Each week, Rabbi Sheryl Lewart, z”l, would send out blessings to congregants and friends, offering a modern twist on each week’s Torah portion. Blessings for Life's Journey is a posthumously published collection of her writings.
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.