Q and A with Erev!

This week our 3-5th graders are practicing their question asking in preparation for Pesach! We had them look through a section of the Hagaddahlist 3 questions, say what page of the Hagaddah their question came from, and then pass their page of questions to a friend. Then the friend looked in the Hagaddah on those pages to find an answer. Here are their questions and answers! 


Q: Why did they want to kill the first born?  

A: They killed the first born to hurt Pharaoh so he'd let the Hebrews go. 


Q: Why did the people get separated from their husbands and wives?  

A: To make them miserable, and so they couldn't have children that would overthrow Pharaoh. 


Q: Was Pharaoh afraid of the plagues?  

A: He became afraid after a while. Look at how his face changes on from page 66 to page 70. 



Q: If Pharaoh hadn't been so stubborn, could something have been worked out so the Hebrews could have stayed? 

A: They probably would have been able to stay. 

Q: What's a seraph?  

A: It looks like a kind of angel.  

Q: Why is Pharaoh's logic so off that he thought the only way to stop the Hebrews from turning against Egypt in the event of war was the enslave them?  

A: His logic is off because he is not thinking and stubborn.  

Q: Did Pharaoh have them build stuff for him because they needed it or wanted it?  

A: I honestly think he just did it to torture the Hebrews. 

Q: Why did they do the death of the first born?  

A: Probably because it got so out of hand that God had to do something horrible in the end. 

Q: Why does Pharaoh say to throw baby boys in the river and not girls?  

A: He was afraid of a Hebrew growing up and wanting to be Pharaoh. And only boys could do that job.  

Q: Why did Pharaoh sit in his throne during all the plagues?  

A: I think because he really didn't care until the Death of the Firstborn. 

Q: Why didn't the Egyptians stop the plagues?  

A: First they can't do anything because God is making them and second they don't know when they will come anyway. 

Q: How do people come up with what the verses mean?  

A: They practiced with their teachers. 



Q: Does God truly have arms, limbs, etc.? 

A: No! It's to show that God is powerful.  

Q: Why did they split the plagues into three parts?  

A: To help people remember them and to talk about them more. 

Q: Why did God only do the Death of the Firstborn last?  

A: Because God wanted them to suffer the most at the end of the plagues. 

Q: What did the Egyptians think about slavery?  

A: They thought it was cool. 


Q: Why does Pharaoh just put them to work?  

A: He thinks they will overthrow him.  

Q: Why did Pharaoh give up after the 10th plague? 

A: Because he couldn't take it any more after his son died. 

Q: Why did God choose the plagues that he did?  

A: Because God probably knew those plagues would be the ones to help them. 

Q: Why did Moses turn his staff into a snake?  

A: To perform marvels and impress Pharaoh. 


Your curious kiddos are so full of brilliant and thoughtful questions and answers. Get ready for an inquisitive Seder! Stay tuned next week for some Purim Shenanigans!! 


The Four Children

This week we stepped into the shoes of the four children at the Pesach (Passover)seder. Often these four children are described as wise, wicked, simple, and unable to ask a question. We unpacked all of those qualities and looked at how we can be like any of these four kiddos at any given time. Read on to see what your multifaceted children have to say.  


(This kiddo is making a wise face)

What does it mean to be wise? 

  • Being smart. 
  • Asking lots of questions. 
  • They tell me lots of things they already know. And use 85,000 words in one sentence. 
  • Come up with creative answers to questions. 
  • Make noises that remind me of birds during science. 


What are moments when you are wise? 

  • When I ask lots of really good questions. 
  • When I finished my math test early and got extra time in gym. 
  • When I make a random creation. 


What are some wise questions? 

  • Why do we tell “One Crazy Time” at the seder? 
  • What is kiddush all about? 
  • Why do we wash our hands on Shabbat and also on Pesach? 
  • Why do we dip herbs? 
  • Why do we break the middle matzah? Why are there three matzot? 
  • Why do we have to hunt to find the afikomen? 
  • What is this story all about? 


(This kiddo is making a rasha face)

The word rasha is often translated to mean wicked, but there are lots of other translations of that word. We gave kiddos those other translations, and we discussed what those translations mean to us!  Here are some of them: 

  • Rebellious - someone who protests. 
  • Difficult - something really hard, someone annoying. 
  • Chutzpadik (Yiddish) - someone who does something that people wouldn't normally do. 
  • Wicked - bad, evil, or mean. 
  • Problematic - someone who causes difficulty. 
  • Vilde chaya (Yiddish for wild animal) - destructive. 
  • Alienated - excluded, on the outside. 


Which of those understandings best fits the child described in the text? 

  • Wicked, because they sound strict and mean. 
  • Difficult, because it sounds like they're yelling at other people. 
  • Problematic, because they're causing difficulty at the seder. 
  • Rebellious, because they're fighting for and about something they believe in. They think this whole seder thing is weird. 


What are some rasha questions 

  • What even IS “One Crazy Time?" 
  • I don’t want to wash my hands! Why do we have to do this? 
  • I don’t like vegetables, why do I have to eat these vegetables?! 
  • Why does someone get a prize if they find the afikomen? 
  • Why do we have to tell this giant story? 
  • Why can’t we just eat? 
  • Why do we help each other wash, I’m a big kid! 
  • I don’t believe in God, how does this make any sense? 

How might a wise child become rasha? 

  • Bad grades made them angry. 
  • Nothing going their way. 
  • Amnesia. 
  • Competitive about learning. 

What are some Simple questions? 

  • Can I drink that juice now? 
  • How do you wash your hands? 
  • I love cucumber, can I dip all the cucumbers into the salt water and eat it? 
  • Do you dip matzah? 
  • I love “One Crazy Time” but I don’t know how to do it, can you show me? 
  • Will the broken matzah get mad at us? 


What makes questions hard to ask? 

  • Sometimes the teacher can’t answer because too many other kids have questions. 
  • Other people are better at stuff that I am so they don’t call on me. 
  • They are a baby and can’t talk yet. 

 Which kid are you like today? 

  • Today I am wise because I answered questions at school. 
  • Rebellious because I hate Mondays. 
  • Wise because I did well on a test. 
  • Cannot ask because it’s hard to find the words. 
  • Cannot ask because I just can’t think today. 


Throughout our discussions this week we found that there are qualities of all four of these kiddos in all of us, sometimes at the same time! Stay tuned next week as we wade through some terrible, no good, very bad plagues! 

With Great Freedom Comes Great Responsibility

This week we went on a journey back in time, to when we were slaves in Egypt. What was it like being a slave? How did we become free people? Once we got back to present day at Makom Community, we discussed the things that enslave people today, and we explored what freedom means to us. Most importantly, we talked about what our responsibilities as free people are. Read on to see what your wise kiddos had to say. 


What are things that enslave us today? 

  • Housework. 
  • Homework. 
  • The never-ending chess game of politics. 
  • Screens because they are distracting.  
  • There are too many options. 
  • Yelly and rude overseers. 
  • Too much sitting. 
  • My classroom my teacher is mean doesn’t care what we think.  
  • Yelling. 
  • No mistakes allowed. 
  • Sometimes someone’s brain feels like Egypt so they make other people miserable. 


What do you associate with the word "freedom"? 

  • Passover.
  • Kindness.  
  • Friends. 
  • Playing with dolls. 
  • Making your own choices. 
  • The Eagles. 
  • Shabbat and being able to rest. 
  • Love - everyone has a right to be loved! 
  • Happiness, fun, making your own choices. 
  • Hope. 
  • The 76ers. 
  • Openness, having the ability to do different things. 
  • Fun. 
  • People not being slaves. 
  • Eating healthy food. 
  • Having things we want. 
  • Having books and shelves for them. 
  • Having special trips. 
  • Choosing your own job. 
  • Helping to take care of my younger siblings and other little kids. 
  • Myself! 
  • Eating cake! 
  • Disneyland or Hershey Park. 
  • Rides and double food. 
  • Everyone knows how to be peaceful. 
  • People know that violence is bad. 
  • No climate change, war, factories, or pollution. 
  • Advanced but not destructive. 
  • No deforestation. 
  • We are outside all the time. 
  • We get to appreciate earth’s wonders. 


What are our responsibilities as free people? 

  • Kindness - everyone has a responsibility to be kind to each other. 
  • Passover - you might have a job to do to celebrate the holiday. 
  • Friends - making them and how we treat them. 
  • Help enslaved people by giving them money 
  • Don’t litter. 
  • Don’t be like pharaoh. 
  • Don’t make fun of people who need help. 
  • Redeem the world. 
  • If pharaoh was around today, I would speak up to him. 


One of my favorite things about this week was seeing how much gratitude and what a strong sense of freedom these kiddos have. Our list of freedoms goes on and on. Stay tuned next week to hear about our next steps on our adventure to Passover! 

Wacky Backwards Words (try saying that ten times, fast)!

In conclusion, last week was extra silly and fun here at Makom Community! What? This blog is wackbards! Er, I mean backwards. That’s because its Purim Katan, which is a time of wacky, backwards, joyous nonsense. We mixed things up with extra treats, Ivrit (Hebrew language) games, calendar exploration, a surprise snow day, and backwards shenanigans. Stay tuned next week for a return to our unit on Hagaddah as we get ready for Pesach (Passover). 

We treated ourselves to water-ice this week for some silly, joyful Adar shenanigans! Adar is the name of the Hebrew month we are in right now, and it is a time where our joy is supposed to increase! We talked about the Hebrew calendar, and how time is made up, and that leap years happen, and how does that even work?! Check it out! We used this site to find our birthdays on the Hebrew calendar! After that, we then found out when our Hebrew calendar birthdays fall on the secular calendar this year. Double birthday celebrations! 

Appropriately, we had a summer themed snow day camp this week, where we embraced the wackiness of Purim Katan by building sand castles out of...not sand, playing some balloon games, and going on a field trip to play in the “sand” at the Greenfield “beach”. 


On Tuesday a kindergartner started singing "Od yavo" at the beginning of Tefilah, so we decided to do Tefilah backwards. Purim Katan is a great time to follow our kiddos where they lead, as they are our experts on silliness. 


We started our week off with an Ivrit intensive camp day, to start off a week of Ivrit exploration. Here are some of the things we did! 

We decorated signs that show the months of the Hebrew calendar. 

We made an aleph-bet poster. 

We painted the aleph-bet on cookies. 

We practiced our Ivrit by writing out letters in shaving cream, playdough, and sand! 

Welcome to this wacky backwards blog, in it you will find tales of silliness from our week, and amusing pictures and stories of our expertly goofy kiddos.  Continue on to delight in our wacky wintry week! 


Summer Camp 2019 Dates and Themes!

It's time to start thinking about SUMMER CAMP! Makom Community offers programing in the weeks before and after area summer camps run. See below for our list of theme days this summer! We know you need to work and want to make sure your child(ren) are safe and having LOTS of fun.

Early-bird registration for June camp ends May 29th.
Early-bird registration for August camp ends August 12th.

  • Basic Camp Day 10am-4pm: $65 ($55 early-bird) + trip fees if applicable
  • Early-care Bundle 8:30am-4pm: $75 ($65 early-bird) + trip fees if applicable
  • Late-care Bundle 10am-5:30pm: $75 ($65 early-bird) + trip fees if applicable
  • The Whole Shebang 8:30am-5:30pm: $85 ($70 early-bird) + trip fees if applicable

All of our camp days are complete with outside playtime, healthy snacks, and fabulous activities! To sign up, call or email Wyatt Flynn, our camp coordinator! wyatt@makomcommunity.org or (484) 278-133

June Camp Dates and Themes

Wyatt's Birthday and Shavuot Prep

  • Wednesday, June 5 Wyatt's Rainbow Glitter Birthday Bash!
    Celebrate Wyatt's birthday with some of his favorite activities!
  • Thursday, June 6 Yetziyat Mitzrayim (One Crazy Time)
    Prepare for the upcoming holiday of Shavuot with us at this one, crazy camp day.
  • Friday, June 7 Camp at Har Sinai 
    We'll recreate the mountain, go on an adventure through the desert, and learn Torah from each other!

Teva (Nature) Week 1

  • Tuesday, June 11 Tree Art Academy
    Does your kiddo love to paint, sculpt, doodle, and draw? We've got a naturey camp day for them!
  • Wednesday, June 12 Camp in the Kitchen
    Come hungry! We are going to have a day of culinary excitement with solar ovens and sun-warmed tea! 
  • Thursday, June 13 Bartram's Gardens +$15
    We'll take the trolley into West Philly to explore the great outdoors in Bartram's Gardens.
  • Friday, June 14  Summer Olympics 
    Capture the flag! Sportsball! Shake off the school year with some running around outside!

Teva (Nature) Week 2

  • Monday, June 17 Guardians of the Earth Superhero Camp!
    Don't forget your cape!
  • Tuesday, June 18 Franklin Institute +$25
    We'll walk to the Franklin Institute and focus on everything it has to teach us about nature!
  • Wednesday, June 19 Mysteries of the Earth
    A little science, a little mystery. Search for clues and solve the puzzles. Who knows what we'll discover? 
  • Thursday, June 20 Field Trip to Jewish Farm School +$15
    We'll take the trolley into West Philly to visit the Jewish Farm School. Get ready to get your hands in some dirt!
  • Friday, June 21 Music and Movement
    We'll learn songs and dances about nature and maybe even make up our own!


August Camp Dates and Themes

Parashat Hashavua (Torah portion of the week)

  • Monday, August 19 Parashat Korach
    We are going to learn about the rebellion against Moshe through role-playing adventure games!
  • Tuesday, August 20 Field Trip to Smith Playground +$15
    We'll adventure on the #32 bus to Smith Playground and enjoy the day sliding, climbing, and playing.            
  • Wednesday, August 21 Chet Ha'egel
    Explore the way we tell and retell this story with a camp day full of drama and storytelling!
  • Thursday, August 22  Field Trip to Jump To It! +$15
    We'll journey on the #7 bus to Jump To It! followed by cooling off at the Smith Sprayground.
  • Friday, August 23 Meraglim
    Have you always wanted to be a spy? Come learn about some spies from the Torah and practice your sneaky skills.

Holiday Review

  • Monday, August 26 Sukkot
    Make mini sukkot, play with a lulav and etrog, and explore this upcoming holiday in a fun new way!
  • Tuesday, August 27 Bowling +$15
    We will be taking the Broad Street Line to Pep Bowl!
  • Wednesday, August 28 Pesach
    As we continue reviewing Jewish holidays this week, we'll have a matzah baking contest and maybe even a chocolate seder.
  • Thursday, August 29 Franklin Institute +$25
    We will walk over to The Franklin Institute and ponder the depths of the universe!
  • Friday, August 30 Rosh Chodesh
    Explore the moon and its cycle with us using some of our favorite camp day activities.

Yachatz: Brokenness and Repair

This week we broke into Yachatzwhich is the part of the Pesach Seder where we break the middle Matzaas a way to remember the way the world was broken when the Jews were leaving Egypt. It is also a way for us to think about the ways the world might be broken today, and what systems are in place that might need to be broken. Read on to see what your insightful kiddos have to say.  


What did you feel when I broke that piece of matzah? 

  • Scared. 
  • Surprised. 
  • Sad and mad because it reminded me of when someone breaks something that means a lot to someone and they get sad and maybe hit them. 
  • Sad because I wanted to eat it whole. 
  • Sad because I didn't want to see it break. 
  • Mad because it was too crumbly. 


How did you feel about breaking tiles at the yachatz Shulchan Avodah(learning center)? 

  • Strong and powerful while breaking the tile. 
  • It was really loud! 
  • I was angry because the noise was so distracting. 
  • The banging made me jump - it was a little scary. 


When does something break in the leaving Egypt story? 

  • Pharoah breaks his promise. He said the Hebrews could go but then he changed his mind. 
  • Maybe their legs when they were running away? 
  • Our trust in Pharoah when the new Pharaoh rose and wasn't good to us. 
  • Backs of slaves from hard work. 
  • Sea breaks open so we could cross. 
  • Hearts when the first born babies die. 
  • Hearts when Pharoah says to throw Hebrew babies into the Nile. 


What are some ways that our world is broken now? 

  • When people are mean to each other, nature, or animals. 
  • Buildings and houses. 
  • Earthquakes and tsunamis make the earth break. 
  • Not treating each other fairly or the way we want to be treated. 
  • If good were an object, it would be broken. 
  • Cutting down way too many trees for profit. 


Our older kiddos were curious about whether the regular Egyptians really did anything wrong.  This sparked a conversation about what it means to be a bystander in the face of injustice. As we continue to unpack the story of how we became Jews, we will further explore how we, as Jewish people, can fulfil our duty to repair the broken parts of the world. 





One Crazy Time

One crazy time at Makom Community, we started a brand new unit! This week we started our unit on Haggadah, the story of how we became the Jewish people. It’s a story we tell often, but especially on PesachTake a look and see our first steps on this exciting adventure! 

We experienced the joy of grape juice by making our own, and drinking it all week!  

We practiced new but familiar brachot(blessings)kiddush and shehecheyanu! 

We dressed up and had a fancy snack in order to talk about making a day holy and special.  

Kiddos practiced putting the Pesach Seder in order!  

Kiddos learned about how different folks are chosen for different things. We had an activity where each kid had a role, speaker, knower, and builder. The speaker was the only who could talk, the knower was the only one who knew what was being built, and the builder was the only one who could touch the building materials. 

This week we practiced brachot that help us express gratitude for times of joy, and for having been brought to this moment. Your kiddos noticed how the leaving Egypt story inspires this celebration of freedom, and we talked about what it means to be grateful for our continued existence as Jews in the world. Haggadah allows us to journey back with the Jewish people so we can all journey forward. We look forward to continuing this journey together in the upcoming months. Stay tuned! 

Tefilah: End Of Unit Project!

This week we wrapped up our unit on Tefilah (prayerful conversation). This unit culminated in a final project where kids made panels that represent each of the tefilot we do. Continue on to get a glimpse into our process! 


We began with a conversation about what Tefilah helps people do: 

  • Ask God questions, because we want things we can’t get at Target. 
  • Believe that things will be ok. 
  • Understand things our parents don’t know and aren’t in the dictionary. 
  • Ask questions (and get answers). 


We then split kids into groups and assigned them each one of the tefilot we do at Makom Community every day. We invited kiddos to think about what kinds of images those tefilot inspire. Images kids thought of include: 

  • A circle for Adon Olam, because olam means the world and infinity, and a circle doesn’t have a beginning or an end. 
  • People bowing and praying together for Barchu. 
  • Crossing the sea for Mi Chamocha (Exodus 15:11). 
  • A tree for Tzadik Katamar (Psalm 92). 
  • A bride for Lecha Dodi. 


Kids created first drafts on smaller paper that included their symbols, and the name of the tefilah in ivrit(hebrew).

Then we simplified our ideas, and made them again on larger pieces of paper.  

We went over them in dark markers and then traced them onto our cloth panels.

After that kiddos selected fabric to color their symbols, and they added those frabric pieces to their creations! 


These panels will serve as inspiration as we go through our tefilot. We hope that these fabulous creations will help us feel more connected to the big ideas behind each tefilah. Stay tuned next week to hear about our new unit, Haggadah! 

What Does God Do?

This week we delved into the second paragraph of the amidah called gevurotGevurot lists some of the ways God's powers and presence manifest in our world. We unpacked what some of those powers are, what they look like, and how we can do them too! One thing that stuck with me was when a kindergartener said that we could be godlike by protecting our bodies. It is a powerful idea that taking care of ourselves is a righteous and spiritual act that can make waves beyond ourselves. When kids say things like that, I feel hopeful for the future. Read on to see what else your powerful kiddos have to say!

How does God give life?

  • By always being with you.  
  • God tells people when they're going to have a baby. 
  • God can make someone pregnant. 
  • God can plant a seed. 
  • God creates all the seeds. 
  • God created everything. 
  • God creates every day. 
  • Because God can do anything. 
  • God is half dead and half alive, so God can talk to both the dead and live people. 
  • Also because God is half dead and half alive, God can use some of the live part on the dead part and that's healing. 
  • God created stuff that keeps us alive. 
  • Does God really give life? People are born, but I'm not sure if maybe God creates us before we're born. 
  • What if God forgets how to give life? 
  • Maybe everyone dies. 
  • Maybe just no new life can happen. 
  • Maybe time changes. 

How does God help? 

  • God helps with all the wind, and water, and fire, and aaaall the treasures from Forbidden Island (a board game). 
  • God gives life. 
  • God gives death. 
  • God gave Moshe a staff that could turn into a snake and eat the magicians’ snakes.  
  • God make miracles. 
  • God helps by letting people help. 

How is God powerful/present? 

  • God can do anything! 
  • No one tells God what to do. 
  • By always being there.
  • God is strong.
  • God has control.
  • How is God kind? 

  • Listening to us. 
  • Meeting our needs.
  • Helping out with things we want to have happen.

How can we be like God in the way God is described in gevurot? 

  • We can feed people. Even bad people. No matter who they are. 
  • We can pray. 
  • We can be like superman. 
  • We can help people. 
  • We can protect our bodies. 

We are wrapping up our unit on tefilah (prayerful conversations). In the coming week we will be working through our understanding of prayer as the language of the Jewish community, on a personal and communal level. Tune in next week to look back on the whole unit with us!

Tell Me What You Want, What You Really Really Want


This week we dove into the story of where Yaakov visits his uncle Lavan who tricks him into marrying his daughter Leah before he was able to marry Rachel.  Following that Rachel and Leah have a baby-having-contest (go here for details).  We explored this story, specifically with an eye for what the characters want, what they need, and how we can tell the difference. Read on for your kiddos insights! 

What does Yaakov want, and what does Yaakov need? 

  • Yaakov wants Rachel. 
  • Yaakov needs a wife, because his mom told him to get one.  
  • He needs someone to protect him. 
  • Yaakov DIDN’T want to work for Lavan for another seven years. But that is a want not a need. He’s going to live, thrive, be able to take care of his family. 
  • Or it’s both! He could work for 7 more years, so it’s not a total need. But it could be a need because it’s like slavery, and he could get really hurt in those 7 more years before he gets to go live his life. There’s a risk to working 7 more years. 
  • Yaakov wants to not be tricked by Lavan, but it happens in life. Some people get tricked. Some families just trick each other. Trick questions… math tests… 

 What does Lavan want, and what does Lavan need? 

  • Lavan wants to marry off his older daughter first. 
  • Lavan needs to marry off his daughters because he is getting too old to take care of them. 

What does Rachel want, and what does Rachel need? 

  • Rachel wants Yaakov. 
  • Rachel needs protection, and Yaakov can probably do that. 
  • Rachel needed Yaakov to ask before he kissed her. It’s a need, it’s about safety! 
  • Rachel needs to not get married she doesn’t want to. Nowadays, that’s so wrong! But it used to happen a lot. Your father married for you almost. It’s like the father was the one who got married. 

What does Leah want, and what does Leah need? 

  • Leah wants to be loved by lots of people, she wants things to be better. 
  • Leah needs babies so she can be loved and have somone to take care of. People need to be loved because if you didn’t have love, you would get really sad, and you could get sick. 

What do you want? 

  • Dessert 
  • Cookies 
  • TV 

What do you need? 

  • Food 
  • Laughter
  • Home 
  • Bed 
  • Water 
  • A life 
  • A ceiling 
  • Trees  

How can we tell the difference between what we want and what we need?  

  • Something you need is something you need to survive?  
  • Needs are things that are good for you (like growing food). 

 Throughout the week we had lots of conversations about wants and needs. There was a shulchan avodah (learning activity) where we categorized different things as wants or needs. Inevitably there were disagreements. We debated the necessity of sunglasses, feeling safe, video games, and more.  We unpacked what it means to need something, do we need just to survive, or do we have needs beyond basic survival? Can we concentrate on the things we need to do if we don’t feel safe, or if we don’t have enough hugs? No way!  


We talked about how we can help everyone get their needs met by asking folks what they need, and telling people when we need things! We feel lucky to be a part of a community that values taking care of each other in this way.