Notes of a 21st Century Jewish Dad – B’tzelem Elohim

Notes of a 21st Century Jewish Dad – B’tzelem Elohim

B’tzelem Elohim

Just a little note: as a writer, I’m changing the names of my wife and kids to protect their real identities. Also, from time to time I might incorporate stories and feedback from other parents into these characters and others, to give voice to the many ways ShalomLearning affects the lives of our children and families. 

8:45 am, Sunday. “Mom, Dad, come check this out,” Hannah and Jonah beckoned us in to the living room. They were prepping for their 9 am lesson at ShalomLearning with the laptop propped open.

When I was growing up, I loved watching cartoons with my brother and sister on weekend mornings. Things have changed more than a tad in the media since the 70’s, but who doesn’t like a short video clip for “homework?” That was what ShalomLearning was laying out and the kids were digging it.

The first clip was called “Hoop Dreams,” a video of an autistic boy in Rochester, who loves being manager for his high school basketball team. His enthusiasm and dedication was an inspiration to all the players. But the story was how the coach put him in a game just to give him the feel of suiting up. Low and behold, he ended up scoring 20 points, 6 baskets were consecutive 3 pointers. His first game off the bench and the whole school rushed the court and carried him around the gym. “That kid is amazing!” Jonah concluded. We all agreed. “That whole community is amazing!” Kristen added, moved by how everyone cheered for this boy at his first game.

The next clip was an introduction to the “Please Touch” theater group of all blind and deaf actors, one of its kind, that headquarters itself in Israel, but travels around performing their original play. “Those actors are amazing!” Hannah remarked.

Amazing stories! Amazing people! We got it. Things inside rarely are the way they appear on the outside.

8:55 AM. We talked about how God’s essence is in us all and we should always show respect for everyone we encounter.

10:01 AM. Their 9 am classes had ended. “Dad, do we have a Torah around?” Hannah asked.

Could it be? Hungry for more? “Sure, we have a Tanach” I replied, happy to accommodate. “No fancy scrolls, but it will do the job.”

“Can we look up where the ‘B’tzelem Elohim’ verses are?”

A minute later our whole family was gathering around a Bible for a deeper look.

And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and they shall rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep upon the earth.

And God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

(Genesis Chapter 1:26-27)

The usual observation is that there seems to be a decision to make mankind, and it is done by a recommendation of a plural group of angels, “Let US make man in OUR image.”

But Hannah was focused on something else.

“And God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

The word that kept jumping out at her wasn’t the plural or even the “image” piece, but rather a sensitivity of “created.”

“Why does the creation word (Barah) appear 3 times in one sentence?” she asked

“That is a fantastic question,” Kristen pointed out. “What do you think the Torah is trying to teach us?”

“Maybe it’s because the image of God inside us all are the things that we do that are creative,” Jonah offered.

Much better than Bugs Bunny to start the day.

Something wonderful is happening here. My takeaway is that creativity itself is holy. Listen to that creative voice and inspiration in whatever you do because it is part of that timeless part of us all.

Are you having any interesting family discussions from ShalomLearning? Let us know. Send us your moments.

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About Josh Troderman

Joshua Troderman, President of ShalomLearning has been a passionate innovator of Jewish education for 20 years. Josh has held teaching and administrative positions at a number of Jewish day schools, synagogues, and summer camps, including The Rashi School, The Rodeph Shalom Day School, The Kesher Community Hebrew School, The Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor High School, Congregation Kehillath Israel, Camp Ramah, Camp Edward Isaacs, and Storahtelling. Since 2009, Josh has also directed, a giving platform that empowers Jewish youth to learn about and experience the mitzvah of Tzedakah. Josh holds a master’s degree in Jewish Education (2005) from The William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education. He lives in Brookline, MA with his wife and two children, and can be seen playing keyboards and singing on Thursdays with his soul and funk band called The New Mother Earth.