ZP: What is Character Day?
TS: Now in its third year, Character Day, set for September 22, 2016, is a global celebration where thousands of synagogues, schools and communities around the world will screen films – including The Making of a Mensch – on character development from different perspectives.
ZP: Sounds awesome! So what exactly does that look like?
TS: Communities will dive into film screenings, free printed discussion materials and resources while joining an online worldwide conversation around character. We’ll even have a global Q&A on Google Hangouts where experts from around the world will join us to speak about character development from different perspectives. We have so many incredible professionals joining us, including Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of England.
ZP: We’re especially excited about the film, The Making of a Mensch! What’s it all about? (P.S. LOVE the alliteration).
TS: The Making of a Mensch is a ten-minute film that explores character education from a Jewish perspective. In a lot of ways, my team and I had been studying what I now call “Menschiology” for a long time, but we just hadn’t realized it. When I learned about Mussar, which is an ancient Jewish science of character, I knew I had to make a film about it and how it relates to becoming a mensch.
ZP: We TOTALLY think the values of Mussar align with what we try and do here at OneTable — we know a bunch of our hosts will be putting together Character Day Shabbat dinners, too. Who else will be participating in Character Day?
TS: Today, over 36,000 groups have registered for Character Day 2016, and counting. You can stay connected with us on social media on Facebook and twitter, and definitely sign up for our newsletter at characterday.org for a lot of exciting news we are rolling out in the next month. Our hashtags will be: #CharacterDay2016 and #Character.
ZP: Why “character”?
TS: There has never been a more important time to talk about character on a global scale. While The Making of a Mensch explores character through a Jewish lens, Character Day explores character from different perspectives. And, just as an example of its global reach, this film in particular will be translated with subtitles in Arabic, Chinese, English Captions, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Russian, Spanish, and Swahili.
ZP: OneTable is all about Friday night dinner. How can a dinner host incorporate Character Day into their Shabbat practice?
TS: Character Day also features Jewish curricula and educational resources about Mussar, middot, or Jewish ethics, in its new Jewish Education Hub. This hub will serve as a resource for communities around the world to create their own Jewish programs on Character Day, as well as throughout the year. Any host can weave this content into their meal and focus their conversation and ritual on the context of character. We have some great discussion questions that explore these ideas in our Making of a Mensch discussion kit that you can order or review online. We really look at the films we have made as the appetizer and the discussion you all have afterwards as the main course…so you can see how perfect this is for a Shabbat meal!