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Toddlers Turn On to Torah

How can you delight two- and three-year-olds with chanting of Torah in ancient melodies called trope? How do you pull them into the storyline, calling out questions and literally jumping out of their seats to shout Hazak! Hazak! Venithazek! (Be strong! Be strong! And may we be strengthened!) at the end of each portion, as if it were a chorus from the latest Disney blockbuster? Rabbinical student Marisa Elana James did just that, weekly, during her year as director of programming at a congregation in New York City. In this article, you can read about her methodology and listen to her chanting and questioning her very young congregants.

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