What a thrill to experience this dream of study and chevrutah creation within a community of makers come to life!
This Maker Beit Midrash section will be a place where you can get an in depth look at what we're learning and working on as the Pesach Prep series progresses. We're also hoping some folks might join us in creating from afar -- convince a friend to be your maker hevrutah (creative partner), learn the texts, and get to tinkering! If you do please share picture of your work with us! Send any images and explanations to firstname.lastname@example.org, or share on our Facebook page!
We kicked off the first session of our 6 session Pesach Prep maker series with introductions from cohort participants (such shining wonderfully interesting people, all!), and an overview of Beyond Noah's Ark's mission and values.
We then broke into hevrutah pairs to study our central text for the evening, and the central biblical text that the Pesach Haggadah is based around. Deuteronomy/Devarim 26:1-11 is a concise retelling of the story of redemption from Egypt and the first Passover. It is also the Biblical formula to be recited by a farmer bringing first fruits (Bikkurim) to the ancient Temple in Jerusalem on the holiday of Shavuot.
Why, we wondered, was this the text chosen for the central Maggid section of the seder? What's the significance of drawing upon a collection of verses that are located in future from the perspective of the seder, as opposed to those from Exodus/Sh'mot, that present a more present-tense version of the story.
We also took a quick look at the Mishnah in Pesachim 116b, which we'll look at in greater depth during the second session. This Mishna contains the central spiritual posture of the seder -- that we are each enjoined to see ourselves as having personally left Egypt. What resources or experiences might help to further our ability to feel that we are, in this generation, at this time, in our lives, leaving Egypt?
After some really interesting discussion as a group, we were ready to turn to the art and tinkering portion of the evening. Unlike how the other sessions will be, everyone was invited to work on one specific type of interactive object, the cardboard automata, as a foundation for creating and following a thread of inquiry b'hevrutah (paired/in a creation team). This provided a shared and hopefully fairly comfortable project to begin experimenting from.
The Exploratorium just closed an exhibit on the most wondrous intricately crafted automata.
They developed a do-it-yourself explanation sheet for creating cardboard automata, and we used that as a roadmap to help guide us.
All that having been said, a number of hevrutas ended up interpreting the prompt in quite diverse ways. Eliezah was hard at work on a complex system of automata levers out of which she was constructing an opening and closing red sea. Desmid was following the thread of personal history by creating an enclosed Torah scroll, upon which she handwrote her father's life journey.
Mira and Jonathan followed the straightforward automata path to arrive at a poignant encapsulation of the Jewish people's cycles of redemption and exile.
Andrea and Laya, and Aliza and Sarah were in the midst of constructing some very interesting looking contraptions when we paused our work until the next session.
When we pick up at session two we'll hear a recap of what everyone worked on last session, and meet the handful of new people that are joining the group. We'll learn some more text together as a group and b'hevrutah and we'll match up into the hevrutah pairs that we'll hope to stay in for the next five sessions. The main task set before each hevrutah is to choose a thread of inquiry, a particular question they'd like to explore with regard to Pesach, and then investigate how to bring those explorations to life in visual, accessible form.
As we begin our tinkering we'll consider a variety of possibilities for interactive objects, interesting storytelling devices, etc. as potential frames for creating.
Some on the list so far:
Kavaad: A traditional Indian unfolding storytelling box
Shadow puppet theater
All sorts of other paper engineering storytelling ideas
Whew. And with that, adieu & shalom for now. Can't wait to check back in after tonight's session. Excited and nervous for the hevrutah pairs to solidify. We'll spell out in a bit more detail in the next post why doing this work b'hevrutah is a key component of the vision.
Until then, happy tinkering!