Discovering the Treasures of Our Past… and Making Jewish History Come Alive

Elementary and Middle school students have embarked on a new, cross-curricular assignment that will use writing and art to explore Jewish history, and those who kept the flame of Judaism alive throughout the ages.

This assignment, which will culminate in the TDSP Jewish Museum, a multi-grade art and history exhibit, was designed by Dr. Malka Ungar, in collaboration with art teacher Mrs. Naomi Weintraub.

Dr. Ungar said the idea came to her after seeing young-reader Jewish history books published by Menucha Publishers.

“It’s for kids to tap into their heritage and connect with their Jewish history, especially the immigrant piece, which ties it all together,” said Dr. Ungar. “As the generations go on we get less in touch with our immigrant story.”

The assignment is being done by third through fifth grade boys, and third through 8th grade girls. Each class has a different reading assignment, writing assignment, and art project. Third grade, for example, will read about Torah builders, and will make a mosaic on the mirror wall of the multi-purpose room.  Fourth grade will be looking at Jewish life in Europe, and their art project will be an Alef Bais Metal creation. 8th grade girls will be interviewing family members about their immigrant stories, and they will be making a presentation around meaningful family artifacts and heirlooms.

Once the classes have completed their projects, parents will be invited to attend the TDSP Jewish Museum in mid-march, where all the projects will be on display.

“This is an opportunity for our students to connect with their heritage while learning research skills and exploring how to express their creativity through art,” said Dr. Ungar.

In the process of finding family artifacts and heirlooms, the students are discovering interesting facts and stories about their ancestors. 8th grader Mimi Goldstein’s heirloom is a cameo brooch that belonged to her great-great-grandmother. Her ancestor was from Europe, and she was known to be a feisty woman. One time a marauding army was set to invade her village. Mimi’s great-great-grandmother grabbed her nine-tailed whip and set out to meet the army. The general took one look at her and turned around. He didn’t want to mess with her!

Another interesting heirloom was the besamim box that Tehilla Shor’s great-grandfather made. He was a copper smith, and the besamim box is made of copper.

The entire assignment is designed to inspire the students to think about the people who came before them, and the sacrifices they made to keep Judaism alive.

“I want the children to realize that they come from a mesorah (a tradition),” said Dr. Ungar.