When you work with children, there is a part of you that must always be a kid. To tell the truth, no one should eliminate that wonder that children have in every experience they have each day. How do we keep that sense of wonder within us? Jewishly we do it by blessings, which really means that we have to notice and then bless. Then the most Jewish thing to do is to question. What am I noticing and questioning and letting my “kid mind” explore today? At the Goldberg Early Childhood Center, we just had a wonderful Purim but I don’t want to talk about Purim — I want to talk about costumes. Yes, I know that we wear costumes on Purim to remember how Esther hid the fact that she was Jewish. This past week, I talked to our children about how sometimes we do hide who we are, but it is more important to be who you are and stand up proudly. Yet, that isn’t what I want to tell you about the costumes I saw — LOTS OF DINOSAURS!! AND I LOVE DINOSAURS!!
But what do dinosaurs have to do with being Jewish? In the book “What’s Jewish About Butterflies?” authors Maxine Segal Handelman and Deborah L. Schein answer questions about many different things that we may not see as Jewish. The values associated with dinosaurs are Kavod — Respect (in case a dinosaur shows up at Shabbat), Ma’aseh B’reishit — Miracle of Creation (those were some really crazy ideas that G-d had) and Talmud Torah — Study (kids love to learn about dinosaurs!). There is an Israel connection as dinosaur footprints were sighted in the Judean Hills near Bet Zayit and, of course, archeologists abound in Israel so who knows what they will find.
Probably the most interesting connection is from the book “…And Then There Were Dinosaurs” by Sari Steinberg. It is a wonderfully artistic reimagining of the legend “Six Worlds Were Created Before Our World.” The idea is that G-d tried six times before our world and dinosaurs were one of those attempts that didn’t work. The conversations about this idea and why the dinosaurs failed can be amazing with both children and adults.
So there are Jewish connections to dinosaurs!! This week I will take my love and fascination (and all my toys) to teach about the wonder of dinosaurs and creation plus share the many Jewish values that we can learn — all while having a great time!