• Story #5

    Why spend time on yetzirah (art/creating)? It’s integral to developing our ideas.

    As fourth and fifth grade children encountered the biblical Joseph, they considered elements of comics. Where will you “point your camera”? Thick lines. Wavy words. A splash of color. Zoom in. Whose perspective are you showing?

    Children portrayed the same moment so differently! By pairing Torah study with tools for visual expression, children offered each other nuanced text readings, vibrant and dramatic. Torah study, integrated with yetzirah (art/creating), deepened children’s capacity to consider the world from different perspectives.

    Who is Yosef? It depends how you see it.

  • Story #4

    What does it take for children to peel back the layers of a complex biblical figure like Yosef (Joseph) and develop their own interpretation?

    In the first – third grade group, children heard the text multiple times, wrestled with it with peers, and created with chalk pastels. Chalk pastel was such a rich, expressive material for this age group! Children could blend and layer, use pressure and big gestures to express their big feelings about this text.

    Children developed such nuanced interpretations! One 8-year-old thought the biblical Yosef changes through his life. He starts “being normal” and “turns angry” when “his brothers did all those bad things…, because it’s not really his fault that he’s Ya’akov’s [his father’s] favorite.” This child thinks that Yosef becomes a person who is “hiding himself.” Finally, years later, “he took off all of his disguises and showed himself…unleashing himself and revealing himself” to his brothers.

    Wow.

  • Story #2

    The kindergarten children needed more. They were taking part in the nursery tunic-making project, but they were nearly bursting with wanting to grapple with the whole, complex Yosef story. We invited kindergarten children to design their own project.

    The knowledge, creativity, and sensitive social attunement of the four kindergarten children expanded to fill every aspect of this project. From collaboratively retelling the entire text, complete with their own literary flair (from “There was once a boy…” to “And that was that!”) to making props, navigating disagreements, matching character costumes to the mood of the scene, and acting with movement, posture, and expression, children’s interpretation of the text emerged through hundreds of small details and collaborative decisions. This was their version.

    When the kindergarten children saw the book they had created together, they knew they had accomplished something Big. “I feel like a twelfth grader!” one boy said. And indeed, these young children showed as much dedication, collaboration, enthusiasm, and deep thought about Torah and human relationships as Jewish people of any age. Kol hakavod – way to go – amazing kindergarteners.

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