I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God.
At Judea Reform Congregation, our seventh grade students team up with a special group of adults. The pairs interview each other and then produce representative masks of each other. For the students, we developed a curriculum leading up to the event, and for our guests we developed tools to help build an easy connection between the students and adults.
In 2010, the students gathered with our congregation’s founders and oldest members, in honor of Judea Reform’s 50th anniversary. In 2011, the students gathered with people who work in the social justice field, both professionally and as volunteers. Next year, we hope to pair students with Jews who grew up in other countries.
Outcomes of this project are widespread:
- Connections are formed between two populations that don’t typically mix.
- Curricular content is given tangible meaning—values of tikkun olam, respecting those who came before us and the history of the synagogue are taught, learned and lived.
- Engagement with synagogue education is enriched, creating new affinities among people who might no longer have an obvious connection.
- Students see possibilities for their future.
- Adults feel recognized and honored.
- Everyone has fun.
- The congregation gets to see the masks of people they may or may not know. This has many advantages. They can be used as conversation starters, either guided by a talk from the bimah or more informally. They can also be used as part of a larger event, a synagogue publication or even a fundraising project.
While our event originates in the religious school curriculum, this model also seems appropriate for youth groups, chavurot or other special interest groups in the congregation. It can be used to promote awareness of special needs in the population or simply as a social warm-up activity.
Resources: Download the entire summary, which includes a materials list; a suggestion for preparing participants intellectually for the process; an example of the texts and the people we studied in class; and photos of some of the masks from both years.
For more information about intergenerational programming, visit these URJ web pages: