Weber teacher Linda Parmet, Hebrew Content Dean and Director of Hebrew Curriculum and Interdisciplinary Jewish Studies, is taking an innovative approach to Jewish Studies in her "Torah, Toolkits, and Power Tools" class, where traditional Jewish studies is interwoven with creative design and visual arts, to emphasize deep textual analysis, personal expression, and artistic creation. Discover more about this unique approach through Linda Parmet's appearance on the Prizmah Podcast
and explore the class's creative journey in this interactive visual presentation
Initially, the class utilized TIA Educational Toolkits—interactive programs combining artwork and activities created by world-renowned artist David Moss —to explore Jewish texts and values. Over time, as the course grew from an elective to a core Jewish Studies class, it deepened its focus on text study and personal expression and evolved to include personal portfolios and a broader spectrum of creative expression.
At the heart of this class is the seamless integration of Jewish texts and contemporary issues brought to life through creative mediums. Students embark on a journey that begins with exploring values, ideas, or texts from Jewish studies, predominantly focusing on biblical texts and commentaries. Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz, Vice President of The Schechter Institutes, Inc. and co-founder of Kol Haot, a Jerusalem-based venture devoted to exploring the arts and Jewish learning, leads the deep text study sessions with students emphasizing critical thinking.
In this class, students blend traditional education with creative expression to articulate their understanding. For instance, the story of the midwives in Egypt defying orders to kill firstborn sons serves as a starting point for discussions on moral courage, bystander responsibility, and contemporary issues like bullying. The concept of Shabbat and the essence of time is explored by creating meticulously crafted cutting boards. Ms. Parmet elaborates, “Students' creations go beyond simply reflecting the text. They represent their personal ideas and how these ideas connect to the text and to themselves. The design process is rigorous, involving multiple art proposals, peer collaboration for feedback, and refinement of their final concepts. This extends to practical skills like woodworking, where the journey begins with purchasing wood and culminates in a beautifully crafted final product.” Writing the artist's statement, while challenging, offers immense rewards as students articulate the evolution of their ideas and their creative process. This holistic approach ensures that students not only gain insights into Jewish texts and values but also hone skills in spatial thinking, iterative design, and self-expression.