Building a Jewish Studies Environment: Focus on Dugma

The Dugma School for Boys, an elementary religious school in Jerusalem, has built a Tanakh classroom. When students enter the classroom, they walk into a scene that Avraham Avinu may have encountered: a cave-like entryway with camels lining the wall.

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An open tent greets them. A large well sits in one corner, an antiquities flour grinder in another. Sandals, scarves, and turbans lie in another corner for students to act out scenes.

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Learning about Yaakov’s spotted sheep? Birkat Yitzchak to Yaakov and Esav? Have these handy sheep cloths in your Bible Corner for more meaningful learning.

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The image below shows the Choshen Mishpat: a must for any class learning Yehoshua (story of Achan), Shmuel (going to war with Plishtim), Vayikra (Bigdei Kehuna) and many more! Your students will love creating this and using it in the classroom.

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Shavuot time? Studying Megillat Ruth? Or the laws of Leket, Shickcha and Peah? Build, demonstrate and experiment with an ancient sickle. How tired gleaners must have been after a day’s work in the fields! How difficult it must have been to donate some of that hard-earned wheat to the poor. Let the students live the lessons of the Bible, so they go home ‘feeling’ the Tanakh.

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A model of the mizbeach is essential for any lesson concerning the Mishkan or Beit Hamikdash. You can see how simply it was put together by looking at the image on the left.

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Studying Mishna? Live in Mishnaic period houses for a day, complete with ancient wine and olive press, flour grinder and well.

Dugma does not limit their prop centers to Jewish text study. When the students study modern Israeli history, they can visit the S.S. Zion in the hallway to learn the realities of making aliyah.

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Setting up a Prop Center

Most schools do not have the facilities and resources that were available to Tzvi Ne’eman, Dugma’s Head of School. But the idea works on a smaller scale as well.

Designate a corner as the Tanakh or Jewish Studies Prop Center, where students can sift through items, choosing carefully to enhance a skit, scrapbook or illustration. Take one idea from this and make it work for you and your students.

Consider including: Samples of clothes, shoes, food, writing utensils, weapons, looms, sewing garments, cookware, oil lamps. The possibilities are endless. Props should change as the subject studied changes. Students should be involved in prop creation as much as possible. The design and building of the props should be based on intense textual analysis.

Consider the effect on the student:

  • Participates in intense textual analysis.
  • Explores struggles of day-to-day life of Biblical/period heroes.
  • Examines cause-effect in different time periods.
  • Investigates life in different time periods.
  • Internalizes life in different time periods.

A prop center is one way to encourage MI in the classroom. MI projects and assignments can enhance the prop center, or stand alone.

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