How do Jewish practices reflect Jewish values?
12 Unit(s), 52 Resource(s), 1 Teaching Tool(s)
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.
The Book of Ruth
The Book of Ruth is read in the synagogue on the holiday of Shavuot. The story told in this book is linked to the holiday of Shavuot in terms of the time of year at which it takes place — the time of the wheat harvest. This is also the time of year at which we celebrate Shavuot. In addition to the timing, the content of this book is also related to the holiday of Shavuot.
The Why of Shabbat
What are the philosophical underpinnings of Shabbat observance that make it a critical area of religious observance throughout history? In this house this will be explored through the eyes of several contemporary Jewish thinkers.
The How of Shabbat
In this house the “how of shabbat observance” will be explored in all its complexity and diversity among the Jewish people today.
Topics in Prayer
There are several aspects of traditional Jewish prayer that relate to the development of prayer as a fixed ritual, and some that are related to prayer as a ritual that takes place with others. This unit deals with the topic of praying in a minyan (a quorum of ten people), prayer formulas and the importance of intention in prayer.
Passover: Seder Night and the Haggadah
This unit discusses the various aspects of Seder night – the structure of the Haggadah, the Seder plate, and selected texts from the Maggid section.
Central Jewish Prayers
This unit focuses on some of the central prayers in the siddur (Jewish prayer book), including: Birchot ha-shachar (the morning blessings), the Shema, the Amidah and more.
You Are What You Eat: Finding Meaning in the Laws of keeping Kosher
This Unit will familiarize learners with the concepts of kashrut, as well as expose them to the basic laws of keeping kosher. It will examine some of the rationales behind these laws and consider a broader understanding of kashrut and its relevance to Jewish values and contemporary ethics.
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.
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.
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.
Kindness (Chessed) in the Book of Ruth
In the Book of Ruth (Megillat Rut), kindness (chessed) is expressed in several different ways. This unit discusses the meaning of kindness, how we can be kind, and the importance of kindness in society.
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).
Shabbat and Creation
In this block we will consider the connections between Shabbat and the Creation of the world.
Shabbat is the heart of Jewish life
In this block we will look at the historical, cultural, and sociological impact of shabbat observance on the Jewish people.
Shabbat and the Exodus
In this block we will consider the connections between Shabbat and the Exodus.
Shabbat is being in the present
In this block we will look at several sources who all approach shabbat as a means to pause and take stock, be present in the moment, and focus on ourselves.
The Spirit of Shabbat
In this block we will explore the overall theme of “rest” on shabbat as a way to maintain the spirit of shabbat.
Contemporary Approaches to Shabbat
In this block we will explore contemporary approaches to shabbat observance from various streams of Judaism that differ in some way from Orthodox observance.
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.
Zachor – the “dos” of Shabbat
In this resource we will consider the positive aspects of Shabbat observance, including the positive mitzvot involved in an active Shabbat observance.
Shamor – the “do nots” of shabbat
In this block we will consider the classic Biblical and Talmudic sources for the prohibitions involved in shabbat observance.
The Four “Memim”: Purim Customs and Traditions
This resource deals with the four main customs on Purim – mishteh (a feast), mikra megillah (reading Megillat Esther), matanot l’evyonim (gifts to the poor) and mishloach manot (gifts to friends) – and the values of mutual responsibility reflected in them.
The Sukkah – Permanence and Temporariness
On the holiday of Sukkot, we turn the sukkah, a temporary structure, into our permanent home for the duration of a week. This resource discusses the experience of permanence and ephemerality on the holiday of Sukkot and in our daily lives.
First Fruits (Bikurim)
The mitzvah of bringing bikurim (first fruits) to the Holy Temple is referred to in the Torah as an act of gratitude to God for bringing us to the land of Israel. In this resource, we will discuss the importance of being grateful for the good things in our lives, the various ways in which we can express our feelings of gratitude, and the connection between gratitude and the first fruits.
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
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.
The Enlightening Dispute Between Hillel and Shamai
This resource deals with the dispute between Beit Hillel (the school of Hillel the Elder) and Beit Shamai (the school of Shamai the Elder) over whether we should add or detract from the number of Chanukah candles that we light each night of the holiday. We will use their dispute to discuss the value of debate in Jewish tradition and the concept of “machloket l’shem shamayim” -“a dispute for the sake of heaven”.
Light – A Symbol of Good
This unit discusses light as a symbol of good in the context of the Chanukah story.
Rejoice in Your Festivals
On Sukkot, it is a mitzvah to be happy. In this resource, we will learn about reasons to be happy on Sukkot and Simchat Torah, and about happiness as a Jewish value.
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.
The Four Species
On the holiday of Sukkot, holding the four species together teaches us about the Jewish People’s desire for unity, alongside the differences between its individuals.
Holding back: How Kashrut teaches social and moral self-discipline
In the “Are there health benefits (for body and soul) to keeping kosher?” block the potential physical and spiritual health benefits to observing the laws of kashrut were considered. In this block we will explore possible sociological, psychological, and ethical reasons behind the laws of kashrut.
For the body or the soul: Possible reasons for keeping kosher
The laws of keeping kosher have no immediately obvious rationale behind them. Yet we assume that observance of all the mitzvot in the Torah are beneficial to us. Therefore, for generations, Jewish thinkers have formulated various approaches to the benefits of keeping kosher. In this lesson we consider four approaches to the physical and spiritual benefits of observing the laws of kashrut.
Introducing the Laws of Kashrut
What does it mean to keep kosher? There are a multitude of complicated laws that are the starting point to answering that question, and in this lesson we will look at their sources.
Wearing a Kippah as a Symbol
In this lesson, the custom to wear a kippah is explored through talmudic and through talmudic and modern sources, taking a specific focus on the kippah as an expression of Jewish identity.
Tzitzit as a Symbol
In this lesson, the symbolism of the mitzvah of Tzitzit will be examined, through looking at the biblical source for the mitzvah, and then exploring different approaches through talmudic and modern voices.
Mezuzah as a Symbol
In this lesson, the symbolism of the mitzvah of Mezuza will be examined, through looking at one of the biblical sources for the mitzvah, and then exploring different approaches through talmudic, medieval, and contemporary voices.
Tefillin as a Symbol
In this lesson, the symbolism of the mitzvah of Tefillin will be examined, through looking at the biblical source for the mitzvah, exploring a national symbolism of Tefillin in a medieval commentary on the Torah, and a more personal approach taken by a modern thinker and a teen author.
What the Bible says on remembering the Exodus
In this lesson the themes of the Exodus in Judaism and Jewish history are explored, including the importance to remember the Exodus, and the lasting impact that this experience has had on Jewish national memory, on the Jewish psyche, ethics, and living.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Types of Prayer: Praise, Supplication, and Thanks
In this resource we will become familiar with the three main types of prayers: praise, supplication, and thanks, with their distinctive characteristics.
Birchot Hanehenin (“Blessings of Enjoyment”)
Birchot Hanehenin (“Blessings of Enjoyment”) are blessings of gratitude recited over things given to us by the world and from which we derive pleasure.
In this resource, we will discuss how we can observe the natural world from a place of wonder and thereby feel gratitude for the good in our lives.
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.
Birchot Ha-Shachar – The Morning Blessings
Birchot ha-Shachar – the Morning Blessings – are a series of blessings that accompany the various actions we perform on waking in the morning. They express gratitude and encourage awareness and mindfulness during our daily routine.
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.
How Do We Say Sorry?
The poem describes a situation in which it is hard to say “I’m sorry”, and raises the question whether one needs to be explicit in saying sorry.
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
A Happy and Sweet Year – The Signs for Rosh Hashanah
We will learn the blessings said for the special foods (the simanim, or signs) eaten on Rosh Hashanah, and their meanings.