Teaching kids how to cut paper at URJ Camp Newman
by Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik
Originally posted on Nice Jewish Artist
Every summer I spend two weeks at URJ Camp Newman leading classes in papercutting. The students are all campers in a program called Hagigah, which is focused on Jewish expression through the arts — fine art, dance, music, writing, photography, video, and more. They’re all high school students, many of whom have been coming to Camp Newman since they were little, and the summer is always a great experience.
One of the groups I worked with choose papercutting as their “major” — two hours per day, six days a week, for two weeks. The other group choose it as a minor, and spent one hour per day with me.
The students took to their knives rapidly, and had a great time learning a new medium. The first project for each group was a mizrach, an ornamental wall plaque used to indicate the direction of prayer (east) in Jewish homes. The major’s big project was then to tell a story from the Tanakh (Torah, prophets, and writings) or midrash, while the minor designed the Hagigah poster that would advertise the end-of-session “Peachy Levy Festival of the Arts.”
I’m really proud of the work the students did — and so I’m sharing some of it here for your enjoyment.
We brainstormed as a group about what elements should be in a mizrach, to represent the east — we were all pleased to see so many different interpretations of one extended motif come to life in our class.
Each student in the major chose a story from Tanakh or midrash (with the assistance of me and/or one of the rabbis we had with us) and illustrated it through this new medium they were exploring.
Just for Fun
Some of the students had some time for some smaller projects, just for fun, at the end of the session.
All of this work is copyright by the students who created it — I’m just not naming them since they are minors. I’ll be glad to field any questions about the creators or their work.