A new set of trading cards is helping Jewish children keep their foodstuffs straight, teaching them about the world of blessings made before eating.
While many can recall the blessings made over wine – such as at a Sabbath meal – or on bread, there are in fact, six distinct blessings, known in Hebrew as brochos. It can be a confusing melee for anyone learning about the intricacies of Jewish practice, a fact that led Rabbi Moishe Wiener, a fourth-grade teacher at the Chabad-Lubavitch day school in Monsey, N.Y., to come up with a way to make these oft-repeated blessings both accessible and fun.
According to Wiener, making a blessing on an apple – or brownie or bowl of cereal – cuts right to the core of Jewish life.
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“We thank G-d for granting us the possibility to derive benefit from His creations in this world,” explains Wiener. “It is our way of asking permission.”
The Know Your Brochos cards feature different colors corresponding to the six types of blessings: on bread, on wine, on bread-like snacks made out of grain, on fruits, on vegetables, and on animal-based and processed food.
The front of each card sports a picture of a food and its corresponding blessing, as well as the food’s name in Hebrew, such as gezer lavan for parsnip and mishmeshim for apricots.
Wiener sees the cards as a great resource for teachers, who can give them out as prizes.
“Is is a very effective tool when accompanying a blessings curriculum,” echoes Rabbi Nochem Kaplan, director of the education office at Lubavitch World Headquarters.
Rabbi Moishe Wiener invented the trading cards to end the confusion experienced by many kids wondering what blessing to make on which food.
Backings feature “fun food facts,” such as how a specific fruit got its name or a passage from the Talmud about that particular food. The card for bananas, for instance, tells children that “the cluster of bananas sold in supermarkets is known as a hand, while the individual bananas are called fingers.”
Wiener says he got the idea from Laffy Taffy, a kosher candy whose wrapper contains different jokes and factoids. The first thing kids do, says the rabbi, is read the wrapper before eating the candy.
“Kids love the facts and they internalize them for many years to come,” says Wiener.
Rabbi Yaakov Klein of Torah Umesorah, a Jewish educational institution, calls the cards “an impressive piece of work. This is a great educational tool, and with not so many Jewish trading cards out there, this is a great start.”
“The kids are really excited about the cards,” adds Rabbi Yossi Rosenblum, principal of the Yeshiva Day School in Pittsburgh, Pa., “It’s been a tremendous success in our school.”
“It motivates kids,” says Gil Hami, an educator at the Hebrew Academy of Morris County, N.J., “It’s creating an entire atmosphere of making blessings on food at the school.”