Exploring Jewish Heritage though Supernatural Creatures

November 2020 – In Ms. Rubenstein’s Jewish studies classes, fourth and fifth graders recently started an exploration of Jewish heritage and history through the various “supernatural” creatures present in Jewish traditions. In this project-based learning exploration, students will answer the question: How do Jewish monsters teach us about our Jewish Heritage?

Each student chose a creature in Jewish text or Jewish culture to research – Golems, Leviathan, Ibburs, Angels, etc. They will research the history, stories, purpose, and function of their creature within Jewish life and its connection to Jewish values. Then, they will use this information to create a creature that would fit into what they see as Jewish heritage. This creature will have a story, Jewish values, and Jewish historical context.

In conjunction with Makerspace and Art, students will build a model of their creature. They will incorporate Hebrew through the description of their monster, and within the model itself. Their final product will be a presentation in which they share their research, their monster, and their case for how the creature would teach us about Jewish heritage. One of the most exciting aspects of this project is the student voice and choice within it and that it stemmed from their interest in Jewish monsters. Students engage in this study in an authentic way; through learning about Jewish history and stories, they develop a deeper understanding of Jewish values and the place of these “supernatural” creatures in a larger context of Judaism.