Unit II. Visualizing Values - Lesson 10: Exploring Jewish Values in Depth [one or more sessions]

Time:

One or more sessions

Materials:

Materials will depend on the activities that you decide to do with your class.

Preparation:

Preparation will depend on the activities that you decide to do with your class.

Overview:

Through these activities, students explore the meaning and relevance of specific Jewish values in their lives.

Big Idea:

Jewish values are not abstract concepts; they are integral to our practice and experience of Jewish life.

Once your class has identified its list of core Jewish values, we encourage you to explore one or more of these values in greater depth—through images, texts, and student projects.

 In this lesson, we’ve included activity ideas for a few core Jewish values. These include:

  •  Chinuch (חינוך) – Education and Study
  • Tzedakah (צדקה) – Righteousness and Charity
  • Kehillah (קהילה) – Community
  • Peoplehood / World Jewish Community- Klal Yisrael (כלל ישראל)
  • Kavod (כבוד) – Honor
  • Ha-S’vivah (הסביבה) – The Environment
  • Halachah U’mesorah (הלכה ומסורה) – Jewish Life and Tradition

 Depending on your curriculum needs, your class list of values, your students’ interests, and your time constraints, try out as many of the activities as you’d like. Spend one session or several and adapt the activities as you see fit. 

Because there is no definitive list of Jewish values, the seven values listed above may not match your class’s list precisely. Nevertheless, there will likely be overlap between this list and yours. Again, feel free to adapt the ideas as appropriate.

We encourage you to make use of the additional resources included with this site. The Curriculum sample texts, for example, includes a variety of quotes organized loosely by value. After each set of texts, you’ll find a list of photographs by Zion Ozeri that relate to the particular value. Likewise, the descriptions of Ozeri’s photographs in the “Photo Captions” section are each followed by 2–3 relevant texts. Feel free to use these photographs and texts to augment your class’s discussion of Jewish values.

 

Chinuch (חינוך) – Education and Study:

  • Have students complete Worksheet K or explore the photograph, questions, and texts through class discussion.
  • Have students take photographs in school that reflect the value of chinuch, or have them create and photograph a series of “tableaux”—staged scenes—that depict the value.
  • Have students compare the photographs Upsherin, Older Sister, and The Shape of Sound. Discuss:
    • What do these photographs have in common?
    • How are they different?
    • What do they suggest about the role of education within the world Jewish community?
    • Why do Jews consider the Hebrew language so important?
  • Have students view the photograph Synagogue Attic, Scribe, or Summer Camp and respond to the photo using one of the creative response exercises suggested at the end of Unit 1, “For Further Exploration.” Discuss the way we, as Jews, treat sacred books. Why do we give so much honor to inanimate pages? Start a genizah project, wherein students collect discarded texts and either repair them or bury them in the traditional manner.

  

Tzedakah (צדקה) – Righteousness and Charity:

  • Have students complete Worksheet L or explore the photograph, questions, and texts through class discussion.
  • Have students take photographs in school that reflect the value of tzedakah, or have them create and photograph a series of “tableaux”—staged scenes—that depict the value.
  • View the Photograph Soup Kitchen Musician and discuss it in relation to this text from the Talmud (Gittin 61a):
    “We support Jewish and non-Jewish poor; we visit Jewish and non-Jewish sick and bury Jewish and non-Jewish dead, to promote the ways of peace.”
    • What is meant by the phrase “to promote the ways of peace”?
    • What is our obligation to the various communities of which we are a part?
    • How do we decide who to give tzedakah to?
  • Have students research various social-service organizations in your community (Jewish or secular) and decide as a class where to volunteer or donate money.

  

Kehillah (קהילה) – Community:

  • Have students complete Worksheet M or explore the photograph, questions, and texts through class discussion.
  • Have students take photographs in school that reflect the value of kehillah, or have them create and photograph a series of “tableaux”—staged scenes—that depict the value.
  • Have students view the Photograph Bomba Israel. Have them read the sample texts accompanying it in the “Photo Captions” section. Which text do they think connects best with the photo? Why?
    Discuss:
    • What are our obligations to our community?
    • What are the various communities of which we are a part?
    • What do we get from or give back to each?
  • Have students compare two or more of Ozeri’s photographs to explore various aspects of community. For example, have students observe the Photograph Sunrise, Sde Boker, Waiting for Seven Jews, and Summer Camp. Discuss:
    • What do these photographs have to do with community?
    • What do they say about the role of “place” in a community?
    • How important do you think the places where we gather for community and prayer are?
  • Or have students view the Photograph Headstone and the Photograph Beit Ha-Hayim. Discuss:
    • How do these photographs relate to each other?
    • What do they suggest about responsibilities toward both the living and the dead in our communities?
  • Show students the Photographs Shochet and Scribe. Discuss the role the individuals in these photographs play in a Jewish community. Then have students interview and photograph individuals who contribute (at all levels) to their own community—firefighters, janitors, rabbis, local politicians, educators, postal workers, crossing guards, etc.
  • A community is a mosaic of individuals. There is a feeling of unity that ties a community together but also a sense of diversity that keeps a community dynamic and evolving. Have your students create a collaborative artwork that reflects the unity of your class community, as well as the diversity that exists among its members. For example, they could create an actual mosaic of painted tiles or a mural in the school.

 

 Peoplehood / World Jewish Community- Klal Yisrael (כלל ישראל)

  • Have students complete Worksheet N or explore the photograph, questions, and texts through class discussion.
  • Have students take photographs in school that reflect the value of klal yisrael, or have them create and photograph a series of “tableaux”—staged scenes—that depict the value.
  • Have students look at thr Photograph Honorable Discharge and write a story from the point of view of the figure in the picture. Then discuss the circumstances of his arrival in Israel (see “Photo Captions” for more information).
  • Have students research the various aliyot (immigrations) to Israel in the 20th century—for example, from Ethiopia, Yemen, North Africa, and the former Soviet Union. (See the Photographs The Secret, Backpack, Cave, Barefoot Passages, Let My People Go, The shape of sound, Background, Open Table, and B’nei Menashe.)

 

Kavod (כבוד) – Honor:

  • Have students complete Worksheet O or explore the photograph, questions, and texts through class discussion.
  • Have students take photographs in school that reflect the value of kavod, or have them create and photograph a series of “tableaux”—staged scenes—that depict the value.
  • In small groups, have students look at the Photographs Honorable Discharge, Basic Training, Barefoot Passages, Headstone , Kabbalat Shabbat, Summer Camp, Holocaust Survivor with his Grandchildren, and Scribe. Have each group discuss one of the photographs and share: How does this photograph show honor? Have each group find a text to go with the photograph (go to the “Sample Texts” section of the curriculum.). Discuss: What can we do in own lives to reflect the value of honor?
  • In small groups, have students come up with real or plausible scenarios that reflect the value of kavod. Have students role-play their scenes for the rest of the class and discuss them. Each group could present two scenes—one showing how the value was upheld and one showing how it wasn’t.

  

Ha-S’vivah (הסביבה) -The Environment:

  • Have students complete Worksheet P or explore the photograph, questions, and texts through class discussion.
  • Have students take photographs in school that reflect the value of ha-s’vivah, or have them create and photograph a series of “tableaux”—staged scenes—that depict the value.
  • Have students view Photograph Olive Harvesting and respond to the photo using one of the creative response exercises suggested at the end of Unit 1 in “For Further Exploration.” Then have students read the sample texts accompanying the Photograph. Discuss:
    • What role does the olive tree have in Jewish history and in Israeli life today?
    • Which plants play an important role in our own lives?
  • Have students take “portraits” of some of the plants or trees that contribute significantly to our lives.
  • Photocopy the “Curriculum sample texts” related to the environment/Ha-S’vivah. Have each student choose one text and take a photograph that illustrates that text.

 

Halachah U’mesorah (הלכה ומסורה) – Jewish Life and Tradition:

  • Have students complete WorksheetQ or explore the photograph, questions, and texts through class discussion.
  • Have students take photographs in school that reflect the value of halachah u’mesorah, or have them create and photograph a series of “tableaux”—staged scenes—that depict the value.
  • Have students view Photograph Upsherin. Ask each student to write a story about what he or she thinks is happening in the photograph. Then share the actual story of the photograph and discuss:
    • How does the custom of upsherin relate to the value of “tradition”?
    • Why is it important to pass the Jewish tradition on to younger generations?
    • What other ways do we pass on the traditions?
  • Have students take still-life photographs that combine Jewish ritual objects in interesting ways to reflect what they believe are important aspects of Jewish tradition. Students can accompany their photographs with written statements that explain the objects and their significance.

Throughout your study of Jewish values, help students understand that one’s values influence the way one acts within a community. For example, if Zionism is a key value for you, you might become involved in a fundraising effort for Israel. If you value tikkun olam, you might volunteer for an environmental organization. And if you value respect for others, you might simply behave kindly toward your family, friends, and neighbors.

 Discuss the ways we express our values through our actions—and ways we don’t. For example, think about Bar and Bat Mitzvah parties. On the one hand, they celebrate an important Jewish life-cycle event. On the other hand, the money spent on food or party favors could perhaps be spent more constructively elsewhere. What do your students think?

 And what about times when students’ personal values come into conflict with their Jewish values—for example, when a Friday night dance or basketball game pits one’s value for social popularity against the value of Shabbat or family. How do they respond?

 Have students think of ways to translate their values into action within their community. For a given value, discuss:

  • How does this value influence my daily life?
  • What broader social issues does it relate to?
  • What actions does it lead to?

Have students complete and discuss Worksheet R (Applying Values) to help them reflect on the ways we translate our values into practice.