The Language of Our Mezuzot - Nursery Students Study Judaica
The BZ Nursery Team
So much of Judaism involves being present in the moments and rituals of our daily lives, something our Nursery students are especially attuned to. Recently, Nursery students were introduced to the mezuzah, the special ritual item that hangs in entryways in Jewish homes and in our classrooms. They looked closely at different mezuzot, noticing their similarities and differences, what makes them unique for each family's home, and wondering about the different stories each mezuzah has to tell. As they reflected, it was so exciting to hear the children share their own connections to a mezuzah in their homes and how proud they are to have them. 

Our Nursery students then heard a story about how the Shema prayer is rolled up inside a mezuzah and that the word “shema” means to listen. We began practicing the shhhhh-mmm-aaahh meditation as we walked, first touching two fingers to our lips, then to our temples, then pointing them up to the sky. 

It became evident that a more deeper exploration into mezuzot sparked a strong interest by the students and our Nursery class embarked on a family and community mezuzah study. Together with their families, they looked throughout their homes for mezuzot adorning their doorways. We did the same thing in the hallways of our school! Teachers and students' families shared special stories and photos of their own family mezuzot with the class.

The investigation of the significance of the mezuzah continued in a very tactile way as each child began to create a mezuzah for their home. The children first sanded the wooden mezuzot, then decorated them using a variety of art mediums to make beautiful, colorful, mosaicked pieces. Finally, a scroll with the Shema prayer will be carefully rolled and placed in each mezuzah. The students will then be able to take these special ritual items home to hang in a doorway.  

In our Reggio inspired approach to learning in Early Childhood, we believe strongly in integrating the Hundred Languages approach to learning and weaving it seamlessly into our explorations of Judaism. Therefore, our explorations did not end with the sharing of stories, images, and unique creations of our own mezuzot
The students are also making a community mezuzah for the nature playground out of reclaimed wood from a shed that used to stand on that very playground. At our Parent Breakfast, parents will also have a chance to contribute. Additionally, they are crafting mezuzot as thank yous for some of our classroom helpers throughout the year. With Mr. Todd and Morah Rena, the students sang the prayer, "V'ahavta", which is the continuation of the Shema for the mezuzot, more deeply embodying what it means to love with all of our hearts, all of our souls, and all of our might. This prompted Morah Rena to ask the students the question “What would you put in your mezuzah to show love?” with students answering “the sun,” “rainbows,” “a heart,” and “a statue with all of my family.” 

This exploration and wondering is alive, active, sacred, and ongoing work, a gift we hope our students leave our Nursery classroom with and carry with them throughout their Bernard Zell years of learning. 

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