For the past two parsha cycles (5779 and 5780), we have produced a weekly Covenant & Conversation: Family Edition to accompany the main essay. These can all be found here.
For 5781, we are going to try something a little different. Instead of a weekly Family Edition connected to the parsha, my team, working with a wonderful Jewish educator Dr. Daniel Rose, are going to be producing a series entitled ‘Ceremony & Celebration: Family Edition’. Using the same educational format, this will distill some of the key ideas from my teachings around the chaggim, making them engaging for older children and teenagers, and encourage further discussion around your Yom Tov table.
If you want to watch an introductory video about the project and learn more about its pedagogic construction, please scroll down. Otherwise, please click on the images to download the PDF resource sheets for the relevant chag.
In the elemental Jewish prayer, the shema, we read every day of the imperative to educate our children:
“Teach them to your children and speak of them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Devarim 6:7)
From this short verse many fundamental lessons about Judaism’s approach to education can be found. Firstly, we learn that the education of children is primarily the responsibility of the parent before anyone else. Secondly, Jewish education is not confined to the classroom only. Jewish education can and must be present in every aspect of life, inside the home and out, from the moment you wake until the moment you sleep.
But it is the words “when you stay at home” that resonate with us the most, perhaps today more than ever before. Parents and guardians are finding themselves taking a more central role in the education of their children during this period, as we find ourselves spending more time than ever before in the home.
For the last two years, the widely acclaimed Covenant & Conversation Family Edition has enriched family education around the shabbat table, helping families connect to and discuss the weekly parsha. Taking our resources for family education to the next level, we are proud to share with you Ceremony & Celebration: Family Edition. Based on the writings and thought of Rabbi Sacks on the festivals, Ceremony & Celebration: Family Edition has been expertly compiled by Dr. Daniel Rose Ph.D (who worked on both the “Ten Paths to God” curriculum project and Covenant & Conversation: Family Edition). Each Jewish festival is explored in turn, following a similar structure to the Covenant & Conversation: Family Edition, with many of the familiar educational elements that have enriched Jewish education in the homes of families around the world.
How it works
Each element of Ceremony & Celebration: Family Edition is designed to engage the different ages found in your family. In A Nutshell gives a brief overview of the themes of the festival, providing a thematic overview of the festival, appropriate for secondary school ages and up. This section has three “Points to Ponder” questions, to help stimulate a general discussion on the festival.
The Chag and Me is the most sophisticated section, aimed at teenagers and beyond. Based on the thoughts and writings of Rabbi Sacks, often taken from the introductory essay from the Koren Machzorim, the meaning of the festival for us in the twenty-first century is presented, with opportunities for reflection and meditation, through reflection questions and thought activities.
Deep Diving into the Tefillah of the Day takes a central prayer from the liturgy of the festival and explores it using the commentary of Rabbi Sacks from the Koren Machzorim or the Koren Siddur. There are three “Points to Ponder” questions to stimulate a general discussion on the festival. This section is also for teenagers and older.
Finally, For the Young (& Young at Heart) is a fun final section for younger ages. It contains Top Ten Facts on the festival, It Once happened on the Chag… – a story for the festival (including “Points to Ponder” to generate discussion), and a Chidon on the Chag (a Quick Quiz).
Finally, suggested answers to the Points to Ponder discussion questions, as well as the answers to the Chidon on the Chag are found in the Educational Companion to the Questions section found at the end.