Unit II. Visualizing Values - Lesson 8: Jewish Values


 50 minutes


10-12 photographs by Zion Ozeri
Thumbtacks or tape (for hanging photos)
Several packs of small post-its
One or more dictionaries
Blackboard or chart paper
Worksheet J: On One Foot


Select 10-12 photographs by Zion Ozeri that you think are particularly rich in Jewish values. Tape or pin the photos up around the classroom before students arrive. Also have handy the list of “Personal Values” you compiled during the previous session.


In this lesson, students move from a discussion of personal values to a focus on Jewish values.  They try to identify the Jewish values reflected in Zion Ozeri’s photographs and begin to compile a list of core Jewish values.

Big Idea:

Jewish life around the world, as depicted in Zion Ozeri’s photographs, is guided by a core set of Jewish values.

Introduction (5 minutes):

  1.  Review the list of “Personal Values” you made during the previous lesson.
  2. Discuss:
    • This is a list of some of the things we, as individuals, value. Are there any ideas, beliefs, or actions that we all value? What are some examples?
    • What exactly is a “value”?


Introducing Jewish values (15 minutes):

  1. Ask a few students to look up the word value in one or more dictionaries. Share the definitions and discuss:
    • How does the concept of values relate to the words value or valuable?
    • Are values (arachim in Hebrew) different from rules? Customs? Ideals? How?
    • Where do values come from?
    • What makes some values Jewish?
    • What are some examples of Jewish values?
  2. Begin to make a list of Jewish values on the board.

In the most basic sense, values are those things that we as individuals or as a community deem valuable. Generally, though, when we speak of values, we refer to those beliefs that lead to actions that we consider right or good. We are all guided by personal values, which are informed by the cultural values we’ve been taught. Jewish values are an example of cultural values, embodied in the traditional teachings of Judaism—the Tanach (Hebrew Bible), the Mishnah, the Talmud, and other rabbinic writings—and reflected in the structures of Jewish life and practice. Nowhere in the traditional sources is there a definitive list of Jewish values, but certain ideals are widely considered to be core Jewish values. These include kindness to others, respect for elders, education, etc. Many of these core Jewish values are, of course, also shared by other religious and ethnic groups.
Look here for sample lists of Jewish values, as well as books and websites related to the topic of values.


Identifying Jewish Values (20 minutes):

  1.  Point out to students Ozeri’s photographs hanging on the walls. Make post-its available to students.
  2. Ask students to walk around the room, individually or in pairs, examining the photos. For each, students should jot down on post-its what Jewish value or values they see represented and post them on (or next to) the photo. Students should also read what others have posted.
  3. Regroup and discuss students’ responses to the photographs.


 Wrap-Up (10 minutes):

  1.  Revisit the list of Jewish values you began earlier in the lesson. Ask students:
    – Based on what you saw, what additional Jewish values would you add to our preliminary list?
  2. Add to the list of Jewish values as appropriate.


For Homework:

 Have students complete Worksheet J for homework.