For all the old fogey Jewish educators like me (ie. anyone over the age of 30), it’s a relief to know that help is on the way.
We know that it’s important to meet our students where they are, to speak their language. But that can be problematic when we are not well versed in their cultural vernacular. For instance, it is common practice these days is to have students explore a topic or demonstrate their understanding of material through modes of expression that are familiar, that come naturally to them. One such mode is rap and/or hip-hop music (I am not one to know the finer nuances between the two) – one that the kids feel totally comfortable with, but which many of us pre-Millennials can barely understand (I mean literally – I’m lucky if I can make out every fifth word in a rap song).
Well, we teachers need no longer avoid this musical genre for fear of making fools of ourselves in front of our students, or worry about depriving them of an authentic hip hop Jewish educational activity. We just need to call out, “Bible Raps to the rescue!” (or better yet, contact them through their website), and leave it to the professionals to give the kids the rap experience they deserve. What a mechayah to just sit back and relax and let Matt Barr, Ori Salzberg and team do their thing and help the members of your class (or family education group, or Hillel house, or…) study traditional Jewish text and turn their understanding and interpretation of it into a quality hip hop recording (video or mp3).
Here are two of their impressive productions. Both are with Camp Ramah groups, and both show some serious Jewish learning taking place:
© 2010 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.