“Is God good?”
“What does God want from humanity?”
Not the simplest questions to ponder on a Tuesday night, but our BMitzvah cohort and their parents dove in with open hearts. Following the theme of our current Rosh Pinah project, we focused on our questions about God. Our first activity exposed some of our conflicting feelings.
We wrestled with those concepts through tefillah, with the BMitzvah cohort leading the davening. Starting with our daily blessings, where we translated the concept of B’tzelem Elohim (being made in the divine image) to include seeing God in others. We expressed this physically through a fun mirroring exercise.
After the Amidah, we stepped out into the alley for a little taste of hitbodedut, a solo Jewish meditation practice that we studied in class. When we came back together, Sarah commented that this was the first opportunity she’d had in her day to really pause.
We brought these sensations of calm and pause to our next text-based activity. Each cohort member represented God from a different section of Tanakh, explaining their views on how God acted and why God made certain choices. The parents asked questions of the God representatives and wrote down the new perspective they learned on our opening activity sheets. Jesse reflected that he was surprised by some of the answers he got as they revealed the assumptions he made in his questions. Ronia explained that each question she was asked sharpened her understanding of the text and made her next conversation more rich.
With a thorough grounding in our thoughts on God, we transitioned to giving and receiving feedback on the cohort’s current Rosh Pinah projects. They are working on artistic projects created from their own ideas about God. We set up ground rules for the group to make sure those giving feedback avoided trying to dictate what the project should look like. Each BMitzvah kid got feedback from other parents, then from their own parents. We love how much Family Learning Experience allows families to learn from each other!
Once our feedback sessions were done, we split the group into two conversations. I (Miryam) talked to the students about the feedback they’d gotten and how they intended to utilize it to craft their final projects. Ronia was inspired to go deeper and show more aspects of God in her gallery of drawings. Zahdi is considering changing the angle of her drawing to give a different perspective. Remi and Zoey are reflecting on how they might enhance the performance of their poem and songs including costuming, dance moves, and other elements.
Beverly led a conversation with the parents about how that guided feedback went. The parents were very interested in bringing this feedback system home as a way to invest in their relationships with their children. Our BMitzvah cohort has been talking since Family Learning Experience about what ground rules we can set up together to make that regular feedback a success!
In the end, no one is safe from feedback, not even God. Our final thoughts included musing about how we might be able to give feedback to God.
“Is God changeable or fixed?”
“Does the idea of B’tzelem Elohim change who you think God is? Who we are?”
“How can I relate to the God that I want? How can I relate to the me that I want?”
While we’ll never fully answer these questions, pondering them together across generations is a great start!