These were just some of the visual challenges a group of 80 eight-graders from the Hillel Day School of Detroit were confronted with at a Kol HaOt session on May 15 in Jerusalem, where they depicted both Jewish values and Biblical scenes.
“It was remarkable to see how quickly the children engaged in serious learning and in the hands-on projects,” noted Rabbi Matt Berkowitz, one of Kol HaOt’s facilitators, and a founder of the organization. “Their enthusiasm and energy was contagious, and the experience demonstrates the transformative power of Kol HaOt’s programs.”
The group was divided into two; in the program “Mentschmaker, Mentschmaker, Make Me a Mentsch” the students explored the middot (qualities) of Compassion, Truth, Humility, Justice, Holiness, Gratitude and more. Through paired and small group learning, they discussed a specific value, and the role it plays in their personal life. By the time the session was done, the participants had created their own folder, identifying their own middah, with their own poem and visual collage.
“The students took up the challenge with enthusiasm, grace, creativity and talent, and presented to each other their new and amazing creations, made in Jerusalem!” Rabbi Berkowitz recalled.
The second group immersed itself in the Kol HaOt program “From Text to Symbol.” During the session, they studied Exodus 19 and 20, in which the Children of Israel stand at Mount Sinai; then they identified the most important 10 elements in the story, and assigned them different colors. The result was a remarkable mural they created that reflected a powerful and animated visual interpretation of the story.
By engaging in this hands on piece, the narratives of Exodus 19 and 20 became unforgettable experiences for the Hillel Day School students, who then presented their murals to the entire group. The response was both heartening and inspiring.
Noted Rabbi Berkowitz: “It was clear that it was a new, innovative approach for teachers and students alike. . . . and of course, the magic of this happening in Jerusalem makes the experience all the more invaluable!”