A mezuzah is a central symbol in Judaism, marking the homes of those who believe in this religion. Placing a mezuzah on the doorposts of Jewish homes originates with the passage in Deuteronomy 6:9, which states, "And you shall write on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Contained inside the mezuzah is the sacred Shema, one of the most basic and sacred Jewish prayers that proclaims there is only one god as written in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Together with children in your class, you can make your own mezuzah in order to enrich their Jewish lives.
Toilet Paper Rolls
You can make a larger mezuzah with your child using a toilet paper roll as the case for the scroll. Use paint, crayons or paper to help your child cover the mezuzah case you make. Glue round pieces of fitted cardboard on the top and bottom of the toilet paper rolls so the scroll fits. Your child also may use glitter glue or other accoutrements as he pleases.
Matchbox mezuzahs are a fun and simple way to bring Judaism alive with your children. Empty a matchbox and glue it to a wood craft stick. Cover the matchbox with paint or construction paper and anything else with which your child would like to decorate it. Use the stick to mount the mezuzah on the door frame of the child's bedroom.
A variety of craft stores and Jewish supply stores have mezuzah kits, which allow your child to make her own mezuzah with a polished finish. These kits typically come with wood mezuzah case that your child can personalize and paint, adding her own personality to the mezuzah. These mezuzahs easily can be affixed to doorposts when you are finished, as they come pre-drilled for nails.
Scroll and Outside of the Mezuzah
Most mezuzahs have the Hebrew letter "shin" on the outside of it for the first letter of one of the names for God, Shaddai. Take this opportunity to help introduce your child to Hebrew letters, or quiz him on what he already knows by challenging him to write a "shin" without help.
The inside of the scroll usually is purchased from scribes in Israel; however, your child may make his own informal mezuzah scroll. Take a pice of paper small enough to fit inside of the mezuzah you make and write the Shema. You may write it out in Hebrew if your child is able, or you can show your child how to write the word "Shema" in Hebrew. Transliterated, the Shema says, "Sh'ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad," which means "Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One."
Writing since 2008, Fiona Miller has taught English in Eastern Europe and also teaches kids in New York schools about the Holocaust. Her work can be found on Overstock.com, ConnectED and various other Web sites. Miller holds a B.A. in French from Chapman University and an M.A. in educational theater from New York University.