A Tale of Two Strudels

Dessert and Other German Adventures

Posts tagged Bambinim

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Summer Camp: Our Favorite Things

At the Bambinim Summer Camp this year, one of our themes was the creation story - we told it to the kids with the help of some beautiful illustrations several times.  It allowed us to talk with the kids about the huge variety of plants and animals that exist in the world, and more broadly about all of the things that we think are wonderful in the world.  As part of this theme, Flora taught the children a song about exactly that - it’s a song that allows kids to jump in and say what they love in the world.  It’s in German, but listen above - their little voices are very cute!

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Summer Camp is in the News!

Oh darling blog, how I’ve neglected you!

Really, it must seem like I’ve fallen off the face of the earth, but I am a procrastinator by nature, and what can I say — things just kept piling up.  But now I’m back and I’m firmly resolved to update faithfully and frequently about all of my (interesting or relevant) goings-on in Berlin.  Maybe I’ll even put together some pictures of all of the truly wonderful events and experiences I’ve missed out on writing about!  But for the moment, something truly relevant and up-to-date:

Bambinim has been running a summer camp since last week and it’s been lots of fun.  We’ve been singing and telling stories each morning and doing arts crafts activities in the afternoon, and there has been LOTS of playground time (which was fun except for the dead mouse we found in the sand…you can imagine how well that went over).

We’ve also had some press, which is great for Bambinim and was fun for the kids.  

When the journalist from the Jewish newspaper the “Jüdische Allgemeine” joined us for morning circle on our first day of camp, the kids got to ask him questions about what he does and what writing for a newspaper is like!  You can find his article, in German, (and the back of my head in the accompanying picture) here:

http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/13500

The following day, we had a journalist from Deutschlandradio Kultur (from the segment “Aus der Jüdischen Welt,” or “from the Jewish world”) come join us for the morning.  He recorded our morning circle and playground time, got some adorable clips of the kids playing and talking, and spoke to Flora and some parents about Bambinim’s place and mission in Berlin.  Like the article, the radio segment and the accompanying article are also in German, but it might be worth it for the cute children and the occasional Hebrew:

http://www.dradio.de/dkultur/sendungen/ausderjuedischenwelt/1816260/

True, these pieces are in German, but maybe they’ll give you kind of an idea of what Summer Camp at Bambinim is like until I properly write about it (soon, really!).  And if not — well, still, it’s cool that we got all that press, isn’t it?

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Two Sundays ago, Bambinim held a Purim event for families!  A show with masks in German, a puppet show in Hebrew, grogger-making with clown faces, face-painting and glitter tattoos, music, food, dancing - how could anyone fail to have fun with so many cool things going on?  For extra credit, see if you can spot my Pippi Longstocking costume in one of the pictures.  (Three children also dressed up as Pippi - I had so many twins!)

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Last Sunday, Bambinim celebrated Tu Bishvat — twice!  

Our first event that day was led in Hebrew and in conjunction with an Israeli family center in Berlin, Kumsitz.  The space was beautiful and about 40 children attended!  You can imagine the mayhem that resulted, but hopefully my pictures will also give you an idea of what beautiful activities we had that day.  First, the kids sang a few Tu Bishvat songs and heard a Tu Bishvat story, and then after a short fruit snack break, we got started on the arts and crafts.  First the kids made cookies, which we put on skewers before we baked; then they decorated flower pots; then they put a cupcake in the flowerpot, stuck their skewered cookie in the cupcake, and decorated their baked goods!  As pretty as a flower but better-tasting!  They also did a fair amount of coloring, decorated wooden tree figures, and used different kinds of fruit to make faces on oranges, kind of like Mr. Potato Head with real produce.  

A little later, the Bambinim team held a second event, this time at a different family center in East Berlin and with the (wo)man power of a few Bambinim moms, who had volunteered to help plan the event.  It was great for us to be able to engage families who live far away and for whom it is difficult to get to Bambinim with their children, and it seemed like they were about as excited to be there as we were.  This event was smaller in numbers, but not lesser in enthusiasm, and it was lovely to see how quickly a warm environment developed.  First, the kids painted flower pots, which we set to dry for later, before we moved on to a story about Tu Bishvat and then to a tree-decorating activity.  Then, we did a little bit of singing and dancing before clearing the table for our Tu Bishvat Seder.  We went through it with the children, explaining the significance of the different cups of wine/grape juice and fruits on the table.  Then, we sat down to a meal to which each family had contributed something - we had pastries, hummus, couscous salad, and more.  There were even waffles with powdered sugar for dessert!  Then, before the kids left, we took out the flower pots they had painted and repotted some pretty flowers into them for the families to take home.

Although I had a great time at both events, I was pretty Tu Bishvat’ed-out after.  I have noticed since, though, that the weather has gotten a little more pleasant and that my mind has been focused more on the coming few months, and all these little things are coming together to make it feel like spring really on its way.

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This semester at Bambinim, we have a music course for babies in Hebrew which serves a lot of families in which the babies have older siblings.  Ever eager to find solutions to potential scheduling problems such as this, Flora has suggested that we hold a parallel course which the older siblings can attend. The course is an arts and crafts course centered on Jewish themes and I am leading it!

This past week, I prepared some salt dough for us and made a pair of Shabbat candlestick holders as an example to show the children.  These were some very productive children, though, so aside from some candlestick holders, we also have little hearts, some Hamsas, a few bowls, and a few gift items with “Ima” written on them in Hebrew.  These artisanal products will spend the week drying at Bambinim so that next week we can paint them and soon after send them home.

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Two weeks ago at Shabbat Playgroup, we reopened the course after the holiday break and paid tribute to Winter through one of the season’s most delicious fruits - oranges!  Our activity for the week was based on the Israeli children’s song “Kilafti Tapuz,” sung by Arik Einstein.  In the song, the singer peels a fruit only to find a child curled up inside, sleeping, who wakes up angry about the draft coming through the hole in the peel.

After we sang the song together, the younger children decorated paper oranges while the older children used little boxes, pipe cleaners, and plastelina to make a little figure asleep in an orange.

This past week, we looked to Lecha Dodi for inspiration and talked about the Shabbat Bride who visits us every week starting on Friday evening when we sing that song.  For our art project, we decorated challah covers - perfect for the little challah that each child gets to take home after Shabbat Playgroup!

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(Birthday) Party at Bambinim!

A couple of weeks ago, I rushed straight from one of our Hanukkah events back to Bambinim, where I was helping to staff a 3 year old’s birthday party – not just any birthday party, really, but his Upsherin, or the celebration of his first haircut.  The family had asked Bambinim to come up with a program for the day, which I wrote and which a colleague of mine ended up seeing through in German, since I am just not capable of doing so.

It was a really lovely party and the family was so happy!  As people arrived, they brought presents to a very excited birthday boy.  Grandparents, cousins, friends, and about fifteen children were in attendance, and we started with some dancing and songs in Hebrew.

 

Then we took the kids to where we had set up some baking materials and some cookie cutters of Hebrew letters and my colleague Anja explained that the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, which are also the letters of the Torah, are the sweetest letters of all.  The kids rolled out dough and cut out cookies happily in a twist on the usual custom of having the three year old, about to embark on his Jewish education, feel the sweetness of the Torah by eating Hebrew words written in honey. 

 

Then Anja took the kids into the other room to tell them a story about how people are like trees, with roots that hold us down and bodies that grow and stretch up and even fruit, or what we produce.  I missed the story because I was busy putting the cookies in the oven (I burned the first batch, too, so I had to spend a few minutes making extra cookies so that everyone could have some.  Oops!) but I heard that Anja’s story and the little show she put on  for the kids were great!  Then the rabbi came and talked briefly to the children (I heard they were a rapt audience!) and then the child sat down while his parents and grandparents each snipped away at a bit of his hair.  I have to say that a surprisingly decent haircut resulted.

What should follow this, of course, but food?  And there was really so much food!  The atmosphere was really festive as well, and people were happy to just sit and eat and talk, so much so that at the end we nearly had to ask people to leave so that we could start cleaning up!  (It never came to that, luckily.)

Another cool thing happened at the birthday party – I met my first other Yahel face to face, and she was a girl too!  (Yahel is also a boy’s name, you see.)  She was probably about two years old and very mischievous and simply adorable!  I can’t believe it has taken me twenty three years to come face to face with another Yahel and I was very excited to make her acquaintance.  And imagine my surprise (and delight) when, as I was cleaning up, little Yahel picked up one of the huge brooms I had been using and started sweeping the room and “helping” me!

In short, it was really cool to help plan an event like this and see it through to the finish.  Now I must keep improving my German so that I can even lead the activities myself!

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Our third Hanukkah event was in the north part of the city and it was during Hanukkah - on Christmas day, actually!  There were many new faces, a festive atmosphere, and we got to light candles together!  It was a great way to spend Christmas/Hanukkah.

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