What goes into a Mezuzah?

mez pro 3 What goes into a mezuzah? Just ask an AARC Beit Sefer (Religious School) student! On April 26th and Mary 3rd, AARC member and Beit Sefer mom Marcy Epstein led an all-school mezuzah making workshop. The students learned about the difference between the mezuzah case and the scroll inside, and how we have come to name each part as the mezuzah. They discussed why and how Jewish homes have mezuzot on our door frames and demonstrated the ritual of kissing the mezuzah both entering and exiting the rooms of our homes. The students explored the letter Shin and many of the words that it represents, and then they learned about the prayer on the mezuzah scroll, the Shema and the V’ahavta. Marcy shared how these two prayers became so important that we would want them ever present in our homes.mez pro 4

The students rolled out their airdry clay and formed them into beautiful original cases, working with shapes and wood pieces for texture. Then Marcy and the teachers made the letter Shin for each child and set their mezuzot cases to dry, reminding them that over the week they might think about what prayer they would like to say while entering and exiting their bedrooms. The next week, the kids painted and embellished their beautiful cases. They then copied the Hebrew of the Shema and first words of the V’ahavta onto origami paper “scrolls” along with their own original prayers and set them inside the mezuzah cases to make their personalized mezuzot. By adding their own prayers to the scroll in the mezuzah, the students learned about Jewish “lifehacks,” explained by Rabbi James Brandt, director of the Jewish Federation of the East Bay in a January 2015 Jewish Week article “as this generation’s equivalent of ‘do-it-yourself Judaism,’ represented by the groundbreaking 1973 publication of the The First Jewish Catalog (co-edited by Michael Strassfeld), which offered a model of creating Jewish life ‘outside the official system.’”

mez pro 1Marcy hopes that our families might share a mezuzah hanging with the kids, not only so they can know where on the door frame to look for a mezuzah, but also to celebrate their warming embrace of the ancient ways with modern import reflective of their lives.

So, if you ask the students at the AARC Beit Sefer, you might find that in addition to the shema on a scroll, what goes into a mezuzah case is love, care, creativity, and their own heartfelt (or silly, but definitely personal) prayers.mez pro 2

 

Beit Sefer Tzedakah Project

By Rebecca Ball

Photos by Sara Goldshlack

Beit Sefer

Being new to the AARC Beit Sefer, and to attending a Beit Sefer in general, my family and I weren’t necessarily sure what to expect this year. We have not been disappointed! The learning and camaraderie and overall fun that my sons have experienced has been so positive. I am extremely impressed by all the thought and work that has been put into the curriculum and activities the students are enjoying.

One activity in particular that has been quite rewarding has been the school-wide Tzedakah Project. For this project, the students decorated their own tzedakah boxes to bring home. They earned money at home by doing chores and other tasks for their parents. The students discussed in class the things they did to earn the money, such as making dinner for the family or shoveling snow or cleaning their rooms. After several weeks of earning money, the students brought in their boxes and voted on the agency to which they would donate. They chose the Humane Society of Huron Valley, and were proud to discover that they had raised over $125 for the animals! Beit Sefer Tzed project

The school then had a volunteer from the Humane Society come to visit with an adoptable dog. She described to the students the programs and supplies towards which the students’ money would go. The children had the chance to pet the dog and learned about showing compassion towards animals. Many were even interested in learning how to volunteer at the facility. The authentic, real-world experience that this project provided helped our young people to live the experience of tzedakah rather than merely hearing about it. Giving tzedakah is a righteous act in Judaism, simple justice and possibly the most enlightened of all the commandments. Our Beit Sefer has beautifully illustrated this joyful obligation for our children.