Mock mazel tov! A mock wedding at Milwaukee Jewish Day School

Milwaukee Jewish Day School teacher Lani Denny asked her fourth-grade class to plan a mock wedding for her, and to make a chuppah for both her real and mock weddings, but it was Jodie Honigman who worked with the kids on the project. Sort of.

“I was the guide on the side,” said Honigman, a Jewish life coordinator and teacher at MJDS. “They really owned the project.”

The core question Honigman brought to the project was this: “How can Jewish ritual bring meaning to central moments in our lives?”

Less than two weeks after she was actually married, Lani Denny hugs her mother Marsha Denny at a mock ceremony run by Milwaukee Jewish Day School kids. Before them is the chuppah used in both the mock ceremony and the real one.

Thus, lessons focused on the meaning behind a chuppah and each of the 16 fourth grade students designed a model chuppah. This design competition led to various design elements being incorporated into the final chuppah, which was constructed at MJDS.

The kids were broken down into committees on invitations, ketubah, chuppah and fourth grade rabbis.

“The rabbis wrote the whole ceremony themselves,” Honigman said.

“We work really hard to try to make our learning a student-owned, with experiential educational experiences and authentic learning opportunities,” said Head of School Aaron Lippman. “This really hits all three out of the park.”

Lippman said he’s grateful that a teacher “is willing to share her life in this way.”

The breaking of the glass has the Milwaukee Jewish Day School kids’ full attention at a mock wedding on Jan. 10, 2020. Fourth graders ran the wedding and kids in the fifth grade and younger attended.

About experiential education

Experiential education is the idea that learning happens when the lessons are connected with direct experience. Learning about a wedding is not as powerful as actually officiating a wedding and seeing to the rituals associated with a wedding. In this way, children at Milwaukee Jewish Day School learned a lot about weddings by preparing for and running a mock wedding for Lani Denny and Noah Rotter. For more on experiential education, see this month’s D’Var Torah by Jodie Honigman, the MJDS Jewish life coordinator and teacher who helped the kids with their wedding preparations.