After spending several weeks reading the first fifteen chapters of שמות (Shemot – Exodus) from the time the Israelites were slaves in Egypt through Miriam’s singing and dancing as they make it to the other side of the sea, we’ve finished our reading of the story and have transitioned into exploring פורים (Purim).
I read the Exodus story out loud almost every day for several weeks while children כבוד (kibud – snack), and Shteelimers generated some incredible insights and questions about the story and explored it through many modes (which you have read about and can find out even more about at our Haggadah Family Exploration and Celebration on March 8).
Now that we’ve reached this point of conclusion, Shteelimers returned back to where they began: to the chapel to look at the Hebrew text!
When we first began הגדה (Haggadah) theme and reading from the Book of שמות (Shemot – Exodus), we took out the Torah scroll and each child used the יד (yad – hand, the little metal hand you read Torah with) to find different words we knew from the beginning of the story: משה (Moshe – Moses), מרים (Miriam). We saw that it was close to the beginning of the Torah, but not at the very beginning.
This time, we didn’t scroll the Torah all the way back to that point, but we each got our own חומש (Chumash – Torah in book form) to look at the text. Children again found the words, and then put a place marker on the first page of the Book of שמות.
Then, we turned all the way to the end of the section that we read, Chapter 15. On this page, children were able to find the words מִי כָמֹֽכָה (Mi Kamocha), and we made the connection again that the song the Israelites sing when they get to the other side of the sea in the story has the words of one we sing every day in (Shirah Tefilah)! I was impressed with their ability to figure out the first two letters of מִי כָמֹֽכָה (Mi Kamocha), מִי (mem, yud), and scan their fingers across all the Hebrew words on that page to find it. It was a challenge and were all very excited when we found those words!
Then, we put a place marker at that end point to look at where in the Torah we ended, and marvel at how much we had read over the past weeks.
Going back to see how far we’ve come was a great experience and in my eyes showed the children’s growth in their comfort with, sense of connection to, and curiosity about the words of the Torah since the beginning of both this theme and this year at the Jewish Enrichment Center.