Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Torah from the Goyim…

imageTeach me Torah… PLEASE!  Okay, just a bit of a sulk here.

I am always so excited to see what passes for “Bible study” at a kid’s level in the goyishe world.  There are so many wonderful resources – too many, of course, for one family to use them all.  They are utterly spoiled for choice!

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While we, theoretically the People of this Book, have the lackluster and outdated-looking My First Parsha Reader or the sensationalistically colourful but hashkafically questionable Tell Me the Story of the Parsha.

imageThere are a few “little kid” things like Morah, Morah Teach Me Torah, with songs and crafts, but they’re mostly for very young kids. 

So far as I can tell, there’s nothing slick or fun or heck, even interesting, like some of the Christian resources out there.

What got me started was getting such a kick from this whiteboard-and-stick-figure based book and technique for teachers – these are from sample lessons on the Book of Esther and Parshas Noach (not called that, of course):

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Aren’t these great???  Anybody – even me – could draw like this and make the Torah come alive!  So now I’m seriously considering buying this as an ebook.

Here’s what’s in the “Beginner” volume:

Creation (Part1)

Creation (Part 2)

Adam

Eve

Sin

Noah

The Flood

The Tower

Abraham

Isaac

Jacob

Joseph The Slave

Joseph The Ruler

Baby Moses

Moses And The Burning Bush

The Plagues

The Red Sea

The Ten Commandments (Part 1)

The Tencommandments (Part 2)

Gideon

Ruth

The Boy Samuel

Samuel

King Saul

David And Goliath

Gideon

Ruth

The Boy Samuel

Samuel

King Saul

David And Goliath

Jonah

Daniel And The King

Daniel And The Lions

Esther The Queen

Esther Saved Her People

Ezra And Nehemiah

Jonah

Daniel And The King

Daniel And The Lions

Esther The Queen

Esther Saved Her People

Ezra And Nehemiah

 

I don’t see anything too controversial here.  I know some things will clearly not be appropriate – like I’d skip this particular lesson, from the “feasts” book, about Yom Kippur:

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Okay, that one is OBVIOUS.  I  probably wouldn’t buy the book in the first place.  Tip-off:  if somebody calls it a FEAST, they’re probably not a Jew.  See this post (and this post) for more on that. 

I’m not dumb – I can recognize basic Christian imagery and messages and, to whatever extent possible, steer around them.

I guess what I’m wondering is a) whether the Christian content will ruin the Jewish value of the product completely (ie render many or most of the lessons unusable), and b) whether there could be something “insidiously” wrong with the hashkafic outlook (redundant, I know) that I wouldn’t be able to pick up right away.

Hmm… maybe I’ll wait and see how the Pillars of History book works out before investing in another goyishe Torah curriculum!  It’s nice to see someone doing Torah properly, but shouldn’t it be US???

image(By the by, I have asked this about Veggie Tales for years; are there NO talented Jewish animators…?  Besides Ted, of course!  And yes, my kids watch Veggie Tales and have since the Shabbos we were told about the series, by a very prominent family in the frum community here.  So there.)

4 comments:

  1. Funny how I read this post just after my kids watched a video on youtube about the mishkan from what I'm guessing is a Christian site. I figure as long as there is nothing wrong with what they say, why not? I'll be interested in what others have to say on this topic.

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  2. My kids watch Veggie Tales too.

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  3. Well, your kids might get the Xian pronunciations of Hebrew if any of the lessons are audio or are reading books with the English translations. Many of the Torah Xians have no clue how to pronounce Hebrew and mangle it and the English translations aren't much better.

    Ex. Ne-uh-my-uh for Nechemiah.

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  4. A little story from the time of the Talmud...
    Rabbi Meir's teacher was Elisha ben Abuyah, a Torah scholar turned apikorus. He was so far OTD that he was known as Acher (the Other). Once, one of Rabbi Meir's colleagues asked how he could still learn Torah with Acher, and Rabbi Meir said "I take the fruit and leave the rind." If you find something valuable in non-Jewish resources, then go with it!

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