May-June: Ma’or Making Meaning

“…if we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.”
– John Dewey

The past few months have seen the culmination of several exciting and innovative programs at Ma’or. Two new courses have resulted in the students engaging with the Jewish community and moving their learning beyond the classroom, and a third elective course participated in the MIT Israeli Folk Dancing Festival.

A group of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders who elected to take the Synagogue Service Project course this year, have spent the year planning, preparing, researching and yes, painting. This was a student generated project in which they identified a need in the three member synagogues, researched and planned how to meet this need, and set about doing the project with guidance and mentoring from their teacher.

The result is that Congregation Mishkan Tefila, Temple Emeth and Temple Reyim each now have a Genizah in which to store used/worn sacred texts in preparation for burial, as is the custom. The students researched the famous Cairo Genizah and prepared an explanatory text to keep inside each Genizah. The Genizah boxes were decorated with the name of the synagogue and were presented to the Rabbis and representatives of the synagogues at a ceremony on April 12th.

Another group of Ma’or students signed up for a course on American Jewish Communities. Their project involved reaching out to people across the country with a “flat Stanley” character and a specific set of predetermined questions that the kids had developed in the classroom. The responses came from all across America and the excitement grew as the kids used a map to record each response.  A second phase of the project involved interviews with the elderly residents at Coleman House in Newton.

Both the residents of Coleman House and the Ma’or students thoroughly enjoyed the interaction. The generation gap faded away quickly, as they spent the afternoon talking about their favorite Jewish holidays and memories, and sharing their personal customs and traditions across the generations. The interviews were done both by the students and the residents, so that they could record and compare their answers. We hope that this will be the beginning of some new friendships and intergenerational collaborations.

The final research project on American Jewish Communities and the results of the study, will be shared with the school community at the end of the year.

Our talented dancers in the Ma’or Dance Troupe, once again, participated in the annual MIT Israeli Dance Festival. They collaborated with their sister troupe in Lexington to produce a fun, vibrant and energetic performance. They will be performing again at the JCC on April 23rd to share their dance with the larger community.

As our second year draws to a close, we marvel at the accomplishments of our students, the impact of their lessons on their lives, and how the Ma’or experience provides an engaging and innovative approach to Jewish education felt far beyond the classroom walls- and all this despite a snowy and stormy winter!!

Thanks to everyone in the Ma’or village for doing their part to provide a joyful and meaningful experience for our kids.

We are already planning for the next year. Please contact us at if you would like to be a part of Ma’or in any way, or to register students for the upcoming academic year.