“I Feel God When I Wear A Tallit…”

What are tzitzit (fringes)? Why does God think we need reminders about commandments? How can the clothes we wear help us connect to our own personal holiness? Do you tie any strings around your fingers to make sure you remember that big, important thing? Jewish tradition doesn’t have us tie strings on our fingers, but God does instruct Bnei Yisrael (the Jewish people) to tie tzitzit (fringes) to the corners of their clothes (Numbers 15:37-41). What for? To remember God’s mitzvot (commandments), to help guide our hearts and eyes to making good choices, and to help us be holy.

Last week the Garinim (kindergartners) wrapped, dyed, and tied our way through the mitzvah (commandment) of wearing tzitzit. We practiced some of our Tefilah (prayer, music, and movement) choreography while wearing tallitot (prayer shawls) and reflected on that experience.

What was it like to put on a tallit?

  • I imagined my tallit wrapping me up in a really warm hug.
  • My tallit made me feel like an eagle.
  • Mine made me feel like a bird.
  • I felt like a ninja wearing a tallit.

 

What was it like to do tefilah while wearing a tallit?

  • Boring. I don’t want to have to spend all day feeling tzitzit.
  • I would maybe like to wear it on family days
  • I’d want it to be a choice and not an obligation to wear a tallit.
  • It feels cool! I could hardly tell it was there eventually.

Later in the week we watched a video about Cookie Monster practicing impulse control. Afterwards we brainstormed some ideas of things that can help us to wait and be patient, even when it’s hard.

  • If there’s a snack I’m not supposed to eat yet, I’ll try to eat a different snack.
  • I play a game sometimes when I have to wait.
  • I make art or draw things.
  • I might lock myself in the bathroom to wait.

What are some things that you wear (clothes or accessories) that act as reminders to you?

  • Today I have a sticker to remind me to make good choices.
  • My mask reminds me to keep space from people and stay safe because of COVID.
  • When I wear earrings they remind me to be thankful for the things I have that others maybe don’t have.
  • My fake toe reminds me that we should always help when someone gets hurt.

What do you wear to feel holy, to feel the most yourself you can feel?

  • My jaguar suit!
  • My school uniform – it’s super cozy.
  • My new shoes. They feel like a new generation because my older brother had them before me.
  • The undershirts I wear under my uniform. They keep me warm.

This week, Shorashim (1st and 2nd graders) spent shulchanot avodah (activity centers) deep in concentration as they made paper interpretations of themselves internally and externally with a variety of different clothing. Kiddos were given a paper doll template and patterned papers.

(Left to right)

Kiddo feel like themselves when they wear patterned shorts

Kiddo’s favorite hairstyle was a braid

Kiddo’s wants to be a ninja because they sneaky and get the bad guys

Kiddo LOVES cats

We started the week with a Tallit slideshow! Kiddos reviewed the anatomy of a tallit, shown different types of tallitot, and watched a video on how to wear one. Kiddos were pleasantly surprised to learn that tallitot come in so many different patterns, that you can even design your own, and that they can even tell a story. Learners inspected a tallit designed by the organization, Women of the Wall (WOW), an organization fighting for a woman’s right to wear prayer shawls, pray, and read from the Torah, collectively and aloud, at the Western Wall. 

Here’s what kids spotted:

  • Flowers
  • Hebrew words (Imahot– matriarchs Rachel, Rivkah, Sara, Leah)
  • Birds
  • Pomegranate

Kids reflected on the fact that tzitzit served as a reminder to follow God’s commandments.

Do you have a thing that reminds you of a responsibility or to make a good choice? 

  • Homework planner
  • Tiles from last week (check out this blog to see the awesome mottos kiddos created on tiles)
  • Alarm clock/timer

Each kid who wanted to, got to try on a tallit! After doing so, kids reflected that…

  • I felt god in me
  • I felt god next to me
  • I felt like i feel with my cats
  • I felt just special 
  • I felt Jewish 
  • It feels like I’m about to eat food 
  • I don’t even want to wear it
  • The cloth feels soft, it feels good. 

On Wednesday, learners read the book Fancy Nancy. Although it was silly book at first, kiddos realized that Nancy felt the most like herself when she was dressed fancy. Learners reflected on articles of clothing and accessories that made them feel connected to their holiness:

  • Jeans
  • Uniform
  • Solar system pjs
  • Skirts

On Thursday, Shorashim shared their MANY thoughts on school uniforms:

Liked:

  • Easy to put on
  • You know who goes to what school
  • Dress down days are more special

Didn’t like:

  • Can’t wear what I want
  • Uncomfortable 
  • Shirts didn’t come in long sleeved
  • You can only wear certain colors

Kids thought about why schools might implement school uniforms:

  • So you don’t get made fun of or bullied
  • Not being able to afford certain clothes

Some learners noted that when they wear their uniforms, they don’t feel like themselves, while others noted that their education and school is a part of their identity so they feel fine or indifferent wearing school uniforms.

Last week Nitzanim (3rd, 4th, and 5th-graders) explored God’s commandment to Moshe about adding tzitzit (fringes) to four cornered garments or tallitot (prayer shawls). We discussed how these four corners are supposed to represent the four corners of the world! Naturally we had to play a game of arba kanfot (four corners) in our classroom to engage with this text. Each corner was labeled with a cardinal direction and we had a blast playing. We reflected on other physical reminders that help us remember things in our daily lives. 

Here are some of those things:

  • Writing down notes helps me remember things
  • A gift that spelled the first letter of my name with mac n’ cheese boxes reminds me that it pays off to have good friends
  • A medallion I got for solving a puzzle reminds me of the hard work I put in to get it

Nitzanim also got a really engaging introduction to BMitzvah. The older kids from BMitzvah visited our class to show off all the hard work they’ve been putting in for their Rosh Pinah (cornerstone). They taught us so much about what it’s like to be in the BMitzvah program while also presenting their research about topics relating to Tefilah that they’ve been putting together. Nitzanim absorbed all this cool info and had meaningful questions and comments following their presentations. Go BMitzvah!

This week everyone has completed their sculpey items and seder plates for our showcase next Thursday! We can’t wait to show off all the things we’ve been doing this past unit. 

Speaking of showcases, our siddurim (prayer books) pages from our first showcase have been printed and laminated and added to Makom’s Shabbat siddurim. Kiddos worked together to put them together for our families to appreciate once Family Shabbat Celebrations resume. 

Next week is review week! We are intrigued to see which parts of our Holy Me unit had stayed with kiddos. Nitzanim is also so excited to welcome their parents to the Unit 2 Showcase on Thursday, February 10. Check your email for your paperless post invitation!

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