Sukkot is a wonderful holiday to celebrate with children because there’s a really fun built-in activity to do with them: decorate the Sukkah! And at Bambinim, we have a wonderful Sukkat. Painted by the kids last year, we decorated it anew this year with paper chains and other child-made hanging things.
We opened the activity with baking, as always. This time, I made date cookies with the kids, and if I may say so myself, they came out delicious. Recipe below. After this, we sang an introductory song and a few Sukkot songs. Then we made the above-mentioned paper chains, which we connected all together to make one big chain and carried to the Sukkah together. Razia and Ariella were up next with a song from Judy the Holiday Fairy and then with a show about Keren, who spends the money her mother gave her to buy an Etrog in order to help a baker in Jerusalem fix his oven so that he can make delicious cakes for every for the holiday. (To give away the ending, a miracle happens and Keren gets a beautiful Etrog to bring home AND cake!) At the end, Ariella/the Baker served the children cake, since the oven was fixed in the story. Then, Flora and I explained how the Lulav, Etrog, Aravah, and Hadass are like parts of the body and like our community, and we used a song to teach the kids to shake the Lulav together. After each kid got a turn, we had our usual Kiddush and lunch, again made more delicious by some parental contributions.
This time our activity ended later than usual, though: it was hard to get all those kids and all of the stuffed animals they brought with them out of our tiny Sukkah!
We also repeated this activity in Hebrew and in Russian due to popular demand — all three went great!
Date Cookies, cobbled together from various sources:
Dough: In a mixing bowl, cream together 200 grams of butter and 250 grams cream cheese. Add 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla, and mix until smooth. Add 2 cups of flour and mix lightly. Refrigerate dough for an hour or more.
Filling: Chop about 2 cups of dates and put in a small pot with water and about 1/4 cup juice (I used orange juice on Sunday, but you could also use grape juice or something else). Simmer for about an hour, until the dates are soft, and then blend with a hand blender or mash with a fork. Let cool.
Roll the dough out so that it is flat and thin, spread the date filling on one side, roll up and cut into individual cookies, and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown at 180 degrees Celsius.