As the daughter of an Israeli folk dance instructor and an art critic, Stav Meishar grew up in Tel Aviv surrounded by the arts. When she came to New York in 2008 to study at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, she also began working at a local Chabad, running its educational programming.
“I noticed it was hard for some kids to sit for a long time and remain engaged with the material being taught,” Meishar said, who began incorporating elements of drama, dance, music, circus skills and art into her lessons.
Children — and their parents — loved Meishar’s approach. Through word of mouth, Meishar’s classes became in-demand throughout the city.
“I became inspired to create this approach by seeing things that didn’t work,” said Meishar. “It bothered me to see a teacher insisting that a 5-year old with ADHD must sit and complete a workbook. I wanted to provide a chance for that child to engage with his whole body, to connect his Jewish learning with methods that play to his strengths.”
In 2011, she formalized her work as the Dreamcoat Experience. The award-winning program provides Jewish enrichment and education through creative arts, including, most notably, circus arts. Meishar is currently producing a traveling show based on the true story of a Jewish acrobat who survived World War II by joining the German circus, blending all her passions into one project.
Meishar remains inspired in her innovative work by seeing her pupils respond to the approach and by making connections between Jewish lessons and contemporary events and values. “Recently a second grade student, of their own initiative, connected the Purim story I was teaching to the political situation in America today,” marveled Meishar. “I believe a good teacher doesn’t give students answers, but asks challenging questions while also providing useful tools for them to find answers and connections themselves. In turn, I learn so much from the children I teach.”
Voiceover fame—Meishar voiced the role of Fleur Delacour in the Hebrew dubbing of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”