What can we learn from the relationship between Moshe and God? This is the question that our Anafim (5th-7th grade) students have been mulling over since the beginning of the year. In the texts we have been discussing, Moshe asks God for Their help in leading the Jewish people. He also asks God to show him Their splendor, so that Moshe can more deeply connect with God.. The motifs of asking others for help and revealing parts of ourselves in order to form deeper connections have permeated our text studies and how we are building our shared learning space. The kids showcased their hard work and deep learning of text by leading textploration at the Makom Community retreat as well as the Anafim family program.
During Saturday morning tefilah (services) at the retreat, our voices mixed with the sounds of early fall wind, filtering through the colorful leaves around us. I felt the power of tradition and community as we sang the songs that our ancestors have been singing for generations. All the while we formed new bonds with one another. In order to carry on the tradition of Torah study, the Anafim students facilitated conversations about the Torah reading. The kids led the families in discussions about community-building, second chances, and vulnerability. Even though it was our first time leading a text study like this, the Anafim took charge and were armed with thought-provoking questions to keep the discussion going.
The following Wednesday, the Anafim parents joined us at our Center City location to bring in families who weren’t with us at the retreat into this important conversation about showing up for one another and asking others for what we need. Here are some examples of the questions the Anafim students asked:
- Now that you have thought about God’s relationship with Moshe, relate that to your own relationships with family and friends. How do they compare?
- Do you act more like God (the leader) or Moshe (the follower) or both in your life?
- How does it make you feel when you get a second chance?
- If you were Moshe, how would you go about asking for the help you need?
By leading discussions about Torah and its relevance to our lives at every stage, the Anafim students were part of an ongoing chain of interpreting Torah. Here, at Makom, we encourage our learners and their families to engage with Jewish texts in a way that feels relevant to them and supports our growth. In watching the Anafim learn alongside their families, I felt a connection to the generations of Jewish people that engaged in this meaning-making before us.