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The Yad HaYotzer: A Yirmiyah, Pre-Yom Kippur Pottery Project

  • Votes: 57

Submitted by: Tzvi Pittinsky

Cultural Considerations

This project connects Yirmiyahu’s vision to the classic piyut from the Yom Kippur liturgy which highlights the Yom Kippur evening service for Ashkenazic Jewry, כחומר ביד היוצר, Like Clay in the Hands of the Potter. This piyut is not a part of the Sephardic Yom Kippur liturgy. Obviously, this piyut should be taught together with Yirmiyahu and care must be taken for Sephardic students who are unfamiliar with the prayer. Perhaps similar Sephardic Yom Kippur prayers should be incorporated as well.

School Name(s)

The Frisch School

Innovation Type

Project

Full Name(s) of Collaborator(s) (If Applicable)

Mrs. Rachel Besser, Mrs. Ahuva Mantell, Ms. Racheli Weiss

Actions

This involved a little bit of moving around the curriculum, skipping to teach chapter 18 after introducing Jeremiah in chapter 1. More importantly, this requires a space to create the pottery and an art teacher or someone else who can demonstrate pottery making. We actually had a potter’s wheel but realized that, while this was excellent for demonstration purposes, for 20+ students in a class to make their own pottery, it is much easier for them to work with clay and a rolling pin.

Resources

One needs a space to make the pottery, clay, rolling pins, and other tools like pottery needles and cut-off wires. One can use air dried pottery but it is preferred to to bring the finished pottery to a kiln. This communicates the message of Yirmiyahu to our students who need to beat the clay down and up again and again to remove any air bubbles which would cause the clay the crack when burned in the kiln. This matches G-d’s vision of how sometimes he must first destroy in order to rebuild.

Description

In 10th grade, we learn Sefer Yirmiyahu. One of the many fascinating prophecies is chapter 18 when G-d tells Jeremiah to go to the house of a potter and watch him do his work on the potter's wheel. This prophecy has become a part of our Yom Kippur liturgy in the piyut, כחומר ביד היוצר, Like Clay in the Hands of the Potter. This year 10th grade Nach teachers decided to reenact this prophecy with an art project which gave students the chance to become the Potter, making their own creations.

Subject/Grade Level

This project was implemented in our 10th Grade Nach (Navi, Prophets) classes. It can be utilized with any high school class studying Sefer Yirmiyahu.

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