HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal

A Word from the Editor

by Dr. Barbara Davis Issue: The Arts in Jewish Education

Judaism and the arts have always had a complicated relationship. Whether it be an avoidance of drama because of ecclesiastical connotations, a rejection of vocal music if it included kol isha, the voice of a woman, or the absence of figurative representations in art due to the prohibition of graven images, the arts have historically received shorter shrift in Jewish pedagogy than other subjects.

As Jewish culture has evolved, however, the arts have increasingly come into play as vital expressions of Jewish thought and spirituality. In our schools also, there has been a renaissance of creative Jewish exploration of the visual and performing arts, as well as new media, as a means of increasing students’ understanding of the roots of our faith and the many ways in which this faith can be expressed.

This issue of HaYidion will allow you to explore these new avenues of learning for your students. The collection of articles is broad and far-ranging and will provide you with some fascinating glimpses into the talents and creativity of the programming in our RAVSAK schools. Whether you are seeking to initiate or deepen your current arts curricula, or whether you are looking for innovative and stimulating new directions to take, this issue offers background, concrete examples, and guidance and support.

The holiday of Shavuot celebrates the harvest of the first fruits, which were cut and placed in baskets woven of gold and silver, laden onto oxcarts decorated with flowers and led in a grand procession to Jerusalem, accompanied by music. This arts issue likewise celebrates joyously the work of our children’s hands and the harvest of the creativity of the farmers of our people’s future: the teachers in our Jewish community day schools. We are sure you will find it fruitful and enjoyable reading. ♦

Dr. Barbara Davis is the Secretary of RAVSAK, Editor of HaYidion and Head of School at the Syracuse Hebrew Day School in Dewitt, NY. Barbara can be reached at shds@twcny.rr.com

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The Arts in Jewish Education

With innovation recognized as a premium for all education, the arts need to be taken more seriously, plumbed for pedagogy and curriculum, and integrated into the classroom across the curriculum. The arts represent distinct disciplines with their own histories and methods. For Jewish studies, they offer a vehicle for student interpretation, a different entry point into Jewish text and tradition.

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