Feb 15, 2010

How to Get Moving

First Lady Michelle Obama recently made an announcement about a new campaign we can all get excited about. It's called Let's Move, and it's based on four principles: encouraging children and families to make healthier food choices, improving the quality of foods in our schools, make healthier, more affordable food available to across the nation, and educate children about the importance of physical activity.

Adults can learn a thing or two from this program as well! For me, the easiest way to eat healthier was to shop at local farmers markets during the summer and fall. I can get affordable, fresh, locally-grown produce. I'm inspired to cook new dishes and look forward to the return of my favorite fruits and vegetables that are in abundance at various times of the season.

A simple way to get kids excited about new foods is to invite them into the kitchen to cook with you! Little hands can help out with basic tasks like as kneading your challah dough for Shabbat, mixing the charoset at Passover, or picking out apples to serve at Rosh Hashanah. Kids learn how to make traditional foods and even the pickiest kids will be curious to try new dishes if they see how they're made.

Check out Matzah Meals and Tasty Bible Stories for easy, kids-friendly recipes with a Jewish twist!

That takes care of the food portion of Let's Move. The physical activity part isn't so easy!

Alef-Bet Yoga for Kids combines yoga poses with the letters of the Hebrew Alef-Bet. Kids use their imaginations and their bodies to form Hebrew letters. Alef-Bet yoga can be done indoors as well as outdoors and it doesn't require more than a book and some floor space.

Sometimes, all it takes is some music to get you moving! Rabbi Joe Black's book Boker Tov! includes a CD with his catchy tune about waking up and getting ready for the day. Perfect for slow movers, sleepyheads, and grownups on the days when coffee isn't enough.

Does your class or family practice Alef-Bet yoga? Do you have any ideas of how to integrate Let's Move into your Jewish home or classroom? Send us your photos and we'll post them on our blog and Facebook page!

Feb 11, 2010

Jewish Ties to Black History Month

February is Black History Month and we would like to highlight two unique stories that have ties to African Americans and Jewish Americans.

Carolivia Herron (author of the acclaimed Nappy Hair) based her book Always an Olivia on her unique ancestry. In the story, an elderly black grandmother passes on the story of her family's Jewish origins to her young granddaughter, Carol Olivia. As family members flee the Spanish Inquisition, are kidnapped by pirates, and eventually sail to America, one daughter in each generation is given the name Olivia, from the Hebrew Shulamit, meaning "peace," to honor the Jewish part of their ancestry.

Always an Olivia reminds us that Jewish people have a variety of backgrounds. It's a great introduction to tracing your family's lineage, or doing a classroom project on family trees and ancestry. Many times, what makes us different can actually bring us closer together.

Dr. Herron is an acclaimed storyteller, professor, and tikkun olam activist based in Washington, D.C. To learn more about Dr. Herron, including her creative process and her thoughts on being an African American Jew, here is a fascinating interview from emPOWER Magazine.

In their new book Hot Pursuit, authors Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon re-imagine the fateful car ride of three Civil Rights workers in 1964 Mississippi. Mickey Schwermer and Andrew Goodman were young Jewish men who came from New York to Mississippi during the Freedom Summer, when many organizations worked to register black voters and establish better schools during a time of segregation and inequality. There they met James Cheney, another worker. While riding together on June 21, 1964, the three men were stopped for a false traffic violation and taken to jail. They were released later that night, only to go missing before they could make it back home. Their bodies were found weeks later; they had been brutally beaten and shot.

Hot Pursuit tells an important story and reminds us of the value of tikkun olam. James, Mickey, and Andrew devoted their lives to fighting segregation and improving the lives of others. We remember them during Black History Month as we look back at how far we've come, and think about what we can do in our own communities to educate others about tolerance.

Feb 3, 2010

Sydney Taylor Book Award on Tour!

The Sydney Taylor Book Award winners are hitting the road! So to speak.

The Awards Committee has organized a blog tour for this years award winners. Check out the Association of Jewish Libraries blog for full details, but here's a shortcut to our Sydney Taylor Honor Award winners...

Jacqueline Jules, author of Benjamin and the Silver Goblet, interviewed by ASHarmony

Joni Sussman, Publisher of Kar-Ben, interviewed at The Book of Life

Deborah Bodin Cohen, author of Nachshon, Who Was Afraid to Swim, interviewed at Ima on and off the Bima (plus a giveaway!)

Jago, illustrator of Nachshon, Who Was Afraid to Swim, interviewed at Jewish Books for Children

Congratulations to all of this year's Sydney Taylor honorees! Happy reading!

Sydney Taylor Honor Award seal appears courtesy of the Association of Jewish Libraries.