Monday, February 8, 2010


Just a few questions to get you started thinking about this week's parasha:
  • What is familiar in this week's Torah reading?
  • What is disturbing in this week's reading?
  • What do you find meaningful in your own life about this reading?
  • What do you think about the relationship between this week's parasha and last week's?
  • If you were forced to choose, which do you think is the most important law in this list of laws for humanity in general?  For the Jewish people in particular?  Explain your answers.
  • Create a "top ten" list of laws in this parasha, as if you were writing for Dave Letterman.  Explain your choices
  • Create a "bottom ten" list - explain your choices
  • Choose one of the commentaries from those here at My Jewish Learning that you find particularly relevant and bring it to the table for discussion with your group.

Clothes Make the Man?

A blogpost at the Lede Blog, at the NY Times, is entitled "An 'Israeli Remix' of a Palestinian Scarf".  It is the story of the creation and marketing of a keffiyeh, traditionally worn by Arab men, with Jewish and Israeli motifs.  It started me thinking about the role of clothing in expression of identity.

Big Idea:
  • People choose their clothing for many different reasons
  • First impressions of others are often based on appearance
Questions You Will Want to Ask
  • How do you decide what to wear?
  • What is your response when you see someone wearing a keffiyeh?  Why?
  • What message do you expect your appearance to convey?
  • How does  your Jewish identity influence what you wear?
Learning Activities:
  •  The Kohen Gadol wore very elaborate clothing as a symbol of his status and role in the community.  You can read about this clothing here in a commentary on Parshat Tetzaveh
  • An interesting article about Jewish clothing in the Middle Ages can be found here at My Jewish Learning
  • At you can read a history of the kippah, including an explanation of the term 'yarmulke' that may be new to you.
  • Some Jewish clothing is really bizarre - 5 pages of Jewish dog clothes?
  • There is a holiday coming up on which costumes play a big part
  • Keep a log in which you describe how what you choose to wear each day for a week expresses your identity
  • Keep a log in which you describe how something you choose to wear each day for a week expresses your Jewish identity.  How did it make you feel to do this?
  • Create a display of traditional Jewish clothing from different times and places in history
  • Make a video in which you explain items of Jewish ritual clothing (kippah, tzitzit, tallit or other) to someone unfamiliar with them
  • Design a Purim costume for yourself that expresses an aspect of your Jewish identity (you don't have to wear it, just design it!  In the U.S. it is common to wear costumes on Purim that reference Jewish heroes.  Not necessarily so in Israel.)
  • Describe your reaction to the blogpost on the 'Jewish' keffiyah. 
    • What do you think about it? 
    • Would you wear it? 
    • Do you think it is problematic to adopt another group's dress?
    • What is your thought about the reaction of others to this?