Imagine, create, share, play

Hey dear readers! As promised, we wanted to share some of the fruits of our work during the Pesach Prep Maker Beit Midrash series. Immense gratitude to the adventurous and creative makers who comprised this first BNA Maker Beit Midrash Cohort. Their work and willingness to experiment was incredibly inspiring!

To start us off, we're so excited to share this video we produced with talented filmmaker Ellie Lobovits, which takes you inside our process at the Maker Beit Midrash.

We're also really excited to highlight two projects that you can help us test out and develop further! To that end we have two printables for you. Print them, cut out, tape or staple together and use at your seder. If you do we would LOVE so much to hear your feedback -- what worked, what didn't, how did you extend the basic idea?

Ok, to the projects... One theme we discussed in this cohort: dualities.  The big one we started with: we're supposed to inhabit an experience of leaving Egypt, and yet it's also clear that we're supposed to be seeing that experience from a birds-eye-view. 

Two chevrutot really took up the dualities theme and designed ways to actively engage with the various haggadah dualities during the seder. 

Eliezah and Andrea designed these little lift-the-flap windows that can be passed around the table, and serve as discussion prompts, either as a group or amongst seat neighbors.

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The basic framing questions: What's the connection between these things? How are they similar? How are they different? What relationship do I have with this duality?

They created felt and glitter versions, designed to be durable and fun. Your paper and staples print out version will be a bit more modest, but feel quite encouraged to color them in, add drawings, etc.

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Ariel and Aliza created duality themed mobius strips. They had initially considered linking them all, having a chain where seder participants could hold each hold a link. In the end they created individual elements that could be placed throughout the seder table. The dualities they chose are: exile/redemption; slavery/freedom; future/past; pain/praise; nation/broader world; celebration/mourning; cleaning/mess; biblical/historical; structure/flexibility.

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These mobius strips can invite seder participants to reflect together on the creative tension embedded in the seder and throughout Pesach. What is being asked of us when we're called to hold these dualities in our sights at once?

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A note about creating these mobius strips: You're gonna print them out, cut out each pair (leaving the center line intact), fold and staple. Mobius strips are a bit fiddly to get into position. I checked out this how-to, but ultimately success came just from testing it out a few times.

The other projects were inspired and amazing but slightly less sharable in print-out form. Chana Ella and Desmid created a shadow puppet theater, in which a grandparent tells the Pesach story to a grandchild, by way of shadow puppets. They created all the puppets and wrote out scripts for each scene. One interesting aspect of their work was that the shadow puppets were a lot more intricate and detailed than would be typical for that form. Desmid's response to my wondering about this: Since Chana Ella will be using this live at her seder, I wanted to really just enjoy the process of creating the components themselves, and putting a lot of care into the details 

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Now let me tell you, shadow puppets are magical, there's no two ways about it. If you feel inspired to whip up your own version, know that even something fairly simple can accomplish a lot. We got some inspiration from this how-to on the Eric Carle museum blog. The blog is worth checking out in any case if you haven't seen it yet. 

Leah was working on what got titled "The Introvert's Haggadah," which is essentially an interactive haggadah that could engage even one person one their own. (I know introverts don't only like spending time on their own. Believe me, I wave my introvert flag high, and I love being around people. Neverthless...) At any rate, the components thus far included some sort of magical decoder ring style layered dvar Torah. It was mid-way towards become manifest when the series ended, so I hope to be able to provide updates post-Pesach.

Mira and Eli were working on a few items, but the one that especially stood out was a woven basket, for people to pass around and share a blessing or wish for future blossoming. One of the themes we had tracked during the series was that some of the seder text is actually from the Bikkurim/first fruits declaration in the Temple. While we bring the first fruits at Shavuot time, we mark of the first flowers of the fruit trees in Nisan, the Jewish month that Pesach occurs in.

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Jonathan created a wire centerpiece that symbolized youth and renewal, but the group also helped him make progress on an incredible multi-layered papercut seder plate he was working on.

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Jonathan notes: These papercut seder plates are available by special order! Email him to hear more details and snag one for yourself at jvlyon@gmail.com.

Each of these projects, in their own ways, are still definitely in process. In so many ways, this is at the heart of the work that we're doing here at Beyond Noah's Ark. Tinker, create, share, tinker some more, etc. etc. etc.

Mitchel Resnick and Natalie Rusk of the MIT Lifelong Learning Kindergarten group have this great diagram in that spirit which they call the Creative Learning Spiral.

 Image courtesy of Mitchel Resnick

Image courtesy of Mitchel Resnick

Veering just a bit from their diagram, we've done the imagine and create, and now we're excited to share with you. At the seder we'll play, and then time to reflect, and dive back in to imagining.

See you on the flip side!