Thursday, May 03, 2012

Got Balz? Coming of Age with baseball, bagels, and mambo

היום ששה ועשרים יום שהם שלשה שבועות וחמשה ימים לעומר
Today is twenty-six days, which is three weeks and five days of the omer
הוד שבנצח
A day of humility in a week of perseverance

I have a curriculum called "The Kabbalah of Jewish Identity" that I use in my class of 7th & 8th graders. It will come as no surprise that I created this during last year's omer period :) I use the bottom seven sephirot--the same ones we use to count the omer--as a hook to discuss different aspects of what it means to be a Jew. For humility, I first give them each two cards which the rabbis (which ones depends on who you ask :) say you should always have with you--one saying "For my sake, the world was created"; the other saying "I am but dust and ashes" The they learn about Hank Greenberg and Sandy Kofax--two Hall of Fame baseball players who faced the decision of whether or not to play in the World Series on Yom Kippur. Although neither one was an observant Jew, they opted not to play. They knew how important it was to the American Jewish community that they were a part of to honor that ritual. As big as they were in their professions, as important a moment they were facing--they understood the humility of being a part of something bigger.

Once again, the venn diagram aspect of my communities comes into play. On the day of humility where I get to intersect my Jewish world and my baseball world, my friend and video/film worlds join the overlap. My friends Marcia Jarmel & Ken Schneider, award-winning filmmakers who I met because of my video profession, are finishing a film made with their son Micah documenting his bar mitzvah project of bringing baseball gear to teens in Cuba. The Cuba connection is not just one of need, but a place that is a part of Micah's grandfather's Holocaust rescue story. And it is not just a coming of age story, not just a Holocaust survival story, but it is a story that can reach our youth about their Jewish identity. But rather than me tell you about it, watch the video below.

The film is almost done, but there is still finishing work to be done so this piece can go out into the world. I know I will be using this in my classroom, sharing this bar mitzvah story with the b'nei mitzvah of the future. Please click here for more information and share this with anyone you think may be interested.

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