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Ancient Shushan to be Built with Legos

PITTSFIELD – On Sunday, March 5, from 9:30 a.m. to noon, Berkshire County students, 2nd through 6th graders, and their families are invited to re-create the ancient town of Shushan under the guidance of architect, Stephen Schwartz, AIA, of SWS Architects, Livingston, NJ, and the founder of “Building Blocks Workshops.”

The event will take place at Congregation Knesset Israel, 16 Colt Road.

A medley of traditional Purim songs and a light lunch consisting of Persian specialties will conclude the free program which is made possible by the generosity of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, Congregation Knesset Israel, and Sinai Academy of the Berkshires.

Offering an unusual and stimulating new and fun way to understand the life and times of the Purim story in the Book of Esther, Myrna Hammerling, Family Educator at Congregation Knesset Israel, has collaborated with Schwartz to "build" on last year’s excitement, which saw an historical and imaginative “Lego” recreation of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Said Schwartz, “Participants are encouraged to build structurally sound, interesting, and whimsical models that have an architectural character worthy of the history they represent.”
 “I truly believe,” said Schwartz, “that both children and adults never forget the historical facts, architectural shapes, and geographical features they encounter through these building sessions.”   

For the Jerusalem construction, Schwartz brought almost 20,000 “Lego” pieces to Knesset Israel where nearly 100 parents and children, from north and south county alike, crouched, squatted, or perched on bent knees around a 20' by 20' floor map of the “Old City.”  After two hours of intense, fun-filled building, there emerged not only a scale model of Temple Era structures but, also, the story of the “Old City.”  

Schwartz “walked” participants through the “Old City” showing the importance and relationships of its geography and structures to the Jewish people.  Afterward, parents and children expressed a great interest in experiencing another “Lego” building program.
  For both those who attended last year, and those who missed the opportunity, Hammerling and Schwartz offer the building of Shushan (using as many as 60,000 Legos), where the youngsters and their families will learn together about the livelihoods of the town’s residents; the significance of its palace; its form of government; and the life and times of Esther, the courageous wife of Shushan’s autocratic leader.  Schwartz will link parts of the Book of Esther with the three-dimensional structures that emerge from the efforts of the diverse builders. 

Another wonderful by-product of the “Building Shushan in Legos” program will be the meeting of affiliated and unaffiliated families from countywide who will work side by side on “parts” that will join to create a “whole” and bring new insights into the intrigues of the Purim story. 
To register, please call Myrna Hammerling at (413) 445-4872, ext. 16, no later than Wednesday, March 1.