Monday, February 14, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
|Sunday, 1/23/2011, at SSDS.|
Even without instruments and microphones, the show was still a hit! It was an interesting experience adapting the show for a Shomer Shabbat audience. The kids had a larger working knowledge of both Hebrew and the bible story itself. While the limitations on instruments and microphones needed to be worked out logistically, other opportunities were available to make the show a smashing success. Because the children were aware of when we deviated from the story written in the Torah, this allowed for discussions on the topic of midrash and what can be learned from telling various versions of the same story.
Posted by Storahtelling at 2/10/2011
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
By Naomi Less, Storahtelling Director of Education and Training
6th Graders and parents encounter the Maven Method (TM)
Shaaray Tefilah (NYC)
This weeks's parsha highlights the famous "ark of the covenant" and the beautifully crafted golden cherubim that are to be placed on the cover's edges, facing each other. In that space, between the faces of the two cherubs, is where God will dwell. This was a perfect analogy for what I witnessed when facilitating an introduction to the Maven Method (TM) with 6th Graders and their parents at Shaaray Tefilah on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Through intensive, interactive and engaging work together in family teams, participants were able to find a bullseye, a main focal point, of what the story of Terumah is all about.
"If you build it, God will come!"
"God dwells in the space between two people's relationships!"
"The outside packaging can often be as important as the message inside!"
How these families converged together to find that this ancient ancient story of a blueprint can speak to us on a personal level, on a local current level and on a 2011 world-view level demonstrated that God truly dwelled in the space between.
By Daliya Karnofsky, Storahtelling Maven
A Double-Storah Spectacular: Moses in the Sky with Diamonds & Becoming Israel
Congregation Beth El, Sudbury, MA
This weekend Alex Wolfson, Franny Silverman, Emily Warshaw, and I had the pleasure of spending Shabbat with Congregation Beth El in Sudbury, Massachusetts. We were prepared to learn with and enjoy our time in an uber-educated and intellectual community, highly involved in their Jewish studies, but we had no idea just exactly how much of a treat was in store. Before Alex's and my Maven performance, "Moses in the Sky with Diamonds," on Saturday morning, we met a lively, involved, enthusiastic group of individuals with fantastic insight and a wicked sense of humor. They loved our humorous take on feminism and appreciated the questions we raised about how to take part in a democracy while still feeling our individual voices are heard.
Normally nervous for these performances, after my first line, I knew I was safe. This congregation felt like home. They were hungry for entertainment, discussion, knowledge, and a worthy forum for their astoundingly unpretentious intelligence. Sometimes our "Second Aliyah Stretch" can be a bit frightening for a community. Faced with probing questions, Mavens are sometimes met with thoughtful or simply stunned silence. Not at Beth El! This time, it felt as if it could have gone on forever. The responses ran the spectrum from humorous to well thought out to just plain bizarre. Every individual was respected and cherished in this community, called by one "a cast of characters", and the acceptance was felt. We also had a lively talkback afterwards accompanied by an amazing potluck Kiddush lunch; just another symbol of this community's generosity.
That evening, after Havdallah, we took a more performative role in our production of "Becoming Israel." Again, a lively, heartfelt talkback followed with valuable input and visible emotion. Two high energy workshops completed our weekend Sunday morning, and we were off in a car weighed down once again by Beth El's love and generosity; this time in the form of the contents of their synagogue refrigerator emptied into our willing hands. We left astounded, refreshed, bathed in love and light and intellectual curiosity from this extraordinarily warm community in the middle of the coldest season. We were incredibly fortunate to have this experience, and we thank them for sharing their home and hearts with us. This kind of family is what it's all about.
By Annie Lewis, Storahtelling Maven
A Maven Shabbaton Weekend
Temple Beth El, Boca Raton, Florida
There is a Hasidic teaching that a person should always carry two truths in his or her pockets. In one, “For my sake, the entire world was created,” and in the other, “ I am but dust and ashes.” The challenge is to know the right moment to pull each one out.
Jake Goodman and I had a weekend of revelation at Temple Beth El, in Boca Raton, Florida. We were invited to be a part of the community’ s special festivities as they began the writing of a new Torah scroll.
Friday night, we read parshat Mishpatim. As the Israelite nation arrives at Sinai, we told the story of Rachel Bat Shutelach, who nominates herself to be the 70th Elder on the Board of Elders. Elder 68 welcomes her as the first woman elder remarking, “ We have been talking about how we could use some more diversity on this board.” The words of the Torah record that everyone is present at Mount Sinai and that the people consent to the covenant with God “ in one voice.” Rachel raises her voice to question whether everybody is truly represented. As Elder 68 leads the people in the chant, “Na’aseh V’Nishmah! We will do and we will hear!” Rachel expresses doubt as to whether the people should jump into the new covenant without knowing all the details and the fine print. After all, the Israelite people are fresh out of slavery in Egypt, where they had no say over their lives, where many were no more than numbers. As Rachel makes her voice heard, Elder 68 reprimands her for getting in the way of revelation for everyone.
The community of Temple Beth El helped us to explore the tension between standing up for one’s beliefs and making one’s voice heard, and silencing oneself for the greater good. Congregants shared stories about having to sacrifice their own needs and desires as parents taking care of children and as children taking care of parents. One woman shared a familiar story about being a Jew in public school around Christmas time and making her voice heard to her choir director about the non-inclusive repertoire. One young man expressed his admiration for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the way he spoke up on behalf of himself and his people, and changed the world.
We were honored to be a part of this joyous occasion as Temple Beth El celebrated the power of Torah. We know community members will continue to make their voices heard in the telling of transformative Torah.