Bibliodrama

 

Having taught Jewish text in the "regular" way for a number of years, in 2002 I discovered Bibliodrama, a wonderful technique that I have been privileged to take all over the world and train teachers to use. To date I have run close to 400 Bibliodramas in ten countries.

This  powerful experiential technique was developed by Dr Peter Pitzele of the US (pictured left), in conjunction with his wife Susan. Peter's book, Scripture Windows, taught me how to apply the method in practice.

Bibliodrama is not theatre/acting. Rather, it's a dynamic group role-playing, drawing the participants into a direct engagement with the text and leading to fascinating, startling results.

Questions are put to the participants, who must answer in the mindset of the character: what are you thinking, feeling, what is your motivation etc. This propels people directly into the heart of the story and creates emotional depth and identification.

Participants become insightful commentators, creating together a form of spontaneous "Modern Midrash." Even teachers expert on a particular story have a new and different experience through Bibliodrama, to their surprise.

From 2011-2013 I was priveleged to be involved in an inter-cultural Bibliodrama EU Grundtvig project, partnering with the Elijah Interfaith Institute and have done interfaith bibliodrama at Elijah's summer school.

Much material may be found on the Pitzeles' website, including my report on Bibliodrama in Israel. My essays on Bibliodrama can be found on my writings page.

For me, Bibliodrama is an opportunity to relive the story and have it genuinely affect our identity, right now, in this moment. That is how Torah should be - a living Torah (עץ חיים היא). The feedback I get after each Bibliodrama ranging from "I really enjoyed this" to "It was amazing, I am still taking it all in" to "I love hearing how everyone has a different understanding" prove to me the importance of the method.

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# LOOK:

Photos of Bibliodrama

Pictured: Bibliodrama in Krakow, May 2013, organised through the EU BASICS project, with participants from Demark, Sweden, Iceland, Holland, Belgium and Hungary.

Ruth 1:1 - the famished citizens of Beth Lehem have sat around the well discussing their options. Now some have decided to stay and some to leave in search of food. What do they have to say to each other?

(Photo credit: Krzysztof Tusiewicz)

Click on picture for photo albums from Bibliodrama in Krakow and Jerusalem

 

 

# WATCH:

(1) Introduction to Bibliodrama at interfaith meeting in Jerusalem's Old City, with Muezzin in background (2) Bibliodrama Training Session, Poland 2011, BASICS project (NOTE: Bibliodrama is called Biblilog in Europe, to differentiate it from another school of Bibliodrama)

For larger screens click the Youtube button

    

 

# LISTEN:  

The Spirit of Things, ABC National Radio 2006 Click here (Bibliodrama begins around two fifths of the way through)

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RESUME OF BIBLIODRAMA WORKSHOPS AND TEACHER TRAININGS:

Israel:  Hebrew University  Legacy Heritage Fund   Midreshet Lindenbaum  Yakar  Ta Shma  Pardes  UJS tour  SAJES   Zichron Yaakov   Bet Yosef Synagogue   Jewish Agency   Netzer   Young Judea   MASA    Midreshet Devorah    Limmud Galil   Swedish Theological Institute   Ecce Homo   Aardvark Sela   (and many others...)

USA:   NY (Carlebach Shul, JTS, OZ, Shearith Israel, Drisha, CAJE educator's conference)   NJ (Maayanot)    Memphis (ASBEE)    Dallas (Akiba)    Houston (Emory-Weiner)    Philadelphia (Stern)  Boston (Maimonides) Chicago (KCT Skokie)   Florida (Hollywood)   Los Angeles (PJC Shul on the Beach)

Canada: Winnipeg (Gray academy)

UK: LSJS  Jewish Teacher-training programmes    Limmud Conference   Limmud Fest  Limmud Manchester   Kol Nefesh  Immanuel College  IJDS  Moishe House  Dunstan Rd Synagogue  Kinloss Synagogue  Yeshurun Synagogue  

EUROPE: Belgium: Antwerp (Tachkemoni school)  Poland: Bielsko-Biala (Teatr Grodzki)   Krakow (JCC)  Germany: Limmud  Iceland: Grundtvig BASICS project multicultural encounter Turkey: Grundtvig BASICS project training course   Norway  Interfaith group

Australia: Sydney (Moriah school, Sydney Jewish Writer's Festival, Shalom Institute, North Shore Syagogue, Great Synagogue, Or Chadash), Melbourne (Yavneh College, Mount Scopus, Limmud Oz, Shira, Kedem, Bialik school), Perth (Perth Hebrew Congregation, Carmel School, Limmud Perth)

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TESTIMONIALS:

Thanks again for yesterday's session. It was rich in ideas, concepts, and educational wisdom. As you saw, the students were most engaged in the bibliodramas and gained much from this experience. Several mentioned how they are keen to experiment with this approach in their educational work.

- Hebrew University Course , 2016


I attended Yael Unterman’s Bibliodrama session on the book of Ruth, right before Shavuot. Everyone there thought it was so wonderful. It was interactive and insightful, as well as humorous and moving at times. And to think it was us, the participants, that came up with it all (with the help of Yael’s amazing facilitator skills, of course). If you aren’t familiar with her work, I strongly suggest you check her out in person.

- Devorah Gordon, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles 


We hosted Yael Unterman at Ma'ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls in New Jersey. Yael did two bibliodrama sessions for our students.  We found the technique very interesting.  It really drew the students into the story, making them think about issues they hadn't thought about before, and it brought the story to life.  It was a very exciting way to relate to the text.

- Suzanne Cohen, Tanakh teacher, Maayanot Yeshiva High School


In a small format she did a biblio-drama workshop for teachers, and we all gained so much from it. I personally went out the next week and used some elements of it in a sermon... She has my highest recommendations.

- Rabbi Joel M. Finkelstein, Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth Cong. Memphis, TN


 

From an interfaith group:

- It creates a friendly atmosphere...In a short time we knew each other in a deeper way

- Stories coming alive and becoming a part of them is a very strong experience, to many of the participants' own surprise, including my own

- A powerful way to connect with the bible of our lives. And also helps us to see how God speaks to different people

- It opened me to other ways of understanding the text

 

 

Ronit Rosenfield, chesed