Building Lasting Connections: Nurturing Your Child’s Bond with Israel Beyond the Conflict

December 25, 2023 in Israel

By Education Director Elisha Rothschild Frumkin. 

I love Israel.  I always have.  Even though no one in my family had ever visited in person – save my eccentric great uncle who served as a volunteer in Israel for a month in the mid-1980s – I developed a strong connection to Israel from the time I was a young child.  Perhaps it is due to the lack of a substantial Jewish population where I lived in the far reaches of the San Francisco Bay Area, causing the idea of a majority Jewish country to captivate a kid who had to grin and bear it while singing Christmas carols in the annual winter concert.  Whatever the reason, Israel has always been my hook, and that personal connection drives me to give our students opportunities to explore and develop personal connections to this special place.

Fostering a strong and positive connection with Israel is a key part of a well-rounded Jewish education.  While the news may be dominated by deeply challenging and upsetting headlines, it is important to provide children with opportunities to explore the rich cultural tapestry that makes Israel such a unique and vibrant place.  Here are some ways for families to help their children build lasting connections with Israel beyond the current challenges.

Reading Books About Israel

With the recent explosion of Jewish children’s books, it is easier than ever to find books that bring Israel to life on the page.

Videos about Israel

I remember first seeing Shalom Sesame videos when I was a kid, and the great news is that they have been updated since then!  Even better news is that there is an entire YouTube channel for their videos – short ones ranging less than 30 seconds on various topics like the Hebrew months or letters in the Hebrew Alef Bet.

  • You can find Shalom Sesame on YouTube here.
  • If you’d like to access videos of their full episodes, I did find them on Amazon Prime – just search “Shalom Sesame,” and find all 12 of their episodes, each with a different focus.

Looking something for an older audience?  There are a number of virtual tours of Israel that you can find on YouTube, many of which were created in the last few years when fewer people were traveling to Israel because of the pandemic.  You will want to check them out first to make sure they are a good fit for your particular audience.

Israeli Music

Even if you cannot understand all of the lyrics, listening to Israeli music can help give kids a feel for this unique and diverse place.  It’s easier than ever to discover Israeli artists and to listen to their music.  Hop on over to Spotify and search for Israeli playlists.  You’ll find a number of options – I recommend the “Top 50 – Israel” list to give you a sense of the most popular songs and artists right now.  If you check out the “Israeli Party” playlist, you’ll find some fun, upbeat numbers, many of which your kids may already know if they go to a Jewish sleepover camp that integrates Israeli pop music into their days.

Culinary Exploration

Food can be a powerful cultural connector.  Introduce your children to the delicious world of Israeli cuisine.  Our local kosher grocery stores carry many Israeli products – take a field trip and see what new snacks and treats you might find!  You can even find a small selection at our local mainstream grocery stores in the Kosher aisle.

In addition to snacks, there are a number of great Israeli cookbooks out there.  You can find recipes from famous Israeli chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi or Michael Solomonov online or at the Montgomery Public Library branch near you.  One new one that I recently checked out is Sababa (which means “cool” or “great”), by Adeena Sussman.

I hope some of these resources can help bring your families a taste of Israel that helps your children continue to develop and strengthen their personal relationship to this remarkable place.  By fostering these connections, we empower them to view Israel through a broader lens – one that goes beyond the conflict to embrace the country’s rich culture and history.