Nosh N’ Drash
Ben Bag Bag would say, “Hafoch ba v’hafoch ba, kulei ba” – turn the Torah over and over for everything is in it (Avot 5:22).” Every year, the 6th graders engage in the Nosh N’ Drash program in Ms. Gereboff’s Judaic Studies class. The purpose of the Nosh N’ Drash program is to familiarize each student, on a deeper level, with many of the weekly Torah portions as well as to provide students with the opportunity to practice writing and sharing their own D’var Torah (Torah teaching). Each student prepares a written paper, a verbal presentation for the class, and a visual aid based on a specific Torah portion s/he is assigned. This is the “Drash” part of the program. The presentation and written work summarize the Torah text, provide traditional and modern commentaries, and ask critical unanswered questions the student still has. Students also bring a (healthy) snack, “Nosh,” for their classmates that relates in some way to the parasha. The class therefore gets to experience this double joy (studying Torah and eating together) in class.
This program allows our 6th graders to revisit some of the Biblical heroes and stories with whom they are already familiar by looking at the text itself, and honing their critical thinking skills as they examine the narratives of Biblical events as well as the messages behind them. Students examine the text of the Torah through three different, overlapping lenses: P’shat (literal or simple meaning), D’rash (commentaries and rabbinic interpretations), and personal Midrash (giving the students a vehicle to apply their own understandings and world views to the text). Throughout the years, the students have come to love the Nosh N’ Drash program (and miss it when they are no longer in 6th grade). They have also shown incredible creativity in how they present the parasha, create their visual aid, relate food to it, and most importantly, relate it to their lives as Jews today.
This program allows students to find a purpose and reason both for taking Judaic Studies and for revisiting stories that they may have studied before. Ultimately, they are also better able to understand who they are as Jews in this world because some of the messages and lessons they learn are about who we are as a people, how we view the universe, how we relate and interact with others, and how events shaped us. In other words, they learn that as students of Torah, they can thoroughly and thoughtfully engage in the Jewish exhortation: hafoch ba v’hafoch ba, kulei ba – turn the Torah over and over for everything is in it.