I am instructed to design a program for ten children who are going to be bar/bat mitzvahed this year. The program is meant to instruct them about Judaism in greater depth and intensity.
The purpose of this program is to help these children explore their Jewish identity and to enhance their understanding and commitment to Jewish culture, law, and ritual. I want to impart information about and strengthen their attachment to the Jewish people. A second purpose of the program is to help them share their feelings and experiences as a group as they prepare for their bar/bat mitzvah. All of this must be age appropriate as well.My proposed outcomes are:
The program will meet every Wednesday from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m., once a month on Shabbat, and a full weekend in April.
I know that it will be difficult to keep the children's attention for this long a period, given that they have school and many outside activities. I hope their parents will be supportive in this. I will have to check on school schedules (exams, assignments, etc.) so they do not interfere. I will also check the Jewish calendar to make sure I have not planned events on holidays or interfered with other events at the synagogue. I may have to reformulate some of the curriculum, depending on the schedules of guest lecturers or trip availability. Also, I must make sure that all teaching and experiences are handled at a level that the children can understand.
I have planned next Wednesday's schedule to teach about Torah. I plan to have the children look at pictures of different Torahs and read about and discuss the discovery of the Torahs after the Holocaust. I want them to get a sense that the Torah they will read at their service is the same as the one Moses read. I feel this will connect them with the importance of tradition. I have thought about taking them into the sanctuary to lift the Torah, unscroll it, etc., but they may be too noisy in there and may distract the other Hebrew classes. Will they get the same experience from looking at pictures and discussions in the classroom as they would from going into the sanctuary and actually handling the Torah? How do I decide what is a better trade-off: dealing with possible disciplinary problems in the sanctuary or having them experience the “real thing?” Also, how much reading can be expected of these children? In addtion, some of the members of the congregation may not like children handling the Torah. Do I need to tell anyone before I schedule this, if I decide this experience is necessary?
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