“And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your home and your gates”
For some children, they spend as much time in a classroom or daycare as they do in their homes. So why wouldn’t educators commit to making the classroom feel more like “home”? Hanging a mezuzah*on the classroom door is a way to bring the home-school connection to life and make it tangible for children. Having a mezuzah on the door also makes an important statement, saying “this is a Jewish classroom”.
The start of the school year is a great time to focus on the mezuzah. Children are transitioning from home to school and this is a great opportunity to make children feel like their classroom is a safe and comfortable place, like a second home. Children love sharing stories about their lives, so let each child bring in a picture of a mezuzah they find at their house and share it with the class. If a child does not have a mezuzah at their home, then use this as an opportunity to discuss different traditions of families and religions. Make it an inclusive project for a diverse classroom.
Children are also much more invested in something if they have a hand in creating it. Let the children help create the decorative case for the parchment scroll to hang on your classroom door. You can easily find large plain wood cases on craft sites to decorate or you can use materials such as clay, plastic tubes, wire, etc. to create your own case. Children will be excited to see their work hanging on the door. Make sure to let the children create their own mezuzah to take home as well. One way to include families in the process is to invite them to write a prayer or wish for their children or family on the scroll.
There are a lot of opportunities to expand on the concept of a mezuzah and create an entire project around it. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Composition of a home: (doorposts), materials (wood, brick, cement)
- houses around the world (huts, igloos, apartments)
- Mezuzah scroll
- Explore the different types of writing utensils and paper
- Mezuzah cover
- Endless opportunities to explore different materials to create a cover (wood, clay, wire, etc)
- Are there different traditions and artistic styles for different communities and different parts of the world?
The mezuzah is an important tradition in Judaism and something we see everyday, so celebrate it and have fun exploring and creating!
*A mezuzah is the parchment scroll on which the prayer, the Shema is written and not the decorative cover. For purposes of this post, when I use the word mezuzah, I am referring to both the decorative cover and the parchment inside.