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Jewish Advice for Being at Home

March 19, 2020 | by David Kilimnick

The gyms are closed. You are at home. This is a holiday. Eat.

Coronavirus is pretty scary. What’s even scarier is having to spend so much time with the family.

Nobody has coached us on how to live in quarantine. How do we spend our time? Even more importantly, how do we spend our time with our children? What do we do?

Let’s embrace our families and make this time with the kids holy. Let’s make our time at home Jewish. That’s what Martha Stewart would say. I am here to help you with some ideas for activities.

Arts and Crafts with Your Children

Do Jewish art with the children. Jewish arts and crafts consist of making holiday objects or a Mezuzah. Those are the two options.

I understand that you missed Purim, but you can still catch Pesach. Why not make the Seder plate with the children. Be sure to have them use macaroni or other food that is not kosher for Pesach into their art, so you have an excuse to not use it on Pesach.

Doing arts and crafts with your child can be hard on a parent. Now that you made it with them, you can’t throw it out and say you lost it, like every work of art they brought home from school.

Bake a Challah

Baking Challah is a beautiful Jewish family tradition. It gets the kids involved, and it gives you a chance to yell at them. You are going to get mad. It might as well be for them not kneading fast enough. Yelling is an important Jewish experience, as it brings back memories of preparing for holidays.

Family Pictures

Use the time to connect with the past. This is a good time to connect your children with family history. Show the kids pictures of your childhood. That is educational. The grainy pictures are best. Allow your kids to see what the world looked like before HD.

Show them the pictures of religious grandparents. Even if it’s not their grandparents, as long as it’s a European looking family, that’s good enough. All old pictures from Eastern Europe look like they are of religious people.

When your kids make fun of you look now compared to back then when you were skinny and had lots of hair just remember that the Jewish day school is not refunding any of the $22,000 you spent.

Encourage Your Children to Go Online

You might as well give up. You’re not going to keep the kids away from the TV and computer for more than a week. You gave the family time speech but that was five days ago. Even you don’t have that kind of stamina for showing love. Give the children your phone and let them have the screen. There is only so much crying you can deal with.

I understand you’ve tried to keep your kids off websites, so they don’t see the shmutz. However, the day school’s new video conference program has them online regularly. The Jewish day school has now opened up your child’s eyes to a whole new world of shutting out their parents. Your child is now internet savvy and doesn’t need your help until dinner. Be thankful.

Spring Cleaning

This year, you actually have time to clean for Pesach. Passover cleaning will be done and the house will be as clean as the hotel you stayed at last Pesach.

Tell the children it’s a Mitzvah. Telling them they’re cleaning for Passover and it’s a commandment is the best way to get them involved in Spring cleaning. Tell them that they have to get rid of Chametz, and that includes raking the leaves.

Constantly Check If Your Kid is Sick

This is Pikuach Nefesh, saving a life. It’s good to spend your time with the back of your hand on their foreheads. When you see them sit, have your hand there. When they go to sleep, when they eat, when they clean, when they’re online with their virtual class, have the back of your hand there. If you don’t worry for them, who will.

Eat A Lot

The gyms are closed. This is a holiday. You’re not going to work and you’re at home. Celebrate. How do we celebrate when we can’t go to the gym? We eat.

Good Jews eat. We eat and we give the food a Yiddish sounding name, and we don’t go to the gym. Those cookies you love at now called cookelach.

Watch a Jewish Movie

That means anything with a Jew in it. In other words, any comedy.

Perfect Chance to Watch Shtisel as a Family

When you get into the family fights, put on Shtisel and your kids will appreciate being part of your family.

Torah Webinars

This is your chance to learn more Torah now than ever. Webinars are the perfect excuse for being at home and having silence.

Every Yeshiva is offering this new model of Torah study. This is the new way of learning Torah in crisis; you meet with people by not getting together. Now, when you’re learning partner sneezes, it doesn’t land on you. It lands on the screen.

Now is the greatest time to be at home. So, enjoy it. Catch up on sleep. Enjoy your family. Celebrate the children. Years from now, your family will remember all the time spent together, huddled in the home. And you will say, ‘Thank G-d there is a vaccine.’

When it’s all over, you will thank your local schools and you will stop complaining about how tuition went up.

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