Unit II. Visualizing Values - Lesson 9: Prioritizing Jewish Values


 50 minutes


Worksheet J (completed for homework)
List of Jewish values from previous session
Chart paper and markers for students
Blackboard or chart paper


Make sure that you have enough chart paper and markers for each group.  Have your class list of Jewish values on hand.


In this lesson, students refine and prioritize the list of key Jewish values that they began to formulate in the previous lesson.

Big Idea:

All Jewish communities share essential Jewish values, although various groups may interpret or define these values in slightly different ways.

Homework Review (5 minutes):

  1. Review students’ responses to Worksheet J, which they completed for homework.
  2. Discuss:
    • Do you agree with Hillel’s characterization of the essence of Judaism?
    • What do you think are the essential teachings of Judaism?
    • How does this relate to or inform our discussion of Jewish values from last time?


Prioritize Values in Small Groups (15 minutes):

  1. Break class into small groups.
  2. Give each group a sheet of chart paper and a marker and have each group choose someone to take notes.
  3. Revisit the list of Jewish values you developed last time. Ask each group to organize the class’s growing list into the ten Jewish values they think are most important within their community. Ask groups to prioritize their values from most important to least important.


Regroup to Discuss List of Values (20 minutes):

There is no “correct” number of Jewish values, but ten is a useful goal for your class list. If your list has significantly more than ten, try to get students to reorganize it so they end up with a more manageable number.
Look here for sample lists of Jewish values.

  1.  Bring the groups back together and have each group share their list.
  2. Have the class work together to create a list that everyone generally agrees on. You may want to interject some ideas (for example, helping to name or consolidate the categories).
  3. Write your class’s final list on the blackboard or on chart paper.


Wrap-Up (10 minutes):

Take a look at your list and discuss some of the following questions with students:

  • Is this list specific to your community?
  • Does it define your community?
  • Do you think other communities would come up with different lists?
  • If you were a secular community, how many of these values would still be up there?
  • How many of these values are universal? How many are American?
  • Do you think some values are more important than others? Which ones? Why?
  • Is it possible to be part of this community and not hold one or more of these values personally?
  • Do you think that some of these values would have less or more weight if you were a Jew living in Israel?


For Homework:

Before class ends, ask students to copy the list of values generated by the class. For homework, have them create Venn diagrams showing how they think these values relate to American values, universal values, and their own personal values.