Not Just for Kids

 Vol. 10, No. 16

April 18-24, 2002

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Israel in the News
For Jewish people all over the world, Israel’s 54th birthday is a time of sorrow as well as celebration. They celebrate because the Jews had for centuries no land to call their own until Israel was recreated in the land divisions following World War II.

That division of land is also the reason Jewish people grieve today. For the state of Israel was formed from Palestine, and a home for one nation meant homeless for another. Since the beginning Palestinians have fought to establish their own homeland.

In recent months, the conflict has reached its greatest intensity, with death and destruction on both sides. Even the September 11 attack on America has its roots in this conflict.

So the Jewish people do not grieve alone. Palestinians and Arab people all over the world suffer their own grief — and nobody knows how this conflict will be resolved.

Interview with Toast, a star Jewish puppet
Bay Weekly: I’ve met a lot of puppets, but none of them were Jewish. Tell me the biggest way that being Jewish makes you different.

Toast : We're Jewish because we participate in Jewish culture. We care about it. We want to share the joys of Jewish life with our audiences. We do shows for the High Holidays, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Chanukah, Tu B'Shvat, Purim, Pesach, Yom Ha-atzmaut and, of course, Shabbat. What could be more Jewish than that?

Bay Weekly : Many Jewish puppets wear a small cap called yarmulke (or a kippa) on their heads to remind themselves of their religion and their spirituality. Do you and your friends wear yarmulkes?

Yes, I wear a kippa. It makes me happy. It makes me feel part of the Jewish people and proud to say so. Some of my friends do, some don't. It's a personal decision.

Bay Weekly :
I know that Jewish prayers are usually spoken in Hebrew, but do all Jewish puppets speak Hebrew?

Toast: No, all Jewish puppets don't speak Hebrew. I do. I worked very hard to learn how. Some of the puppets in our shows are trying to learn. I try to give my friend Wilbur a Hebrew lesson in our Israel show, and he gets all mixed up. If you'd like to see some talking Hebrew letter puppets, get one of the first six episodes of the Alef … Bet … Blast-Off! videos. You can order them at on the net.

Bay Weekly: When puppets reach 13, they have a ceremony called a bar-mitzvah (for boy puppets) or a bat-mitzvah (for girl puppets) that symbolizes their journey to adulthood. Have you had a bar-mitzvah?

Toast :
You know, I never have had a bar-mitzvah. I'll have to check the calendar and see if I'm 13 yet. What a great idea! I should have one!

Bay Weekly :
At the show, you will help celebrate Israel's birthday. Why is celebrating Israeli independence important?

Our homeland is a big part of Jewish culture. We remember Israel every day in our prayers, and during many of the Jewish holidays. I've been to Israel to do puppet shows, so I know first hand what a wonderful country it is. Like everyone, I hope for peace there soon.

Bay Weekly : What does being Jewish mean to you?

Toast: It means that I'm part of something rich, wonderful and meaningful, and it helps me remember to try to make the world a better place every day.

Come see the fabulous puppets of Len Levitt
in Happy Birthday Israel, a puppet show celebrating Israeli Independence Day on Sunday, April 21at Aleph Bet Jewish Day School. The show begins at 2:30pm but show up at 1:30 for food, crafts and face-painting. You’ve seen Levitt’s work on programs such as Sesame Street Live, Men in Black and Batman Returns. His Jewish television specials Bubbe’s Boarding House and Aleph … Bet … Blast-Off! air on PBS and the Jewish Television Network. 1125 Spa Road in Annapolis $10 w/advance discounts: 410/990-9836.

Make Your Own Puppet

You will need:

  • 1 empty 2- liter bottle
  • Lots of felt
  • Material of your choice
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Scissors
  • Yarn

1. First make the face. Cut the felt into a square the size of a regular piece of paper, 8.5 x 11 inches.

2. Turn the bottle upside down and glue the face on, using just a little glue in the middle, leaving the edges of the face free. Leave two inches of the bottle showing at the bottom.

3. Now we’re ready for the body. Cut the fabric into a big rectangle, about 10 inches long and 18 inches wide so it’s big enough to wrap around the bottle.

4. Wrap the fabric around the base of the bottle, tucking it a little bit under the face, and glue it to the bottle so it looks like a big tube.

5. Now it’s time to decorate your puppet! Make felt arms, eyes, ears, a felt mouth, nose, tongue or anything else your puppet needs. Glue on yarn for hair and leave your puppet alone for an hour to let it dry.

6. To hold your puppet, grab the narrow end of the bottle underneath the fabric body. Make sure to give your puppet a name. Now get ready to put on a performance!

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly