by Ellen Dietrick

As we begin the new year, you, like me, may be looking for new ways to bring relevant and useful Jewish resources to the daily lives of the families you encounter. The URJ’s Got Shabbat offers an easy way to bring the cycle of the Torah into your congregation’s early childhood program. Each issue offers a thoughtful commentary on the weekly Torah portion and relates it directly to a practical parenting or child development topic.

Although designed to be copied and sent home in the backpacks of young children, Got Shabbat can be used in so many other ways. Consider:

  • Use one as the basis of a d’var torah at the beginning of a committee meeting
  • Bring one to a faculty meeting for an in-depth study and discussion
  • Quote a small piece of one in a newsletter or blog post, referring families to the Got Shabbat website for more
  • Send out a weekly link to that week’s issue

Don’t feel tied to using just the issue that corresponds to that particular week’s Torah portion. You can also use them by theme. Consider:

  • Are you having a parent coffee on the topic of gossip? Focus on the Parashat Balak issue of Got Shabbat, which explores the power of words for both children and adults.
  • Looking for a way to connect Thanksgiving to our Jewish values? Try using the Parashat Ki Tavo issue, which gives ideas for teaching children how to express gratitude.

Ready to get started? It’s an easy, four-step process.

  1. If you want the issue related to this week’s Torah portion, check the Weekly Torah Portion Schedule (or any Jewish calendar).
  2. Access the full Got Shabbat Parshiyot Library and find the parasha you’d like to use.
  3. Click and click again.
  4. Print copies to send home in backpacks, send a link to families, or try one of the other ideas listed above.

Already using Got Shabbat? Please share your ideas. I’d love to know what you are doing with them and how they are working.

Ellen Dietrick is the Director of Early Childhood Education at Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, MA.