On the evening of March 30th, days before the Passover Holiday, family members of The Toronto Heschel Grade 5 students gathered in the Heschel gym to witness their dramatized Living Haggadah production. While the production was an integrated project that spanned all of the disciplines, the main narratives reflected the Hebrew language learning and thus a large portion of the play was dramatized in fluent Hebrew!
The generative topic, מיהו היוצא מעבדות לחרות? המבחין בנס ועונה לקראתו – ‘To travel the path from slavery to freedom we must recognize signs and take action’ – was the theme of the Living Haggadah production, where the students studied texts whose heroes embody this directive. The texts included the Torah portion of Shemot – where the Jewish people left Egypt and slavery, the Passover Haggadah, and the novel Underground to Canada by Barbara Smucker. Over months of learning across the curriculum, the Grade Five students took the lessons and Exodus narrative and re-imagined them in modern times – through Chumash Studies, Hebrew, Language Arts, Drama, Dance, Music, and Visual Arts.
The spectacular Living Haggadah performance followed the order, or seder, of the Passover Haggadah. Each section related to different themes and learning goals in the respective classrooms and art studios: from critical text analysis, writing through different perspectives, and paragraph formation, to role-play, lyrical movement, musical arrangement, and creative knot making.
The students shined in their respective roles as they brought the classroom learning of the Passover story and slavery in early America alive on stage. From staging, costumes and props, the student-led performance was a joy to watch as the creative dramatized scenes written by students, beautiful student written songs and music, and dances dazzled the audience! What a night!
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