by Barbara Weill
Acknowledgement: Translation - Hannah Salm.
Theme Games for the Holiday:
- a series of transparencies representing various Jewish objects (30 minimum; 50 maximum)
- a projector for the transparencies and a screen for viewing
- about 40 cards of the same color on Bristol board; on 25 cards the word "Wall," should be written, and on five, the word, "Roof"
- scissors and tape
- pencils and felt.
Note: If you don't have transparencies or a projector, you can play the game with photos or with pictures depicting the Jewish objects.
Divide the group into teams of three to five people, and ask each one to choose for itself a name having something to do with Succot. Each team is then shown a transparency of a different religious object and must decide whether or not the object in some way relates to the holidays of Succot and Simchat Torah. If it indeed does relate, the team must explain how.
The team that gives the right answer picks a card from the deck. The team that picks three cards that say, "Wall," and one that says, "Roof," can construct a Succah (using scissors and tape). Two cards saying, "Wall," may be exchanged with another team for one saying, "Roof."
The team that builds the most Succot by the end of the game wins. When the game is over, crayons and felt are distributed so that each team can decorate its own Succot with themes relating to the holiday.
Examples of Objects Relating to Succot:
the Succah itself, the roof of the Succah, the Etrog, Lulav, myrtle, the branch of willow, a Kiddush cup, Tallit, two candles, a Sefer Torah, the Simchat Torah flag, the book of Ecclesiastes, a poster welcoming the Ushpizin. You will note that many objects linked to Shabbat are also linked to Succot, since one Shabbat is always celebrated during the holiday.
Examples of Religious Objects Bearing No Relation to Succot:
the Shofar, apple and honey, menorah, dreidl, grogger, the "ears of Haman," the Seder plate, matsah, the Book of Ruth, etc.
The Ecological Succah:
Constructing and ecologically sound Succah is a question of using recyclable materials. It is forbidden to purchase anything besides tools. For this game, the group is divided into three teams:
- One team builds the walls: They can be made of large cardboard cartons left by supermarkets, sheets of plastic, planks of wood found in lumberyards, poles that have fallen to the ground, etc.
- The second team builds the roof: The roof can be made of dead branches found in the forest, iron wire retrieved from lumberyards, greenery gathered in at the end of the selling season, etc.
- The third team concerns itself with the Succah decorations: Decorations can be made from colored paper (i.e., paper chains made into wreaths or long strings of garlands), from plastic bottles that can be painted and cut up, or from sheets of polystyrene, etc.
Garlands with a Theme:
This activity is appropriate for a community Succah. Again, the group is divided into teams, each of which makes a garland on a different theme, for example:
The group should have many different building materials at its disposal: paper, cardboard, Bristol board, crepe paper, iron wire, straws, balls made of paper, ping pong balls (that can be painted and decorated), etc.
When the garlands are finished, each team presents its own garland to the others, explaining to them its significance in terms of the holiday. All the garlands are then hung throughout the Succah.
Variation: Garlands may also be made from recycled materials as in the previous activity.
The Simhat Torah Flag:
Activity for children ages 8 to 12.
Each child makes his or her own personal Simchat Torah flag that expresses his own vision of Jewish identity. The activity takes place in two stages:
- a) the "Magen David" or star of David (as a values clarification exercise)
- b) the making of the flag itself.
A. The Magen David
This activity exemplifies well-known Jewish values. Each participant is given a piece of paper on which a Magen David is sketched in pencil. The group leader then instructs the participant to write his/her answers to the questions s/he is about to ask in the star's different triangles. In order to clarify the rules of the game, it is recommended the participant should number the triangles of the middle hexagon.
- What is your first Jewish memory?
- What was the most important Jewish event for you this past year?
- Write the name of a famous Jew with whom you identify.
- What do you consider the most important event in Jewish history?
- What is your favorite Jewish holiday?
- What would you ultimately like to do for the Jewish people in the future?
- (central point) Write a blessing that you would like to give to your friends for the coming year.
When everyone has filled in his or her Magen David, the group leader briefly compares their responses, without forgetting to stress that they are all valid, and that each has the right to write what he feels. The leader then invites the participants to make their own Simchat Torah flags, illustrating the responses they noted on their individual Maginei David.
B. The Flag
- photographs from magazines
- pictures on Jewish themes
- Bristol board
- blacklead pencils, erasers
- felt-tip pens or gouache
- sheets of transparent, adhesive plastic (to cover the flag)
- a rod (to use as a flagpole)
- material to affix the flag to the rod
Each child will make their own "Jewish identity flag" expressing the ideas from their Magen David; one can illustrate a favorite Jewish hero, a favorite holiday, etc. The children will, of course, bring their homemade flags to the synagogue on Simchat Torah. The flags can later be exhibited in the lobby of the synagogue or in display cases within the synagogue.