You can hear the sound of children’s voices from out in the hallway.

Inside of the ענפים (Anafim- “branches” for 3rd-4th grade children) classroom, ten eight- to ten-year-olds are sitting at tables, each across from a partner. And as each pair reads and discusses a Jewish text together, an ancient tradition called חברותא (chavruta- ‘friend,’ or learning partnership) comes to life.

It’s not as easy at it looks! To be a good חברותא (chavruta) you have to listen closely to the words of the text, listen closely to your own reactions and intuitions, and listen closely to the words of your partner. You have to take turns, and make sure each person’s ideas and questions are heard. You have to figure out how to explain not only what you think, but why you think it, so that your partner can understand your thinking and really respond to it.

As summer draws closer, it’s easy to hear how much ענפים (Anafim) have grown this year, in their thoughtful ideas, connections to previous texts, and respectful dialogue between peers. Amazing. Can you imagine what kinds of communication and learning they’ll be able to do next year?




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