Understanding Jewish Sexuality through Art; We started this semester focusing on the Jewish body. We examined images from popular culture and began our discussion with the question do we feel that there is a difference between a Jewish body and a non Jewish body? In that discussion, we touched on stereotypes, and in particular Jewish noses. That led us to our first art project. Students casted their Jewish noses, and then painted them. We talked about the idea of B’tzelem Elohim (In G-ds image). A question came up in discussion: If we were all created in G-ds image then why might we have preferences for certain body types, including on our own bodies? The teens reflected that being made in G-ds image means that we are perfect in every way. This led to a discussion on how we treat others, and what our obligation is to embrace all bodies with an open heart, including our own. Some students talked about how society shapes the idea of sexy, and I encouraged them to be critical of the bombardment of text and visual stimuli they receive on a daily bases.
Our next major theme was Modesty. We unpacked the idea of what it means to be modest in today's world, Students explored the three prongs of Jewish modesty: modesty of dress, modesty of tongue and modesty of actions. We studied Midrash, and examined biblical ideas of Modesty. We read blogs from young women and men, that struggle to live a modest life. We talked about how much of it applies to our lives. This led us to our project. Each student had to create a visual representation of what modesty means to them. Some students used plaster, some used mirrors, some used oil pastels, etc. Each project reflected the struggle we have as Jews to balance Jewish values, and Rabbinic texts and laws with contemporary life and modern culture.
As our semester comes to a close, we are beginning a new topic of the differences in Judaism between love and lust. We will talk about consent and dive into the rabbinic duality of Yetzer Hara ( the so called evil inclination) and Yetzer Hatov (the good inclination) and how they manifest in our lives.
Contact Midrasha Co-Directors Mark Deutsch and Debra Marx at (510)501-6692