9 Unit(s), 49 Resource(s), 1 Teaching Tool(s)
Purim: Customs and Values
Unit on values related to Purim and how they relate to the customs of this holiday
Purim: The Story of the Megillah
Unit on the story of Megillat Esther, the different subjects that appear in that story and the values we can learn from it: characters in the megillah and their development, features of the plot, etc.
What is Chanukah About?
What is the historical story of Chanukah? This unit addresses the different stories of Chanukah and how they have influenced the character of the holiday.
This unit is about Chanukah candles: how and why they are lit, the symbolic significance of lighting candles and the idea of spreading light and its cultural and personal significance.
Just Remember: Symbols and Reminders in Judaism
All religions and cultures incorporate symbols and reminders into the norms of everyday life. In this unit, examples of these from Judaism will be presented, and the ideas and values they represent will be explored. Students will be encouraged to consider what their own connection and relationship can be in a 21st century context.
The Exodus from Egypt as a Jewish Calling
This unit explores the centrality of the Exodus from Egypt in Jewish life. It suggests several reasons for its importance, and discusses the moral lessons from it that have guided human behavior throughout history.
Chosen People, Chosen Purpose
This unit explores the concept of chosenness, and what it means when Jewish tradition says the Jewish people are a “Chosen People”.
Saying Sorry and Forgiving
A unit approaching Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur which focuses on saying sorry: the importance of saying sorry, the difficulty in saying sorry, and the command to forgive others.
“Until One Cannot Distinguish”: The Limits of Joy and Celebration
Celebration has an honored place on Purim. We will learn about the reasons for this celebration, become familiar with different ways of encouraging joy and celebration on the holiday and examine the limits of celebration.
Vashti and Esther: Women in Action
The actions of Vashti and Esther in Megillat Eshter teach us about feminine activism. We will study the story of these two women from a feminist perspective.
Leadership and Responsibility in Megillat Esther
In Megillat Esther, Esther exhibits strength and leadership, acting out of a sense of responsibility that leads her to act to save her people. In this resource, we’ll learn about leadership and responsibility, inspired by Megillat Esther and by a Jewish figure from the modern era — Hannah Senesh.
Self-Defense and Revenge
The saving of the Jews described in the megillah is described as an event that included the Jews killing those who hated them. We can see this as an example of self-defense or as an example of revenge. We will learn about the different aspects of this event and address situations in our own lives that involve elements of defense and revenge, as well as the relationship between personal ethics and social norms.
Power in Megillat Esther
The story of Megillat Esther (the Scroll of Esther) presents the various power relations that exist between the different characters. We will learn about the power that each character holds, and the importance of deciding how that power should be used.
The ushpizin are special guests we invite into our sukkah. In this resource, we will learn about the custom of ushpizin, as well as the value of welcoming guests into our home and how it’s connected to the holiday of Sukkot.
Why were the Israelites Chosen? – Intrinsic vs.Extrinsic Holiness
The Jewish people are often referred to as the “Chosen People”, based on references in the Torah that describe the Israelites as singled out by God from among the nations of the world for a specific reason and a purpose. In this lesson we will explore these references and the way several Jewish thinkers approach them to evaluate for ourselves whether this “chosenness” was because of a defining and intrinsic holiness or a potential extrinsic holiness to be achieved.
Vehi She’amda – God’s promise to Abraham
This resource discusses God’s promise to Abraham to redeem the Jewish people and to help Jews throughout the generations to cope with difficulties and to maintain their hope and faith.
In Every Generation
In this resource, we’ll explore our obligation — as the descendants of those who were redeemed from slavery — toward those who are oppressed and weak within our own society and around the world.
The Ten Plagues
We will learn about a symbolic action performed on Seder night as we recite the list of the Ten Plagues – the spotting of our plates with drops of wine and suggest the meaning that can be attributed to this custom.
The Four Sons
The four sons represent four ways of thinking and the importance of education that is tailored to the personality of the learner. This resource will address the importance of being inclusive of different types of people, as well as the different parts of ourselves, and the importance of communicating with individuals in a manner that acknowledges and takes into consideration ‘where they are at’.
Ha Lachma Anya – The Bread of Affliction/Poverty
“This is the bread of affliction/poverty.” It is with these words that the Haggadah begins the main part of Seder night – the telling of the exodus story. What does matzah symbolize and why does the Haggadah begin specifically with a discussion of it?
Ma Nishtana – the Four Questions
In this resource, we will learn about the Four Questions section of the Haggadah. We will become familiar with the examples that appear in the text and explore the significance of asking questions on Seder night.
From Slavery to Freedom – for younger students
The song Avadim hayinu, ata bnei chorin – “We were slaves, now we’re free humans” is based on a passage in the Haggadah that describes the dramatic change the Children of Israel underwent from slavery to freedom. This resource discusses these themes and connects both conditions to experiences in our own lives.
Telling the Story
One of the main goals of Seder night is to tell the story of the exodus from Egypt. This is done not only by reading the Haggadah, but rather through a variety of methods – which we will learn about here.
The Seder Plate
In this resource we will get to know the Seder plate and the role it plays in telling the story of Passover on Seder Night.
The Seder Simanim
The Haggadah is divided into a fixed series of distinct sections. To help those holding the Seder to remember the order, “simanim” – signs or mnemonics – were devised to indicate the order of proceedings.
The Holiday of Passover
A basic first lesson about the holiday. We will familiarize ourselves with the various aspects of the holiday by becoming acquainted with its story and diverse names: Passover, Springtime Festival, Feast of Matzah and Holiday of Freedom.
Jewish tradition requires a minimum of a minyan (10 Jews) for certain prayers and ceremonies. In this resource we will learn about the significance of this custom.
When the Sages formalized the Jewish prayers, they used fixed turns of phrase that we may call “prayer formulas” (or prayer coinages). In this resource we will study some of these formulas and understand their importance.
The Shema is a central prayer in Judaism. In this resource, we will learn about how this prayer has been a symbol of Jewish identity throughout the generations.
The Amidah Prayer (part two)
Diving into the Amidah
In this resource, we will focus on three of the blessings found in the Amidah prayer: one that is national in nature (the blessing for Jerusalem) and two that are personal in nature (the blessing for healing and “hear our voice”). We will explore the significance of each of these blessings in the life of a Jew – as a human and as a Jew, as an individual and as a member of a community.
The Amidah Prayer (part one)
In this resource, we will learn about the Amidah prayer, including its characteristics and structure and why it is the central prayer in Judaism.
Blessing for Peace
The Blessing for peace is about peace between people. In this resource, we will discuss the importance of the value of peace.
The prayer Modeh Ani (I am thankful), which is said upon waking up, teaches us about the importance of gratitude and acknowledging the good in our lives. Gratitude is so important that the tradition taught that this prayer should be the first thing Jews say as they begin the day.
Intention in Prayer
Traditional Jewish prayer involves set language and is recited at set times. Alongside this, Judaism also values intention and feeling in prayer. In this resource, we will explore the tension between routine and intention/feeling, as well as how routine and intention can complement one another.
What is Prayer?
In this resource, we’ll explore prayer: what is said, to whom it is directed, what we pray for and when we pray. We’ll broaden our view of prayer through the study of the prayer-poem “A Walk to Caesarea” by Hannah Senesh.
Lighting Shabbat Candles
Lighting Shabbat candles is a ceremony that takes place at the beginning of Shabbat and is effectively how we bring in Shabbat.
We will use the song “Little Gifts” to discuss the special time on Friday as Shabbat approaches and the gifts these hours can give us.
The Shabbat Queen
We will read the poem “The Shabbat Queen” by Chaim Nachman Bialik to learn about the main aspects of Shabbat and the ceremonies and customs of the day, in the order of their occurrence from Friday evening through sunset on Saturday.
We will learn the song that is traditionally sung on Friday night. The song blesses the angels which, according to Jewish legend, accompany us on Shabbat.
It is traditional to welcome Shabbat with psalms and poems (piyutim), including the song Lecha Dodi. This resource discusses the song and the feeling of anticipation and excitement as Shabbat approaches.
Shabbat Rest for Everyone
In the book of Shemot (Exodus) the commandment to keep Shabbat is set in a social and moral context. Shabbat rest is intended to apply equally to every person, regardless of class or socioeconomic status. This lesson will discuss the moral aspect of Shabbat as an inspiration to a more just society.
Welcoming Shabbat – Kiddush
We will examine the Kiddush ritual, said over wine and Challah. We will discuss the blessings and the actions they accompany.
Oneg Shabbat — Delighting in Shabbat
We will learn about what it means to delight in Shabbat, in light of the traditional commentary on the verse “and you call Shabbat a delight.”
Shabbat – Time To Contemplate Anew
Shabbat offers an opportunity to rest from the hectic pace of the week and to take a fresh look at our lives. We will study a text by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan regarding this aspect of Shabbat.
Shabbat – A Palace in Time
Abraham Joshua Heschel compares Shabbat to a “palace in time” – a superior and special place we come to once a week.
Feeling Shabbat – People Creating Holiness
We will use a Hassidic story to discuss the power of symbols and human actions to create an atmosphere of Shabbat.
Kiddush and Kedusha
We’ll become familiar with the Kiddush blessing that is said on Friday evening. We’ll look at the concept of kedusha (holiness), in general, and the kedusha of Shabbat, in particular.
The Blessing for Sons and Daughters
We’ll learn about the blessing for sons and daughters that is said in many families on Friday evenings.
Shabbat – An Island in a Tumultuous Ocean
With the help of a text written by Abraham Joshua Heschel, we will touch upon Shabbat’s essence as a moment in time in which we take a break from the hustle and bustle of the week, rest and connect to ourselves and to the sublime.
The First Shabbat
On the seventh day, God rested from the work of Creation.
The seventh day of Creation was designated as a day of rest — Shabbat. From the description of Shabbat in the Creation story, we will learn about how God rested and we will explore how we rest from our weekday routines.
It’s Hard to Forgive
A selection from Chaim Potok’s “The Chosen”, which deals with the difficulty that forgiving sometimes poses for us.
Maimonides’ words deal with the command to forgive a person who has asked for forgiveness.
We will learn the Viduy prayer, in which we confess to our sins using the plural – together with Am Yisrael.
Asking for Forgiveness
A selection from the Mishnah which teaches the importance of asking forgiveness before Yom Kippur
The Thinker/ Rodin
Rodin’s famous sculpture depicts a person deep in thought. We connect between the sculpture and the process of cheshbon nefesh.
I Walk Down the Street
Portia Nelson’s poem encourages us to think about the things we do automatically, and which we should change and improve, in order to prevent repeating mistakes.
Blowing the Shofar
On the origins and meanings of the mitzva of hearing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah.