West BloomfieldJune 14, 2012
Shalom Street exhibit celebrates the earth
By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer
Young people who are fired up about protecting the land, sea and air will enjoy the elements of a new kids exhibit at the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit.
The exhibit, “Be Kind to Our World: Shomrei Adamah,” is nestled inside the JCC’s Shalom Street children’s museum. The exhibit started in mid-April and will last until the end of November.
Rabbi Rob Morais, Shalom Street director, oversaw the exhibit’s creation and said the idea came out of a staff brainstorming session. He said that while Shalom Street has hosted many exhibits before, it hasn’t staged one based on ecology or conservation.
Morais said the Jewish tradition of protecting the earth harkens back to the Garden of Eden. The Hebrew “Shomrei Adamah” roughly translates to “Guardians of the Earth.”
“We are in a partnership with God,” he said. “God gives us the world and all of its riches. … Your role is to guard this, to protect it, to work with this.”
Morais said the exhibit explores the environment through the prism of the four classical elements — fire (esh), water (mayim), wind (ruach) and earth (adamah). He said the theme comes from a Jewish tradition that says God created the world using those elements.
The exhibit’s various stations classify different aspects of science and the environment under those four elements. For instance, a wind lesson informs guests about wind energy, and a water area shows children a hydroponic garden and a model coral reef. An earth section features an etrog tree, a type of citrus tree.
Religious aspects are sprinkled throughout the museum, such as a lesson on the mikvah ritual bath mentioned in the Torah or the Burning Bush from the Exodus account in the Bible.
JCC Executive Director Mark Lit said the exhibit explains values and ideas that are important to Jews. He added that it is tied to an entire “kindness project” that the JCC is doing — which adds caring for the earth alongside caring for seniors, the hungry and the sick.
“What’s most exciting about the exhibit is rather than bring in an exhibit from another community, this entire exhibit is built by the JCC,” he said. “We hired designers. Our Berman theater people actually built it and painted it.”
The Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit, 6600 W. Maple Road in West Bloomfield, will host its “Be Kind to Our World: Shomrei Adamah” exhibit until Nov. 30. It is sponsored by the Charles H. Gershenson Trust Fund.
Admission is free. To learn more about hours or arranging a tour, visit www.jccdet.org or call (248) 432-5451.
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