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A great multimedia way to learn the parsha, at Torah4Kids


November 2008, Cheshvan 5769 [email protected]

Written by Nechama Retting, Director of Education for Shlock Rock

Welcome to Shlock Rock Educator’s Newsletter Volume 2. Our goal is to give you some new ideas for teaching about Israel, Mitzvot/Middot, Torah and the Holidays. Visit our website at

This month we will explore the Mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim – inviting and welcoming guests. During the month of Cheshvan, we read the Torah portion Vayera (Beresheet Chapter 18). In this parsha, Hashem appears before Avraham as he is sitting at the door of his tent, during the hottest part of the day. Hashem (G-d) is visiting Avraham who was recuperating after his brit milah. (Visiting the sick is the mitzvah of Bikkur Cholim which we will explore in a future newsletter!) Avraham sees three strangers approaching and he runs to greet them (leaving Hashem!!). Avraham invites the guests to come and cool off in the shade, washes their feet and brings them food and water. According to the Talmud the Mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim takes precedence over welcoming the Divine Presence (Shabbat 127a) and is part of the daily Shacharit prayers (morning prayers). The Midrash says that Avraham and Sarah’s tent was open on all 4 sides so they could welcome guests from all directions. Avraham and Sarah always served their guests food. When their guests were satisfied, and wanted to thank them, Abraham and Sarah always reminded their guests to thank Hashem, the source of all blessings, whose bounty they enjoyed! (Sotah 10b) What hospitality!!

Recommended SHLOCK ROCK songs: “Hachnasat Orchim” from Shlock Rock for Kids – Sing Together! , “Avraham” from Shlock Rock for Kids Vol. 1 and “Don’t Forget to Bench” from Shlock Rock for Kids Party Time! To listen: click here (then click on the CD desired, and then the song you would like to hear. You can also download songs to your computer or IPod for less then the price of a cup of coffee!! )

Suggested Activities to try with your students or family:

Discussion: Talk to the children about what hospitality is. Have they ever been on a play-date with a friend and had a really great time? Have they ever been to a friend’s house and not felt welcome? How did they feel? Avraham and Sarah set a great example for how to be a good host. This is also a good time to discuss being a good guest as well!

Drama: Bring out the dress up clothes, play food and a tent (or a blanket thrown over a table to create a tent). Practice acting out the story (Parsha Vayera) of Avraham and the 3 guests. Make sure you have something to wash their feet with! What will you make for them to eat?

Activity: Send out invitations to parents and grandparents (or another class) to visit the classroom and hear a story (see book suggestions below) and some songs. Prepare a snack with the children and teach them the Shlock Rock song “Hachnassat Orchim” to perform for their guests. Have the children serve the snacks and some juice to everyone. Teach the children that the guests are served first. Make sure you send a thank you note afterwards to everyone who came!

Cooking/Science: Make some cookies with the children to share with your guests! Remember to make a bracha before eating!

Pareve Rice Krispie Treats

7 ½ oz container of Marshmallow Fluff (if it is too thick, microwave for a few seconds)

5 cups of Rice Krispies (or Cocoa Krispies)

Mix together and put into a 9x13 pan and allow to cool. Cut into bars or use cookie cutters to make shapes and share with your guests!

Craft: Create a tent with 4 doors like Avraham’s, either from poster board or a shoe box. Decorate as desired. Use dollhouse people to act out the parsha story on a floor map of Israel. If you do not have a floor map, now is the time to make one! Use a flannel back vinyl table cloth and draw the shape of Israel. Using a real map, fill in all the places to explore. If drawing is not your forte, then have a child lay on the tablecloth with their left arm extended up and their right knee bent. Then trace around and you will have the state of Israel! (See below)


Books: A Guest is a Guest by John Himmelman, Dovy and the Surprise Guest by Goldie Golding, and Sarah Laughs by Jacqueline Jules.

Bonus topic: November is also the month of Thanksgiving. Did you know that the idea of Thanksgiving came from the Jewish holiday Sukkot? COOL!

Of course, most families have guests (or are the guests) for Thanksgiving so this is also a great way to tie Hachnasat Orchim and Thanksgiving together. There is a nice book called Rikva’s First Thanksgiving by Elsa Okon Rael about a Jewish family celebrating Thanksgiving for the first time.

Activity: Our school has a program called Share-A-Shabbat (Todah Rabah to Sharon Sherry for the idea!). Families fill out a paper saying if they are willing to host Shabbat dinner, or if they would like to be a guest at a Shabbat dinner. Then a group of parent volunteers puts the families together to share a Shabbat! We also take into consideration levels of Shabbat observance and Kashrut levels as well so everyone is comfortable. This is a great concept to include for Thanksgiving as well, and really brings the concept of Hachnasat Orchim home to our families. What a great mitzvah to share!

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