This year, the curriculums of BIMA’s majors and ABMs (Artist Beit Midrash) are connected by one meta theme. Specifically in ABMs, participants are provided the opportunity to explore the many ways in which art and Judaism can come together to shape who they are and who they want to be. Each BIMA participant joins an ABM track with a specific artistic focus – dance, theater, visual art, animation or creative writing – and uses it to explore the annual theme.
This year, the theme is the Tower of Babel. The story of the Tower of Babel, from the Book of Genesis,exploresthe origin of all earth’s different languages. In these explorations, the participants draw inspiration from our rich Jewish tradition to create original artistic work that reflects their lives as a young Jewish people committed to the arts. The final project in the ABM is an interpretation – either literal or abstract – of the Tower of Babel. Together, the final projects create a ‘living Midrash’ of the story, creating a rich tapestry of interpretations and insights into the relevance of the story to their lives as teens and as Jewish people. The final projects will be shared with the community during our ABM showcase at the end of the summer.
Educators ask many questions to challenge students in their perspectives and interpretations of the story, in an effort to expand their thinking and ability to view the story from new angles. Some of the core questions are as follows:
- How do we communicate with people that do not speak the same language? Where does communication break down?
- What happens when we are confronted with limitations?
- How can we channel collective frustration and anger?
- How do we create something that is worth while? How do we create something that leaves a positive impact on the world?
Educators also use prompts like the following to inspire open interpretation in the participants
- What is the significance of the concept of vertical and horizontal in the story?
- What is the purpose of multiple languages? What barriers do they create?
- Explore the concept of unity or dissipation as a result of language barriers.
For the remainder of the BIMA program, we’ll be posting photos about these explorations and the participants’ processes and projects on Instagram and Facebook, with the hashtag #migdalbavel. Be sure to follow us to see the superb projects the participants are creating!