Full Curriculum, Unit I: Through a Jewish Lens - Lesson 4: Your Jewish Lens

Time: 50 minutes
Materials: Laptop and projector or monitor
Cameras (one for every pair of students) – camera phones are acceptable
Several photographs by Zion Ozeri
Blackboard or chart paper 
Preparation: Have copies of several of Ozeri’s photographs available to distribute to students. Make sure cameras are fully charged and available for each pair of students. Set up projector or monitor so you will be able to display students’ work.
Overview: In this lesson, students consider the different “lenses” we all use to see ourselves and the world, and then take self-portraits using these different lenses.
Big Idea: Our “Jewish lens” influences the way we view the world, but it is only one of many lenses we use.


Introduction (10 minutes):

  1. Discuss:
    • This program is known as “The Jewish Lens.”  What is a lens?
    • What is a “Jewish” lens?
    • What do you think it means to look at the world through a Jewish lens?
  2. Divide students into pairs or small groups.
  3. Give each pair or group one of the photographs by Zion Ozeri.
  4. Ask each pair or group to discuss this question briefly among themselves:
    What makes this picture “Jewish”?
  5. Have students share their responses in a large-group discussion.

 Many Lenses (30 minutes):

  1.  Discuss:
    • What other lenses do we use to view our world?
      List students’ responses on the board
    • How do these different lenses affect the way we see things?
  2. Ask each student to choose one “lens” from those listed on the board.
  3. Have each student work with a friend to take a self-portrait using that lens. It could, for example, be a Jewish lens, a gender lens, a teenager’s lens, an American lens, a New Yorker’s lens, etc.If there’s time, you might have each student take two or three portraits, each representing a different lens.

 Wrap-Up (10 minutes):

  1.  Have students send you their pictures, and use the projector or monitor to share a couple of them with the class. Ask the students to present their photographs to the rest of the class.
  2. Discuss:
    • How do these different lenses affect the images we create?
    • How do our different lenses influence the way we see or interpret images we encounter?

 If you don’t have a projector or monitor available, you may need to split this lesson over two sessions. You will need to have the students send you their digital images electronically to be printed and shared next time.

For Homework:

 If you plan to do “Lesson 6: What Makes a Good Photograph?” next, have students bring in a printed copy of one or two of the photographs they’ve taken so far during the course that they think are visually interesting. You might also, or instead, have students bring in interesting photographs from home that were not taken as part of the course.