Rainbow of Mitzvot; Hiddur P'nai Zaken

Honoring the Elderly


Subject: Mitzvah to Honor the Elderly

Target: Kindergartners and their families

Time Frame: Two Hours

Congregation: Shaare Emeth

Contributor: Ronnie Brockman


Rainbow of Mitzvot are grade level mitzvah projects developed to teach each grade level about a specific mitzvah.  The congregation is invited to attend any of these mitzvah projects.  This particular program is planned for families with Kindergarteners and focuses on honoring the elderly.


To learn about the mitzvah Hiddur P’nai Zaken.


Families participate in special projects with senior citizens, and thus fulfill the commandment of honoring the elderly and doing mitzvoth for them.  Part of the program is to make a Dream Catcher which is a door hanging that keeps out bad dreams.  It is a hoop made to look like a spider’s web and is of Native American origin.  This craft  is chosen because we can all relate to dreams.

Target Population

Kindergartners and their families


Crown Center for Senior Living

Staff and Specialists

Crown Center Specialists; Music Specialist; Teachers; Family Educator


The family educator works with the teachers to plan this program.  Contact the appropriate person at the Senior Living Center to arrange a day. Mail invitations three weeks before, publicize in the temple bulletin for other congregants to join the program.


  1. Short handout about the tradition of a Dream Catcher
  2. Chicken Soup by Heart by  Esther Hershenhorn
  3. Dream Catcher instructions
  4. 3-6” wood or plastic hoops (one per person) which can be purchased at a place like Wal-Mart
  5. lots of different colored yarn
  6. markers
  7. 18-25 pairs of scissors (depends on size of group)
  8. masking tape
  9. tacky glue
  10. beads, feathers
  11. digital camera
  12. Nametags
  13. Sign for Entrance
  14. Clothes pins
  15. drinks, mini muffins, small plates, napkins, cups, trays

Program Activities

9:00-9:10 a.m.   
Families arrive, sign in, get nametags

9:10-9:20 a.m.   
Families are introduced to each other.  They are given an overview of the program.

9:20-9:30 a.m.   
Teachers  read and discuss the story Chicken Soup by Heart, which is a story about a boy Rudi and his grandmother. 

9:30-9:40 a.m. 
Seniors arrive and students give them nametags.  They introduce themselves and ask these two questions:

  1. What is your name and where were you born?
  2. What is your favorite holiday and why?

9:40-9:50 a.m.    
Participants are divided into groups and are seated around tables.  The family Educator leads a discussion on what Judaism says about the importance of  fulfilling the Mitzvah, Hiddur P’nai Zaken.  All  participants are asked to think about a special time they spent with their grandparent(s) or other older adult.  They share this with their group.

9:50-10:10 a.m.  
One of the educators explains that Dream Catchers are door decorations and are Native American in origin.  They catch bad dreams and let good dreams go down to the person who is sleeping. 

Families work with the senior citizens to make door Dream Catchers. 

If time, families  make a Dream Catcher for themselves.

10:10-10-30 a.m.
Snack – kindergarteners serve drinks and mini muffins (trays, cups, juice, mini muffins, napkins or small plates)

10:30-10:40 a.m.
Singing with music specialist

10:40-10:45 a.m.
Closing: Family Educator thanks the group


The main cost is for supplies.

References and Resources

Hershenhorn, Esther  Chicken Soup by Heart  Simon and Schuster, Inc 2002

Questions and ideas for discussion about Chicken Soup by Heart

www.wikipedia.org and www.nativetech.org
Resources on the internet that give a history of Dream Catchers and explain how to make them.
For background: 

To learn how to make a Dream Catcher