Sifriyat Pijama B’ America begins!

My daughter received her first book through Sifriyat Pijama B’ America (which distributes free Hebrew language materials to American children, particularly those with Israeli parents or grandparents) this week. The first selection was Lea Goldberg’s classic Hayeled Hara (The Bad Boy). My children enjoyed the story–about a boy who blames his naughty behavior on the “bad boy” inside him–and found the illustrations quite charming. The directions for parents explain the book connects to the mishnah in Pirke Avos about “Who is the strong man? The one who controls his inclination (for bad).” The message fits perfectly into this season of Elul, where we are supposed to carefully consider our actions and resolve to do better in the coming year. I’m going to see if I can get my bigger kids to read it to the little ones for their own Hebrew language practice.
I should point out that not only are the Sifriyat Pijama B’ America books in Hebrew (with nekudot), but the parent directions are in Hebrew, too. There was hardly any English at all in the entire package. The result: a little fumbling around with a English-Ivrit dictionary in the Klempner household before we could introduce the book to our children.
The program is now at capacity, but will add new members in December. You can get on the waiting list here:

Shall we play a funeral dirge?

Yes, it’s time to break out a little Chopin funeral march.

Tiras Cham (Hebrew)

Two of our favorite Hebrew picture books have been officially loved to death: the classic Tiras Cham and HaShalom shel Michael. Their tattered pages are currently being mourned by the members of the Klempner household.

This event has sent me on a new adventure: finding new copies. I’ve been successful at finding Tiras Cham. That book is so popular in Israel that Steimatsky there sells Tiras Cham-themed pajamas (possible Chanukah gifts for my little ones?) and you can easily purchase books through their website. However, HaShalom shel Michael is nowhere to be found on the internet. It’s like it never existed. I’ve tried transliterating in a variety of ways and even translating despite my relatively poor Hebrew skills (Should that be Michael’s Hello or Michael’s Greeting?). Zilch!

I’m a little traumatized. Perhaps I’ll patch up the sad, dilapidated pages that have fallen out of the binding and onto the floor. It’s such a beautiful story, all about greeting everyone with a “panim yafot,” as Shammai suggests in Pirkei Avot. I highly recommend the book to everyone…if you can just find a copy!

My time isn’t a total loss. The plus side is that I discovered a neat-o blog about Hebrew language education with some nifty things in it (like an art project/lesson plan to go with another Israel classic, HaBayit Shel Yael):
Then that blog led me to another:
And another!
And yet another!

Free Hebrew books for Jewish kids!

There’s a new project patterned on the PJ Library, that focuses on bringing Hebrew language materials into homes. Targeting the children and grandchildren of ex-patriot Israelis, in particular, philanthropists here in L.A. want to send kids books in Hebrew to cultivate skills in our special language. See this week’s article here for a full explanation.
If you have children 3-5 years of age and would like to receive books in Hebrew throughout the school year, register at the link that follows.