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Expressive Kavannah - An Intermodal Educational Experience

Photograph by Debbie Cooper

Expressive Kavannah combines Edna Wapner-Miron's two fields of interest. "Expressive" connotes the field of Intermodal (combining the arts) Expressive Arts Therapies and "Kavannah", a term meaning "focussed intention", inspired by the Jewish Spiritual Tradition.

Expressive Kavannah is an intermodal educational experience where participants find inspiration, meaning and healing in art expression, supplemented by music, dance, poetry and journalling within a Jewish framework. A session lasts three hours, in which partcipants are introduced to a Jewish theme ( such as a text, a prayer, or holiday), engage in a creativity period with meditation and conclude with processing in a supportive atmosphere.

Jewish identity and spirituality find inspiration in art, music, dance and poetry. The arts are crucial to Jewish Culture and Education as they add a new dimension that takes us out of the intellectual, the worldly, the tangible.The Expressive Kavannah experience offers that other dimension by combining Expressive Arts with the wisdom of Jewish text and tradition.

Expressive Kavannah can be taught as an ongoing yearly class, a semester, an intensive workshop for a day, or over a period of days or part of a larger colloqium. The individual session is held over a three-hour period and requires basic art supplies and a sound system. The theme of the workshop is very adaptable to different contexts and frameworks.

Expressive Kavannah taught on a weekly basis has often been inspired by the weekly Torah portion, taking an essential theme to develop creatively and introspectively. As an intensive workshop for a day, or over a period of days, the program is best presented with one main topic, such as " Creativity and Healing". Expressive Kavannah can be integrated into the program of a larger conference or colloqium. The population most appropriate for Expressive Kavannah is teens, young adults and adults. They can all benefit from the three-hour period of concentration and this gives them the opportunity to delve into the topic in enough depth to give personal meaning and a feeling of accomplishment.

"In Expressive Kavannah, I have explored and resolved issues both visually and through the process of creating. I have played freely with color and geometry. I have exercised personal and demonic feelings during my most troubled times. And I have expressed ideas about jewish topics.. achieving a sense of resolution."

"Expressive Kavannah enabled me to synthesize my (Jewish) learning. After spending intensive hours at Pardes and intense days in Israel, I needed a place where I could let go."

"With each meditative experience and experiment in various media, I found myself getting closer to my inner spirit".

"In Expressive Kavannah, meditation, music and verbal cues take text study beyond intellectual grappling and into a personal, nonverbal realm in which Torah study infuses our personal lives".

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