Our Stories

Slow Down and Listen to the Wind

By Liora Brosbe, Jewish LearningWorks’ Senior Educator

While Torah Godly Play is a powerful tool for telling the stories of our Jewish heritage, it also is doing much more than simply imparting knowledge. It is a modality of telling stories for Torah study that engages the innate spirituality and curiosity of students of all ages, as they reflect on lessons and values applicable to their lives today. Our latest Torah Godly Play training made me think of the poem “Slow Down,” where Kohenet Riv Shapiro encourages us to slow down, so that we can be carried by the current, and receive life’s blessings – a parellel to Torah Godly Play, and the powerful act of storytelling with the cadence of love.

Shardae Jordon, a JCC East Bay Preschool teacher shared that the training, “ will help us to tell accurate Torah stories with reverence.”

Another educator, Alice P. reflected “It was a wonderful experience and I learned so much…It felt like I was really learning Torah and learning how to teach Torah stories in a new way that felt resonant with me. Coming from a fairly observant background and being in Jewish schools my whole life this gave me a way to dive into teaching stories from my childhood that feel so current with my educational values.”

These words express the power of the training for the 18 educators that attended. Over the course of the full day together, the participants were able to take away concrete tools for using Torah Godly Play in their schools and programs. However, they were also able to engage deeply with the storytelling process and tap into personal and collective themes. When Rabbi Shire told the stories, the room was silent, filled with an almost devotional energy that we learned was the intentional aspect of bringing kavod, or honor to Torah learning for the people listening to the story.

The dedicated participants spent the full day together to listen, learn, and wonder together. The educators teach preschoolers, grade schoolers, b’nai mitzvah students and work in the community as directors of educational programs, classroom teachers in supplemental synagogue-based programs and day schools as well as specialists in art and nature.

Rabbi Dr. Michael Shire, founder of Torah Godly Play, joined us all the way from Boston, MA where he is a Professor of Jewish Education at Hebrew College in Boston. Rabbi Shire is originally from the UK and his soothing, melodic accent is one of the unique aspects of hearing him tell the stories and demonstrate the captivating essence of the experience. To experience a small taste of this unique learning experience, view these video samples and additional resources at Torahgodlyplay.com.