5th Grade Students Wrap Up Tallit Workshop

On Monday, December 10th, 5th Graders and 6th Grade lateral entry students presented their finished tallitot to their parents as they concluded a five-part tallit workshop.

The workshop, which began in October, is the result of a community partnership with the Jewish Community Center (JCC) and Krieger Schechter Day School (KSDS). It was designed to give students a deeper understanding of the meaning and beauty of wearing a tallit by giving each student the opportunity to create his/her own tallit by hand using KSDS’s brand new, state-of-the-art Abramoff MakerSpace.

Rabbi Jessy Dressin, JCC’s Director of Jewish Life, and Jodi Wahlberg, KSDS’s Director of Community Partnerships and Middle School teacher, pioneered this interactive, integrated project in 2017 as a way to enhance the KSDS curriculum and t’fillah experience. The program had such a positive impact on our Middle School students that they decided to continue it this year and going forward. 

The project started with students picking out their material from fabric that was purchased by KSDS 8th Graders during their ten day trip to Israel. Students then met with local rabbinical leaders, Rabbis Rachel Blatt, Miriam Burg, Jessy Dressin, Jeremy Fierstein, Andy Gordon, Joshua Gruenberg, Moshe Schwartz and Debi Wechsler to select a meaningful text for the atara that they would read each time they wore their tallit.

With the guidance and expertise of KSDS teacher, Robin Nesky, a digital cutting machine in the school’s Abramoff MakerSpace was used during a subsequent session to cut out the student-selected text. Students then ironed the text onto the atara which was sewn onto each tallit.

In the final working session, students tied the tzitzit knots to turn the ordinary garment into a ritual garment, a tallit. Students learned about the significance of the number 613 in Gematria (numerical value). They worked together to tie the knots, often finding strategies to help each other when the tying became cumbersome or complicated. 

The workshop concluded on December 10th, with students proudly wearing their tallitot for the first time as they daven Shacharit. Students explained the process to a room full of parents and read their selected text, describing why it is meaningful to them.