Teaching Towards Judaism As A Civilization
The Pedagogic Introduction provides an overview to the principles of a pedagogy for exposing students, in all settings and ages, to Jewish Peoplehood. As described in more detail in the introduction the pedagogy consists of three components:
- Engagement with the Jewish People – Connecting with the Heart
- Developing Peoplehood Commitment through knowledge – Connecting with the mind
- Motivating Action-oriented expressions of belonging to the Jewish collective enterprise – Connecting with the Hands
The Education Toolkit is a tool for the world-wide community of Jewish educators. We are committed to sharing resources across the field, and encourage educators to share their own resources and lesson plans, allowing us to create a user-driven program bank.
Ideas for Sparking Engagement
Designed to focus on emotional engagement, motivation to learn more, pride, solidarity and connection.
- Research and explore varied Jewish customs and folkways that showcase the diversity of global Jewish civilization. Highlight the diversity of Jewish food, holiday traditions, clothing and other customs. If you have students from diverse backgrounds in your group, ask them to bring in examples from their families. If not, ask students to research varied customs and share them with their peers.
- Choose a Jewish community that your students know little about, and research it. Examples might include Cuba, Bukhara, Iran, Italy or South Africa. Find out more about the uniqueness of that particular community, its history, communal structure and customs. Who lives there today?
- Create a program focused on students’ family names. Have each student research his or her family name, and through doing uncover family histories, including stories of immigration, family customs, etc. Demonstrate the geographical roots of students’ names and show how they reflect diversity of experience and background but are also part of the story of the people.
Ideas for Strengthening Commitment
Designed to provide students with more knowledge to help them understand what Jewish Peoplehood is and why it is important.
Content areas that relate to the concept of Judaism as a Civilization include:
- Jewish history focusing on dilemmas Jews have faced within their communities, and in the interaction between the communities and external forces.
- The unique story and structures of Jewish communities.
- Hebrew language, as a unifying force between Jewish communities.
- Other Jewish languages, such as Ladino or Yiddish, and their songs and literatures.
- Modern Jewish history with a focus on the formative events and initiatives of the 20th Century.
- The life and philosophy of Mordecai Kaplan.
Ideas for Motivating Action
Designed to give students concrete outlets for their motivation and connection, and to strengthen their Peoplehood consciousness through action.
- Develop a project for students to map the Jewish community in your city. The idea is to explore and analyze the local community through the wide range of community institutions that exist, and for students to think critically about the role those institutions play and how they construct the Jewish environment. A good community mapping activity exists here.
- Initiate a mifgash with Jews in another country or from another ethnic background.
Learn some words or phrases in another Jewish language, and read some of the literature, sing songs or perform theater in that language. There is lots of material in Yiddish and Ladino. Put on a show or performance. Find some native speakers of that language in your community, or through a mifgash, and ask them to help teach you.