by Sophie Haber ’19
Rabbi Emily Feigenson announced during class meetings that she has embarked on a project that will introduce traditions from different cultures on campus during the next three months. After a group of ninth graders proposed the idea of setting up a Christmas tree at school before winter break, Feigenson thought of using family traditions to teach students about the diverse variety of cultures that make up the school community.
“I want to make sure that our equality celebrations are thoughtful and fun. By thoughtful I mean that they acknowledge that the tradition that’s being presented is not everybody’s. The way we can do that is by writing a bit about it and explaining what it is, and that’s not only to educate people. It’s also to at that moment acknowledge that we know that not everybody has this custom,” Feigenson said.
Hanukkah and Christmas customs were celebrated in the weeks before winter break. On Dec. 11 students gathered during break for a dreidel spinning contest, where Hanukkah-themed music was played and students could experience some of the holiday traditions. On Dec. 14 the originally proposed Christmas tree was brought into the Munger Library by student council.
“I love having the Christmas tree and the school get into the holiday spirit because seeing it always puts you in a good mood,” Kerry Neill ’19 said.
Feigenson is planning to showcase Chinese New Year traditions and hopes to also include Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu customs, as well as any other culture or religion that makes up the school community, in her project. Although her current ideas are mainly religious traditions, Feigenson hopes to incorporate any type of cultural custom that students propose. Each display will be used as a teaching tool to help students to learn about different cultures and will be accompanied by a paragraph explaining what the tradition is.
If any students or community members have ideas of traditions to showcase at the school they should contact Feigenson via email. The goal of the project is to embrace all cultures and use their customs as a way to teach others.
“This work is more fun when I am able to work with a group of students, listening to them and responding to them. That’s when the work is exciting. I hope that people will feel free to contact me, telling me what their family does,” Feigenson said.