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Making HaMotzee



Shevat 5771   [email protected]   

Written by Nechama Retting, Director of Education for Shlock Rock


Welcome to Shlock Rock Educator’s Newsletter Volume 25. Our goal is to give you some new ideas for teaching about Mitzvot & Middot, Torah, Israel and the Holidays. Visit our website at, click on Educators Corner to view our back issues.


Adult Learning: This month we will be learning about the prayer Hamotzi.  We are so blessed to have enough food to eat and must remember to teach that gratitude to our children and students. During the Middle Ages when diseases were so prevalent, the fact that Jews were obligated to ritually wash before eating was a life saver, literally!  Hashem is such a genius! To ritually wash, one removes all rings and fills the Negel vasser (ritual hand washing cup). Then you pour water on your right hand 3 times then your left hand 3 times than say the bracha: ….al netilat yadayim. It is also a tradition that after you wash, there is no talking until Hamotzi is said. This is a beautiful time of silence and inner thoughts or perhaps some niggunim (songs without words). Once Hamotzi is said then everyone is able to partake of the meal. Traditionally we put salt on the challah to add taste and to remind us of the offerings giving in the Temple (for more info on why we use salt click here.) From Rosh Hashanah until after Simchat Torah, we use honey! Yum!


Suggested Shlock Rock Songs: "This Bracha"  from Shlock Rock for Kids Volume 1, "I Keep Kosher" and "Everybody say Amen!"  from Shlock Rock for Kids Party Time,  "Al Hamichya" from Shlock Rock for Kids Volume 3, "I make a Bracha" from Shlock Rock for Kids Sing Together, "Brachos Time" from Shlock Rock The Kosher Police, "Every Bite you Take" from Greatest Hits 1, and "Makin' HaMotzee" from Shlock Rock - Bring Back That Shabbos Feeling.  To hear the songs, click the above links or here:  kids songs ,  original songs,  parody songs and Hebrew songs  then click on the CD, then the song you want to hear.
You can download songs to your computer or MP3 player and burn a CD for only $.99-$1.25 per song just click


For a mere $64.95 you can own EVERY Shlock Rock Kid’s song!  Just click here!  It is every school’s dream come true! J Check out Shlock Rock’s newest CDs: Shlock Rock – Shabbat in Liverpool and Shlock Rock No Limits available here. 


Suggested Activities to try with your students or family:


For ideas related to teaching about Tu B’Shevat click here.


Israel Connection: Bake some Israeli Pita bread (see recipe below) with your children. If you are blessed with an outside picnic area and have parent volunteers to help you, this is a great time to bake the fresh pita on an outdoor grill. In Israel, they have a special pita baker (I think it is called a “Saj”) that looks sort of like an upside down wok that goes over the fire and the pita lies on the top. Pita baked this way was the best pita I ever ate in my whole life! 

Story: This is a story based on the Talmud (Tractate Berachot, Chapter 6: Tosefta 5) that talks about Rabbi Ben Zoma feeling gratitude for the offerings brought to the Temple Mount. The actual story I am writing is a Midrash based on this tractate showing Ben Zoma when he was a little boy. This is a good time to use your floor map of Israel!

A long time ago, in the land of Israel there lived a boy named Ben Zoma. Ben Zoma loved to play with his friends. Whenever he went into the woods to explore, he would see his friends out in the woods too. He would always remember to look at each person, greet them and think about how each person was different and unique. Wow! Hashem created all these people. Ben Zoma would say thank you to Hashem for creating so many different kinds of people, all with their own minds to think with. 

After a long morning of exploration, Ben Zoma headed home for lunch. His Ima made him a wonderful sandwich with cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. Ben Zoma loved his sandwiches on pita bread!

Ben Zoma enjoyed his lunch so much that he wanted to thank his mom for his meal. So he thanked his Ima for the sandwich and his Ima replied: “Bevakashah, but there is no need to thank me! You should thank the man at the shuk where I bought the pita bread.”

So after lunch, Ben Zoma went to the shuk to thank the grocer. The shuk was filled with wonderful sights! There were so many amazing sounds and the most delicious smells! When Ben Zoma found the grocer, he told him thank you for the pita from his lunch. The grocer was surprised! It wasn’t very often that people came in to say thank you to him! He said, “That’s so kind of you! But if you really want to thank someone; you should thank the baker who made the pita!”

So he walked over to the bakery. The baker was covered in flour and was kneading some dough. “Oh Mrs. Baker,” said Ben Zoma, “I would like to thank you for the delicious pita bread I ate for lunch.”
“Oh my,” said the baker, “No need to thank me; you should thank the miller who ground the flour so I could make the pita!”

So Ben Zoma continued on his journey to see the miller. He thought about how many people it had taken to make his lunch! He arrived at the Flour Mill, and went inside to thank the miller. The miller replied, “Well, actually, you should thank the farmer who grew the wheat. Without the wheat, there would be no flour!”

So Ben Zoma walked a bit further to the local farm. He found the farmer out in the field. “Excuse me Mr. Farmer, but I would like to thank you for my delicious lunch I ate today.” Now the farmer replied, “That is very kind of you to say, but really you should thank Hashem who is the One who made the sun shine and the rain to fall so my crops could grow. Without Hashem, there would be no wheat for bread! Do you remember the prayer the Hamotzi?Hamotzi Lechem Min Ha’aretz - …Thank You Hashem…..Who brings forth bread from the Earth”. 

Now Ben Zoma understood! Ben Zoma headed for home, again realizing that everything comes from Hashem. “Thank You Hashem for my delicious lunch. Thank You for the farmer, the miller, the baker, the grocer, and my Ima, and thank You for helping all of them work together to make my lunch. Amen!”


Activity/Cooking: This is a great time to show the process from wheat to flour to bread.  After telling (or acting out!) the story above, talk about where bread comes from. (Without hearing the story, usually the answer is the store!). Show the children how wheat grows and that it is ripe in Israel in late spring for Shavuot. Try planting wheat seeds.

Practice harvesting wheat (purchased at local craft stores) by sticking the decorative wheat into florist foam. Have each child harvest or cut a piece of wheat and separate the grain from the chaff.  After “harvesting”, grind the “grain” using a mortar and pestle to grind the wheat berries into flour (make sure to grind fresh wheat berries - available at Whole Foods and health food stores since the craft store grain is not for consumption). Also have “store bought” flour on hand as well to really bake with. Then bake challah or pita bread. Then the children will be able to see why we say: Hamotzi lechem min ha aretz – Who brings bread from the Earth. This lesson can be revisited throughout the year when you bake birthday cakes, soufganiot, hamantaschen, Matzoh, and for Shavuot, etc…. The Little Red Hen is also a great book to read during the process.


Project: This is a wonderful time to create a class storybook for your book corner. This book could be called From Seed to Bread. Follow the activity above and take digital camera pictures documenting each step to create the book. Alternatively you could have students draw the pictures after they experienced the process (perhaps even revisiting the process using the pictures you took of the children during the process). This is a great way to review when you are baking at other times during the school year.

Books: Bread, Bread, Bread by Ann Morris, Bread Comes to Life, A Garden of Wheat a Loaf to Eat by Shmuel Thaler, Everybody Bakes Bread by Norah Thorton, Grains to Bread by Inez Snyder, From Wheat to Bread by StacyTaus-Bolstad, Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, and (my favorite!) Bagels from Benny by Aubrey Davis.







***Please feel free to share this newsletter!! If you know someone who wants to be added to the list have them email me at [email protected]. To see our back issues go to and click on Educators Corner ***