Every theme here at the Jewish Enrichment Center is different.
They each have their own rhythm. Some themes start with a big story, or a big question; some move quickly and some build gently.
For ענפים (Anafim– “Branches” for 3rd-4th grade children), this autumn has been a slow adding-on of layer after layer of text. We started with Avraham encountering three mysterious visitors at the opening of his tent. We followed his argument with Adonai about the fate of the cities of S’dom and Amorah, towards the end of Genesis 18, and then watched nervously as the men of the city started to surround the dwelling where the messengers were staying with Lot, Avraham’s cousin, in the beginning of Genesis 19. We circled back to Genesis 15, 16, and 17, catching glimpses of the strange predictions and covenants that would shape Avraham and Sarah’s futures in the text.
Throughout, the children listened carefully, wondered, and reflected. Some children have sketched character designs for certain characters, over and over again. Some have carefully mapped out each character’s feelings at different points in the text. Some children have recorded audio summaries and reviews of each text as we encountered them, stringing together questions and arguments from chapter to chapter. They’ve shared ideas with the group, agreeing and disagreeing about the twists and turns of the plot.
Now, in each theme, there’s a pivot point, where the children move from retelling texts, and wondering about the texts, into claiming their own ideas about them. I thought that maybe this week would be the week when ענפים (Anafim) would turn that corner and start to voice their own interpretations of the text.
But early in the week, when I asked the children go back and review all the texts we’ve explored so far, they sank so deep into reading or listening to audio recordings of each chapter.
The quiet scribbling and murmuring in the classroom told me, “Don’t be impatient. We’re not ready to create our own projects yet. We’re still taking it in!”
So we’re taking some more wait time. There’s no rush, ענפים (Anafim)! When you’re ready, you’ll let me know.