Midrash Hour: Be the Change

Be the change! The 4th Grade turned gender stereotypes on their head during the annual Midrash Hour performance. Through unique songs and dialogue, students shared their wisdom and talent with the student body during an afternoon performance and with families and friends in the evening.  Based on the story of Joseph, with an abundance of humor students addressed themes of forgiveness, regret, supporting each other, and righting wrongs.

The 23rd annual Midrash Hour script was developed in Jewish Studies class by the students with the guidance of educator Elana Weinberg based on the questions students raised in class. The story explores the conscience of Joseph and his brothers, and questions of forgiveness. The roles of the women are also expanded in the story and, through the voices of the angels, announce future positive changes for women. The songs originated in music class under the direction of Eliot Bailen, creator of Midrash Hour, and the artwork and design for the set were created in Art class with Kaley Finegan.

Created in 2001 by Eliot Bailen, a Rodeph Sholom School parent, the annual production has become a rite of passage for 4th graders before heading into middle school. The heart of Midrash Hour is the idea that the full creative participation of the students deepens their understanding and brings ownership of the final product. 

In the words of our Director, Samantha Schiffman: “Midrash hour is an experience for the 4th graders to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They learn about midrashim, write the show and songs, paint the set, rehearse, memorize lines, and work together to put on a production that is entirely their own. Watching the 4th graders step out of their comfort zone to confidently put on Midrash Hour is an absolute joy. I am so proud of them!”

Per Eliot Bailen, “We have been so fortunate once again to have our inspiring director and script editor, Samantha Schiffman. As always, Jonathan Levine has beautifully prepared the children and imparted his wisdom to the project. A huge thank you to the wonderful 4th Grade teachers – Stephanie Brooks, Michele Kaplan, Laurie Rayman, and Carly Tofel – whose support is crucial, as well as the amazing Rebecca Hammerman and Ira Glasser, whose visions for Midrash Hour have propelled it forward. We extend our gratitude to Rabbi Ben Spratt for his inspiration and to our Head of School, Danny Karpf, for his continued enthusiastic support of the program. Finally, thank you to the parents for the privilege of working with your children.”