Bible Belt Balabusta: Hands-on, Jewish Projects with Kids (for Parents and Teachers)


Souce: Bible Belt Balabusta 


Bible Belt Balabusta  is a website with a rich collection of hands-on Jewish crafts projects for parents and teachers to share with their children. Joanna Brichetto, aka the Bible Belt Balabusta, an experiential educator at West End Synagogue, a Conservative congregation in Nashville, Tenn., aims to help kids and grownups spend time together making Jewish things. She likes stuff that is hands-on, attractive, non-fussy, cheap and real, and so fun no one realizes it's educational. The value is in the doing, not just the being done, and in the conversations and questions that happen along the way.


Joanna writes on her site:

"Why make stuff with our kids?

My big thing is doing stuff with kids. Not for them, but with them. The process is the valuable part, but the product, no matter what it looks like—can be useful, too.


Making Jewish things with kids is:

  • Time spent together
  • Educational: all sorts of developing skills get a workout, no matter the materials or project
  • Educational, Jewishly: kids get a hands-on, personal reference point to a holiday, ritual object, tradition or food custom. As do you, the parent, who may be learning this stuff along with your kid
  • A way to help craft a Jewish identity, whatever that means to you

You’ll get some crafts here, yes, but they are going to be generated by your favorite kid. The value is in the doing, not the being done, and in the conversations and questions that happen along the way. Every project comes with helpful and (hopefully) pleasant chatter, because my native compulsiveness and enthusiasm means that I’ve given the meaning, function, and possible permutations a lot of thought. You won’t need to do much planning, because I’ll have done it for you."


The Balabusta's present project is "Carob for Tu B’Shevat Show and Tell". Here we get to learn about the fruit and seeds of the Carob tree, traditionally eaten as part of the Tu Bishvat celebration. While preparing our carobs, we also learn about the Midrashic Choni Ham'agel who meets a full grown carob tree seventy years after he encounters an old man sowing some carob seeds, thus learning that we plant trees for our children’s children, just as our ancestors planted trees for us. We also learn that the carob was the chief food of the mystical rabbi Shimon bar Yochai when he hid in cave from the Roman rulers of Israel.

Updated: Jan. 28, 2015