Preschoolers in pajamas learn about Jewish bedtime rituals

3-year old Early Childhood Center student Liam Zohar decorating his pillowcase for the Shema Pajama Party

As the sunset on Thursday, Feb. 11, the students from Temple Beth Sholom Early Childhood Center in Roslyn Heights logged on to Zoom in their pajamas to participate in a virtual pajama party.

To mark the occasion, students and staff at the preschool came to school in their pajamas in anticipation of the evening event. The event, the Zoom Shema Pajama Party, was created to help teach the preschool children about the Shema prayer, which is traditionally said in the evenings before going to bed. Simply put, this Jewish blessing serves as a way to thank G-d for the gift of another day.

At Temple Beth Sholom Early Childhood Center, the nursery school children prepared for the “big event” by decorating special pillowcases with the ritual morning and evening prayers printed on them in Hebrew.

Due to COVID restrictions, this typically in-person event was moved to Zoom to allow young families to participate safely, from the comfort and safety of their homes. Prior to the event, the preschool sent home each chid’s pillowcase, a copy of the special Shema blessing, cookies, and a toothbrush with toothpaste. Each package was marked with a “BYOM” suggestion, “Bring Your Own Milk,” to enjoy with cookies.

Early Childhood Center Director, Jen Schiffer, kicked off the evening by reading a book about the Shema blessing called “The Perfect Prayer” by Donald Rosoff and illustrated by Tammy L. Keiser. The children were invited to share their pillowcases with their friends and families, and Rabbi Alan Lucas concluded the evening by teaching the children about the proper techniques for teeth brushing.

During a pandemic winter, when the cold and darkness prevent outdoor gatherings, and with strict restrictions regarding indoor events, the administration and staff at Temple Beth Sholom Early Childhood Center are finding new and creative way to deliver meaningful Jewish events and experiences to families in their community. “This is not forever,” said Schiffer, “this is what we must do for now, until we can safely gather together again.”

Who doesn’t love a pajama day?


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