Israel Module - Israel Lesson 1: Home/Homeland



50 minutes


Poster boards (one per every three to five students)
Classroom board
Copies of Israel Worksheet 1A: “Home/Homeland: Jewish Texts” (one per student)
Copies of Israel Worksheet 1B: “Home/Homeland: Photography” (one per student)
11 related photographs by Zion Ozeri:

Small pieces of paper or sticky notes, each with the name of one of the photographs
Tape or thumbtacks for displaying photographs
Access to digital cameras and printers (for homework) 


Prior to students’ arrival, create the poster boards to be used in the Warm-Up/Introduction Activity. On each poster board, draw a large simple house shape and write the word “Home” in large letters in the roof.

Then, create a “gallery” of photographs by hanging copies of the pictures listed in the Materials section at students’ eye level around the classroom. Students will be walking through the “gallery,” so leave ample room for movement between the photographs. Label each photograph with the small paper providing its name.

Big Idea:

What does it mean when we refer to Israel as the “homeland” of the Jewish people? In this lesson, students explore the concept of a country as a home, as well as the notion that Jews from around the world—and from all generations—can find a home in Israel.

Learning Objectives:

In this lesson, students will:

  • consider what makes a “home” and a “land,” and apply their ideas to defining “homeland;”
  • analyze several Jewish texts to understand what these texts say about Israel as a home, as a land, and as a homeland;
  • write first-person accounts from the perspectives of subjects of photographs who are Jews from various backgrounds living in Israel, incorporating the theme of “Israel as a homeland” into their writing;
  • create posters focusing on the concepts of “home” and “homeland, using personal photography and short written critiques.

Warm-Up/Introduction Activity (10 minutes):

  1. Divide the class into small groups of three to five students each. Give each group a poster board prepared with the outline of a house drawn on it and the word “Home” written in the roof. Provide each group with markers and instruct them to fill their houses with words and phrases that they think of when they think about a “home.” Encourage students to consider the differences between a “house” (which is a physical structure) and a “home” (which connotes more emotion and personal connection). After five minutes, ask each group to present their homes to the class. (Posters should be displayed in the classroom after the lesson for reference in future lessons in this unit.)
  2. Then, as a class, discuss what words and phrases come to mind when students think about a “land” or “country.” (These words may include geographic terms, government concepts, etc.) Write their ideas on the classroom board. Which overlap with their ideas from the “home” activity?
  3. Now, ask students to consider the two lists of words and phrases and to define the word “homeland” – a land that is also a home?
    • How is calling Israel a “homeland” different from calling it the “country of Israel”?
    • How can a land be a home?


Text Discussion (15 minutes):

  1. Distribute the worksheet “Home/Homeland: Jewish Texts.” Divide students into four groups (or if it you have a large class, eight groups), and assign each group (or two, if eight groups) a different text to read and discuss. After 8-10 minutes, each group should present its text and responses to the class. Allow time for other students to respond and react.
  2. After discussing all four texts, ask students to discuss similarities and differences in the way the different texts present Israel as a home, as a land, and as a homeland.


Photo Activity (20 minutes):

  1.  Point out to students that before class you created a photo gallery in the room of eleven photographs by Israeli photographer Zion Ozeri. Explain to students that these photographs show Jews from various backgrounds and countries who live in Israel. Give students a few minutes to walk around the gallery and look carefully at the people and the settings captured in the photographs. (If students are not yet familiar with Ozeri, this would be a good time to introduce him and his work briefly.)
  2. Then, ask each student to return to the photograph he or she found most interesting or compelling and take notes for five minutes, answering the questions on the “Home/Homeland: Photography” worksheet. (It may be easier for students to take notes if you take the photos down and give them to the students to study at their desks.)
  3. Students should then be allotted ten minutes to turn their notes on their chosen photographs into first-person accounts – told from the perspectives of their photograph’s subject – about Israel as his or her homeland. Students should try to incorporate as many details as possible from their notes and can write as prose or poetry. Students may finish writing for homework and should share their writings in a future class.


Wrap Up/Review (5 minutes):

Ask students to consider the text and photographs they studied in class today. What connections can they make between specific texts and specific photographs? For example, can students find a photograph that they feel represents the peacefulness and quiet of “To Caesarea”? Can they find a person who appears to be feeling “the heartache of two homelands” described in “Pine”?



Students will each take a series of six photographs: three that focus solely on “home” and three that focus on the notion of “homeland.” The photographs can be of any people, places, or objects they choose. Photos should then be printed out and displayed on a large piece of paper or poster board that is divided in half, one side labeled “Home” and the other side labeled “Homeland.” Students should title each photograph and write a two to four sentence explanation about why they feel this photo relates to the assigned category. Students can share their posters in a future class.


Extension Activities:

  • The word “homeland” is often used to refer to a person’s country of origin. Students might conduct interviews with Israelis (or people from other countries) and ask them about their views and memories of their homeland.
  • Dissect the words of “Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem, first written as a poem by Naphtali Herz Imber in 1878. How do the words of “Hatikvah” relate to the idea of Israel as a Jewish homeland? Students can learn about when “Hatikvah” was adopted as the national anthem, as well as the history behind the melody. A great starting point is the “Hatikvah” article on