Monday, September 28, 2009

I’m Getting Ready for the Sukkot-Simhat Torah Vacation

Shalom Boys & Girls: It’s me again – Zvuvi – and this time my cousin Zehava has come along for the ride.

Have I told you that Israel is a country made for kids? The best time to prove that is during the holidays. Take the Sukkot/Simhat Torah vacation, which is about to begin. There is no school for 10 whole days!!! -- starting from the day before Sukkoth and continuing through the day after Simhat Torah, because that’s Isru Chag – the carry-over day after the holiday, and school is still out. Sukkot is one of the most fun times of the year. Here’s a sneak preview so you’ll understand why.

Since Sukkot is one of the three festivals during which we should all go up to Jerusalem, I’m going to start with Israel’s capital city. Whew…what a schedule! Sooo many activities in all the museums, including puppet theater shows, scavenger hunts, arts & crafts workshops -- you name it, they’re doing it. There’s more besides museums. This year I’m going to zip by The Red Bull Festival in Sachar Park because there’s going to be a Flying Car Competition. Hey – I fly too! Maybe I can compete. I’m also going to buzz over to Ghepetto’s Woodworking Workshop held every day during Hol Hamoed in one of Jerusalem’s colleges. Uh, oh. It says kids must be accompanied by an adult. I have to tell my mother about that. She loves bird watching, so I’ll make a deal with her. I’ll join her on a family hike or a night safari held by the Jerusalem Bird Observatory if she takes me to Ghepetto.

Speaking of nature – and you’re right, I’m also a part of that – I love buzzing by all the special Sukkot events held at Israel’s National Parks.

Israel has over 60 national parks and nature reserves. I’m too much on the move to tell you about each, so check them out for yourself. The parks host all kinds of fun activities every Sukkot – from juggling to make-believe Nabatean markets as they existed thousands of years ago. There are even more nature activities in Israel’s forests. Every Succoth the Jewish National Fund becomes the Jewish National Fun with family hikes, meals, bicycle tours and more.
Many parents only work half a day each day of Hol Hamoed so that they can spend time with their children. Some even take the whole holiday off. That’s why there are periods during Sukkot when traffic can get bumper-to-bumper on Israel’s highways and by-ways. The distances in Israel are not that big, so families are out enjoying a different activity every day.

I haven’t even told you half of what goes in Israel during Sukkoth. There are fun events everywhere – in the southern desert region, in Tel Aviv and the cities surrounding it, and up north. Like I said, this was just a sneak peek. So bye for now.
Chag Sameach…Zvuvi

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fly with Zvuvi to “The Asking Tree”

Shalom Girls & Boys:
My name is Zvuvi. I’d like to be your guide to life in Israel for kids. I’ve already come out with a book – Zvuvi’s Israel – that takes you to fun places in Israel. Ask your teacher or librarian if s/he can show you a copy. You’ll see that I’m a “shovav” – that’s Hebrew for a fun-loving, mischievous boy. I really don’t get into trouble, I just like to always be on the move. That’s why the first thing I’m going to do in this blog is take you to the mall in Kiryat Ono -- a small city in the center of the country, right outside Tel Aviv.

“What? Another mall?” you’re asking. Yeah, I know. You’ve got plenty of malls in the United States. But I bet none of them has an “Asking Tree.” I just found out about it and it’s the only tree of its kind in Israel. It’s really neat. It’s a real citrus tree that’s gone bald. So the management of the mall transported it inside and painted it to look like a sculpture. Why is it called an “Asking Tree”? Here’s the buzz. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are when we pray for a good year. The “Asking Tree” lets boys and girls make specific requests for themselves and the country. A lady named Aviv is in charge of the “Asking Tree”. She told me that any kid who wants to ask a question is given a piece of recycled paper on which to write their request. The “leaf” is then hung on the tree.

You like that idea? I think it’s pretty cool. But the best thing of all is that at the end of the holiday season – that means after Simchat Torah – the Mayor of Kiryat Ono is going to collect all the note leaves and drive to Jerusalem, where he will present them to the secretary of the Knesset – Israel’s parliament. The members of the Knesset will read the questions and discuss among themselves what can be done about all the requests. Now, I’d like to be a fly on the wall in that room!

What about creating some type of “Asking Tree” in your school? Let me know if you do.

See you in 2 weeks.
Shana Tova…Zvuvi

Monday, September 14, 2009

Introducing Zvuvi's Israel Blog

I am about to start a second blog. Hopefully it will not be a fly-by-night affair even though its host will be my favorite fly – Zvuvi. Who is Zvuvi? He is the main character of my new book Zvuvi’s Israel.His name is derived from the Hebrew word “zvuv”, which means fly – as in maddening insect with wings. But Zvuvi is not out to bug you or your readers. He’s a mischievous, fun-loving fly who is the perfect Israel tour guide for kids. Aside from taking you to all of Israel’s fun and kid-friendly attractions beautifully illustrated in the book (yes, please go out and buy it), I’ve decided to expand his activities. After you introduce your students to the book Zvuvi’s Israel, please explain to them that Zvuvi is not a fly-by-night book. He is part of a bigger picture that will include a bi-weekly blog showing kids what life in Israel is like for children their age.

You are the reason that I am embarking on this new project. One of the common concerns that I heard from teachers, librarians and parents during my year in the States is that kids today have a hard time connecting to Israel. I want to help bridge that gap and I know that Zvuvi is the perfect partner to help me accomplish this task. Please don’t swat the blog off your screen. Get ready for the buzz. I'll be sending out the next blog real soon and then I'll be back with Zvuvi two weeks later. But you will always be on my radar. On alternate weeks I'll be updating you on interesting Jewish holiday customs posted in my other blog, Tami Lehman-Wilzig Kids Books.For now,
Le’Hitraot…Tami & Zvuvi