this week. Here’s this week’s offering, for your viewing pleasure. Shabbat Shalom!

Parshat Lech Lecha from

More Torah cartoons at

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posted October 15, 2010 at 7:12 am

My Hebrew school used “Torah Toons,” which were a little cheesy for us in 7th grade, but probably still accessible and fun for younger kids. Have you heard of that?

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Your Nameellen

posted October 15, 2010 at 8:25 am

aim: if you want poetry, and i know this is for grownups but i think it one of the coolest books ever, try everett fox’s Five Books of Moses.

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posted October 15, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Cool, but bizarre video! Raises lots of questions! Not sure how/if I’d use it with kids……
Shabbat shalom,

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posted October 15, 2010 at 8:07 pm

I agree that this g-dcast was bizarre. Normally I find them much more accessible and instructive for elementary aged kids.

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posted October 16, 2010 at 10:09 pm

I hadn’t watched it before I posted. I didn’t end up showing them that one.

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posted October 24, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Interesting that several did not like the G-dcast videos. We LOVE them at our house. My son, age 10, is already somewhat familiar with the basic stories (he’s read _The Kids’ Cartoon Bible_ by Chaya Burnstein [highly recommended] and _The Illustrated Jewish Bible for Children_ publ by DK), so I really appreciate that the G-dcast videos include a midrashic approach and are not merely another pedantic repetition of What Every Good Jewish Child Should Know Or Else. We have an observant home where Jewish learning is valued (along with every other kind of learning), but my son is very very skeptical, so one of my primary goals is for him to see that there are many different ways to be a “good” Jew, so the slightly funky alternative feel of G-dcast really works for us. Even if my son doubts God and feels no appreciation for ritual, from this video he saw that being true to yourself and living your beliefs (final lines in the video) is a *Jewish* value. Can’t ask for more than that!

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posted October 27, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Thrilled to see G-dcast here, thanks for the mention!
Every G-dcast episode is completely different, since the parsha episodes were written and narrated by 55 guest storytellers. So if you didn’t like this episode, which was a musical take on Lech Lecha from Sarah’s perspective, then no worries. Check out something else. You can view the website not only my parsha but also by storyteller. We feature rabbis, writers, environmentalists, musicians, and poets from across the world and the Jewish spectrum.
On important thing I want to point out. We don’t officially recommend G-dcast for elementary school kids…which is why you may be having a disconnect with your kids. We made these cartoons for kids aged 12 and up (including “kids” in their 40s who love them). While some episodes are great for a 9 year old…most aren’t. They are a bit too intellectually sophisticated and – thanks to the Torah – include references to things like sex, death and alcohol. Again, there are some exceptions to the age thing, but your mileage will vary.

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Jennifer in MamaLand

posted November 9, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Did you ever see my suggestion of The Shabbat Book that I made over at your other post?
Anyway, I linked to both of these posts in the latest Jewish Homeschooling Blog Carnival – since few subjects are as universal for Jewish homeschoolers as parsha. Maybe you’ll inspire us, or maybe one of our readers will have an amazing suggestion for you!
Check it out, and spread the news!

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