Category: Essential Questions
The Jewish Story
5 Unit(s), 30 Resource(s), 1 Teaching Tool(s)
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.
Passover: Story of the Holiday
This unit deals with the multifaceted story and diverse faces of the Passover holiday, and focuses on the idea of telling the exodus story and its significance.
Passover: Slavery and Freedom
This unit examines the theme of freedom on Passover and its implications for our lives even beyond the Passover seder.
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”.
Characters in Megillat Esther
In Megillat Esther, the plot of the story and the processes that the different characters undergo over the course of the story are both important. We will study the story of Megillat Esther by examining the experiences and characteristics of its main characters.
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.
Sitting in the sukkah (also referred to as “settling” or “dwelling” in the sukkah) is the main commandment on the holiday of Sukkot. In this resource, we will learn about the sukkah and will become familiar with its symbolism and the values learned from it.
Tikkun Leil Shavuot – The Jewish Value of Learning
In this resource, we will learn about the Jewish value of study through familiarization with the custom of Tikkun Leil Shavuot (all-night Torah study on Shavuot).
Ve-Nahafokh Hu – Topsy-Turvy
One of the themes of the festival of Purim is the idea of a complete change in a situation. This resource discusses the difficulties we sometimes face in controlling changes in our lives and considers how we can cope with such changes despite the difficulties.
Contemporary approaches to divine providence and free will
This lesson looks at several contemporary thinkers’ approaches to the issues of divine providence, divine foreknowledge, and human free will.
Human Responsibility and Divine Providence
This lesson explores the tension between the concepts of divine providence and human free will and therefore responsibility to self well-being. If there is divine providence at an individual level, does this mean we can rely on God’s protection if we are worthy or do we still have a responsibility to look after ourselves?
Free Will and do we really have it?
This unit will explore Jewish perspectives on free will in light of the Jewish belief of hashgachah, divine providence. Belief in an all-knowing God that controls the universe complicates a belief in the existence of free will. Yet, free will is a critical component in determining sin or its opposite, the fulfillment of a mitzvah. If there is no free will, how can one be responsible for their actions?
Hashgacha – Divine Providence
This lesson explores the concept of divine providence. Texts will examine the role of God in the world following its creation, exploring themes including what hashgacha is, natural law, relying on divine intervention and does human behaviour matter.
In the Beginning, One Being
In this unit we will look at several sources that explore the uniqueness of the human being and what that means for Judaism’s approach to diversity.
Adam and Eve
In this unit we will look at how the torah provides two accounts of the creation of Adam and Eve and consider approaches to what we can learn about the Torah’s approach to gender from this.
Two accounts of the Creation of Humankind
In this unit we will look at a second version of the creation of Adam found in chapter 2 of Beresishit, and explore various approaches that reconcile this with the version in chapter 1.
In God’s Image
In this unit we will consider what it means that humans are created ‘in the image of God’, and what that tells us about the Torah’s approach to the nature and purpose of humankind.
Shabbat as a Taster of the World to Come (the afterlife)
In this block we will look at three sources that compare the experience of observing shabbat to the World to Come (the afterlife).
Megillat Esther: Story of the Holiday
In this resource, we will learn about Megillat Esther and the holiday of Purim. We will address the main themes that are found in Megillat Esther and reflected in the customs of the holiday, such as happiness, “Ve-Nahafokh Hu” (all upside down or topsy turvy), concealment and mutual responsibility.
The Torah is Better than Any Merchandise
The Importance of the Torah for Us
The Torah is the foundation of Jewish culture and Jewish life. We read from it every week, there is a commandment to study it, and it forms the center of two holidays – Simchat Torah and Shavuot. In this unit we will discuss why the Torah has such an important status in Jewish tradition and what it means for us.
Chanukah – The Story of the Holiday
We will become familiar with the Chanukah story and the customs associated with the holiday. We will discuss what we can learn from the story and how it can serve as a source of inspiration in our lives today.
From Generation to Generation
In this resource, we will learn about the lineage of Torah transmission and how we can take part in this chain of transmission and innovate in it.
The Ten Commandments
This resource explores the Ten Commandments, which constitute a moral foundation for the Jewish people and have inspired other nations, as well. It also deals with the importance of rules for society and the individual.
At Mount Sinai
Receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai is a formative event in Jewish tradition and
culture. This resource discusses this event and considers in what ways its memory
has been meaningful for Jews throughout the generations and down to our own
The Giving of the Torah
The experience at Mount Sinai is a formative event in Jewish tradition and culture. In this resource, we will explore the description of that event and what that description can teach us about the Torah.
The Maccabees’ heroism brought an end to the religious decrees enacted against Jews in the Land of Israel and to the victory that we celebrate on Chanukah. In this resource, we will discuss the question of what is heroism and who is a hero.
The Different Faces of Chanukah
In this resource, we will draw a parallel between two descriptions of the Chanukah story: The historical description found in the Book of Maccabees versus the Talmudic account describing the miracle of the oil jug. We will deal with the question of how each narrative contributes to our understanding of the story as a whole, as well as our own personal connection to the holiday.
Chanukah is a story of an encounter between Hellenist culture and Jewish culture. It represents the traditional worldview of preserving Jewish identity in the face of foreign cultural influences. In this resource, we will address the tension between Jewish culture and local and global culture.
In this resource, we’ll learn about this song and take a closer look at its lyrics. We’ll address the struggles of the Jewish people against enemies over the course of history.
Avadim Hayinu – We Were Slaves
Avadim Hayinu – we were slaves. Based on this passage in the Haggadah, we will discuss the story of slavery in Egypt and the experience of freedom, noting the relevance of slavery throughout human history.
Sukkah and Memory
In this unit, we’ll learn about the roles and importance of holiday symbols, including their significance on the personal and family level and their significance for the collective memory of the Jewish people, with an emphasis on the sukkah.
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.
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.