Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Special Davis Tradition

Let's do a little activity. Without reading ahead, see if you can figure out what the items on this list have in common:

Star Wars Figurines
Cupcake Shaped and Scented Candles
Sand Art
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A Tree Branch
The Beach
Tootsie Rolls
Clay Planets
A Rolling Pin
The Michigan Wolverines
The Atlanta Falcons 

The answer? These are a few of the items, themes, and ideas that this year's 1st grade students and parents brought to our annual 1st Grade Chanukiah Making Program. Were it not for the creativity and imagination of our students and families I think it's fair to say that the above list might never have been compiled. 

Tradition and Creativity, Chanukah 2016

On the one hand, Chanukiah Making is a fairly straightforward project for a Jewish educational setting. But if you observe this 1st grade tradition with a more critical eye, it turns out that there's quite a bit going on. 

First, there's the balance of tradition and innovation. We spend a lot of time balancing tradition and innovation at Davis. In this case we ask that our students and families bring their creative and innovative ideas to the traditional Jewish ritual object of the Chanukiah. 

Next, there's the Jewish identity component. Not only is there a spirit of creativity and innovation surrounding this project, but that creativity is channeled through the unique personality and identity of each child. In looking at the Chanukiot it's easy to see who the die hard Falcons fans are, whose parents went to school in Ann Arbor, who loves playing outdoors, and who loves building Legos. Projects like this help kids see how Judaism can unite different aspects of their identities and help them live fully integrated lives. 

Lastly (for now), there's the diversity aspect. In my 9 years at The Davis Academy I can honestly say that I've never seen two identical Chanukiot. Sure there've been more than a few Frozen-themed ones and more than a couple SEC-themed ones as well. But the honest truth is that these Chanukiot are like our children themselves-- unique creations in the world. When you take a look at them all gathered together you can see how they fit together, but you can also see the unique spirit, story, and personality of each. 

Happy Chanukah! If you're reading this as one of the participating 1st grade families, please assess the level of flammability of your creative Chanukiah before lighting it!

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