Israel Module - Israel Lesson 3: The Land of Israel
One copy of Israel worksheet 3A “Land of Israel: Map Activity” packet (six pages)
Tape or thumbtacks (to display photographs and names on the classroom walls)
|The Land of Israel is intrinsically special to the Jewish people. Israel is not just a setting in the story of the Jews; it is like a living character as well. What role does the Land of Israel play in the history of the Jewish people, and what are our responsibilities to the Land? How would the story of the Jewish people be different without Eretz Yisrael?|
In this lesson, students will:
Warm-Up/Introduction Activity (15 minutes)
- Prior to class, arrange the desks into six groups, and at each set of desks place one page from the “Land of Israel: Map Activity” packet along with a different color marker or pen.
- Once students are seated, instruct them to read the question that accompanies their group’s map, discuss it as a group, and then write their responses inside the shape of Israel. Give students a couple of minutes to respond, and then ask them to pass their paper to the group to their left. The next group should read the question and the previous group’s comments, and then add their responses. Repeat the activity until all groups have responded to all six questions. (You may discuss these responses in a future class and/or display them in the classroom for students to read at their leisure.)
- Explain to students that in today’s lesson they will be exploring the concept of Eretz Yisrael (ארץ ישראל) – the Land of Israel – both as a physical location and as something that is precious to the Jewish people.
Text Activity (15 minutes)
- Divide students into nine pairs or groups, and give each group a page from the “Land of Israel: Jewish Texts Worksheet.” Ask students to read their text, discuss it, and answer the questions. Circulate among the groups to address any questions students may have or to redirect them.
- As students work, tape or pin up the fourteen photographs of different locations in Israel around the room, along with the name and location of each.
- When each group finishes, instruct students to walk around the room quietly, look at the photographs as a group, and then choose one photograph that they feel best reflects the significance of Eretz Yisrael depicted in their text. They should take the photograph back to their desks.
Photo Activity (15 minutes)
- Ask students to discuss in their groups how they think their photograph is related to their text. Students should revisit their worksheet responses and answer the same questions for the photograph. How does the photograph speak to the meaning behind the text?
- Then, ask students to imagine they are standing at the location of the photograph when it was taken. What sights, sounds, smells, and physical feelings do they have standing in this spot? How connected do they feel to the land and to Israel? Why?
- Ask students to share their texts, photographs, and connections briefly with the rest of the class. If necessary, continue this activity in the next class.
Wrap Up/Review (5 minutes)
It is said that “a picture speaks a thousand words.” If these photographs could speak, what would they tell us about their piece of the story of Israel?
Each student should choose a special place that he or she can easily visit (such as a room in his or her home or the home of a family member, a spot in the backyard or a nearby park, or another easily accessible location). Students should photograph their places in a way that they feel captures what is special to them about it. Each student should then write a brief (one page) story about the place, either as a personal reflection or as a first-person narrative from the perspective of the location. Photographs and stories can be shared in a future class.
- Think about the many ways that Israel is characterized in Jewish tradition and texts, as well as in modern perceptions (such as the “land of milk and honey,” the “promised land,” a homeland or refuge for Jews from around the world, and a leader in technological advancement, to name a few.) Choose one of these concepts and consider how Israel might be personified based on this concept. Is Israel a parent? A teacher? A doctor? A policeman? Write a creative essay focusing on this personification of Israel.
- Many Hebrew songs are about specific places in Israel, the history of Israel, or the importance of Israel to the Jewish people. Listen to some of these songs at the Israel Song Finder website. Then, choose one and create a visual aid (poster, PowerPoint presentation, storybook, etc.) that incorporates photographs to show the meaning behind the song.
- Show maps of the countries in the Middle East as well as countries of the Middle East and Europe, so students can have a perspective of the size as well as all Israel neighboring countries.
Map of Middle East
Map of Middle East & Europe