Ritual and Connection

This week we studied the Shema. We considered what it means to be charged with the mitzvot (opportunity to connect) of Shema. We thought all about rituals and mantras that support us in our everyday lives and worked together to come up with ways to enhance our experience doing repetitive rituals. 

After coming up with a definition of mantra “something we say over and over to help us understand something” kiddos explored different personal mantras which they wrote across their own collaged mirror creations. We each considered what mantra would support us in our personal journeys.

Learners came up with amazing ideas: 

“You can stick with it.” 

“Love and friend” 

“Funny, Nice, Knowledgeable” 

“Makom is a welcoming place to be you.” 

When exploring the Shema, students explained what the prayer means to them: 

  • Sometimes the Shema gets stuck in my head so I say it over and over.
  • It makes me think of peace.
  • It means we are all echad! (one)
  • God’s heart is beating. We say the Shema to listen, and it helps us to love God.

We considered that meditating on the Shema is a ritual that we do everyday at Makom during Tefillah. Kiddos investigated the various rituals in their everyday life and we brainstormed what we can do to make ritual experiences feel holy. 

One learner pointed out that we can tune into the reason we are doing something in the first place. We brush our teeth “because it helps us be healthy.” We walk to Makom “because it helps you learn.” 

Another kiddo suggested that we can beautify the ritual. When putting away our backpacks we can place them into a cubby that is decorated with things we love. When having dinner we can put something nice on the table. 

“What else can we do to make the ritual of walking to Makom holy?” I asked. One learner suggested, “We can notice the dogs on the way and appreciate the time we are spending with our friends!” We were able to put this kavanah (intention) into action this week! On our walk to Makom I asked students to notice things that they deemed praiseworthy. When we saw something that fit the bill students would point to it and proclaim “ashrei” (happy)! 

It has been wonderful to see kiddos putting their learning into action this week as they think about the ways ritual supports them every day. Next week, we will be learning about the mitzvah of Tzitzit


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