What Is Identity?
Group Size: 10-20
Estimated Time: 45 minutes
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Identity is not about exterior qualities, rather inner; identity is not one thing, rather made up of many varied things
What is Identity?
Topic: Zehut Yehudit (Jewish Identity)
Written by: Shanie Glazer, Naomi Rosenblatt, Netanel Afek, and Anna Czinn, Cleveland
Age: Taf and Aleph (2-6)
Suitable for Shabbat
Goals: Identity is not about exterior qualities, rather inner; identity is not one thing, rather made up of many varied things
[By the way, don’t be afraid of talking casually to your kids – you can start a peula with just regular conversation about movies, school, food… anything they’ll talk about. Just establish yourself for them so that they’ll listen to you when you actually want to get ahead with the peula. Just a side point. Now for the peula:]
Step 1: Anna’s Game
Partner the kids up (or let them choose a partner). When they have their partner, have them sit in a circle, each person opposite his/her partner. Then go around half the circle (only one partner of each couple, not both) and have them describe one thing about the identity of their partner. If they ask you what that means, tell them the same thing: Describe one thing about the identity of your partner (possible hint: what makes your partner who he is). They’ll probably go around and describe each other physically (i.e. blue eyes, brown hair, white shirt, etc)
If they do, stop them after each couple went, and ask them if the exterior qualities of their partner make them what they are? If I had brown hair and white shirt, will I be their partner? Ask them to go ahead and describe some personal/interior qualities of their partner, this time asking the other partner (meaning going around the second half of the circle) to describe.
IF THEY DESCRIBE interior from the very beginning, then – shkoyech, you’ve got smart chanichim. Skip ahead to a discussion on why the interior qualities they described are specifically the ones that show who the person is?
Step 2: not only personality?
Discussion: ask the chanichim the following:
- Is it really only their personality that defines who they are?
- Are there other factors involved?
- Go over the following and ask them if these can help define their identity better (maybe you could even take a vote on each one to see who thinks they can be described by that. Then you could call on someone to give an example):
· clothes (of course not)
· goals in life
· video games they played (of course not)
So…. Logical conclusion is…. Identity is not one thing, characteristic, or a virtue. It’s a mixture of things about a person.
Since we are actually talking about Jewish identity, after we saw what can make up a person’s identity, go ahead and go over what makes up a Jewish Identity. Possible ideas:
Past (upbrininging), tradition, family, values,
Feel free to come up with many more things.
Step 3: one built of many
If you have time left, feel free to give your chanichim mission to illustrate the fact that Identity is built out of many things that work together in harmony.
Human Pyramid: Just tell your chanichim they need to get into a pyramid, one on top of the other. You all know what to do… you can time them to make it more exciting.
THE POINT is to show that identity, like the pyramid, is built out of many things.
One, two, three…: one person starts with one, and the group needs to get to ten (or more if successful) without coordinating who says which number.
THE POINT is that without each and every person’s contribution to the counting, the game will never work. So too with identity and the things that make it up.
Acting Game (to the more chanichim):
Actors: Mom, Kid, Doctor
Kid comes home and says: “Ima, my tummy hurts!”
Mom: “we better call the Doctor”
(the Doctor arrives) “what’s the problem here?”
(kid falls to the floor)
mom: “oh my, he’s dead!”
At this point, you, the director, shout CUT and say “that was too boring!!! It needs to be more ______________ !” (do this many times.) Each time insert another accent or style: British ("mommy - my bloody tummy seems to hurt!” ”by golly - we betta' call the docto'!”), western, dramatic, valley girl, japanese, ballet dancer, chassidish, and anything else that comes to mind. (LET THE CHANICHIM think of ideas if they can).
THE POINT is that 1) no two identities are the same and 2) identity itself is made up of varied and different things.
- identity is about what’s inside….
- Identity is made up of many different things – you can’t describe your identity in one word.
- The Jews, as a nation, as a people, have an identity (but that will be discussed later in the month)