Hide and seek

Vayetze Sketches

There's something I've been keeping from you. But I don't want it to be under wraps forever.

Before I started this blog I had ideas for four specific kinds of Judaica products that I wanted to make. But during a meeting with Rabbi Dr. Michael Shire, whom I mentioned to you in the previous post -- we'll be hearing lots more about his work soon! -- he confirmed something that I had intuited, but was until that point trying to ignore.

He said, you might make these products. You might apply for and receive funding from some foundation, or run a Kickstarter campaign, and then sit at your desk and create these items and put them out into the world. But (he said) if one of your main goals is the experiential educational existential (any other big e- words we can fit in here?) value behind these objects (as in fact it is, dear reader!) then you'll need much more clarity on exactly what your educational objectives are, and how this might be achieved in toy form, before you begin creating any specific object or other.

Which brings us back to this whole process of discovery that we're doing right here on this blog, together, and for the moment, to Rev. Berryman and Godly Play.

Berryman defines six objectives of the Godly Play approach, that together help children achieve fluency in "the art of using the language of [] tradition to encounter God and find direction for their lives" (Berryman, 1995, p.17) Are we all hearing how revolutionary this is? The goal is not that the children should come to believe certain core beliefs. Nor is it that the children should memorize foundational religious content. The goal is that the children should have such command of the foundational content and language of the religion that they can use it skillfully and confidently to construct meaning that is appropriate for their own lives. Gevald! Amazing!

In the next few posts we'll take a look at the six objectives that Godly Play works with, and consider how these might inform our thoughts around children's Judaica for use in the home.

As for those items that I mentioned, the ones I'm keeping under wraps, I really do hope that I get to share them with you eventually, once this process of distillation and discernment is further along. That too will provide an opportunity for reflection and most importantly, play, as we investigate whether the objects and toys do indeed achieve the goals we set for them. But, since I can't resist getting started already, I'll be posting a sketch -- illustrations from each week's Torah portion, from work on one of the items -- every so often as the header to posts here on the blog. And, lets have a little game to go with: try to identify as many of the scenes as you can, and post your answers in the comments. The most correct answers wins you a coveted congratulations shout-out in the next post. Let the games begin!

Berryman, J. (1995). Teaching Godly play: The Sunday morning handbook. Nashville: Abingdon Press