Israel Module - Seven For A Minyan – Departure and Expulsion of Jews from Arab Countries and Iran

Seven For A Minyan – Lesson in honor of November 30, the Day to Mark the Departure and Expulsion of Jews from the Arab Countries and Iran

Dr. Michal Schwartz

In this lesson, we will become acquainted with the issue of the expulsion and departure of Jews from Arab countries. The lesson plan includes a slide presentation for classroom use, and a worksheet for individual or group work. Learning takes place with the aid of a map, texts, and a photograph from the Jewish Lens gallery.




 Subject November 30 – the Day to Mark the Departure and Expulsion of Jews from the Arab Countries and Iran – a lesson plan in cooperation with the Jewish Lens
Development Team team
Recommended Age Level Grades 6-8
Place in the Syllabus November 30

Study of the Jewish communities in Moslem countries

Duration 2 lessons
Aims of the Activity
  1. Familiarization with the geographic distribution of the Jewish communities in Moslem countries, and general information about them.
  2. Study of sources: personal testimonies from people who lived in those countries, and different attitudes regarding the desire to live there.
  3. Development of skills in observation and deriving information from a photograph.
  4. Development of the ability to integrate obtaining information from visual texts and verbal texts.


Lessons 1, 2


Stage 1 – Discussion

Explain to the class as a whole what this date marks, and the reason for the selection of this particular date. Ask the students for their opinion regarding the decision to mark this date, and specifically on this particular date. (Teacher’s Information Sheet attached)

Screen the first slide in the presentation.


Ask how the information in the slide relates to the day that we are marking.


  1. Are there students who parents or grandparents come from Moslem countries, and list the names of those countries on the board.
  2. What do the students know of life in those countries. Collect the information, and write it on the board.


Display the map showing the distribution of the communities on the board, and review the information connected to the map for each country. Start with the countries that the students themselves mentioned.

From the data presented with the map, it can be seen that some of the communities existed for hundreds, or even thousands, of years.


  1. Did the students ever think that Jews had lived in those countries for so many generations?
  2. In their opinion, what influence did this have on them. They may relate to areas of similarity or influence such as language, dress, food, building styles, music, and so on. It is also important to relate to the ability to maintain the characteristics of Jewish culture. The languages typically spoke by the Jews (in Iraq and Morocco, for example, they spoke a form of Arabic unique to the Jews), customs, maintaining religious observance, Torah study, the traditional piyyutim, and so on.
  3. Can we understand the feeling of having lived in one place for many generations, and the situation in which, all at once, one has to leave that place?
  4. What thoughts or feelings, in the students’ view, are involved in such a situation? Try to encourage the expression of differing views.
  5. Following the discussion, what would they want to know about these people who left or were expelled from those countries?


The information and the map indication that most of these communities no longer exist, and those that still remain are limited in size.

Display the table with population data to the group.


  1. What does the table present? The number of Jews in the various countries at different points in time.
  2. What can be learned from it? The largest community, the smallest, how many left, and when. Trends, when did the change take place…
  3. What can’t we learn from the table? Why the communities shrank so much, where the people went, whether they left of their own free will or were forced to leave, the reasons for them leaving…


In this lesson, because of time constraints, we will not dwell on the reasons for the expulsion or departure of the Jews from each country. Through personal testimonies, we will look at different attitudes toward life in those countries.


Stage 2 – Group Work with the Source Sheet

Distribute the Source Sheet to the students.

The source sheet presents two descriptions by Jews who lived in communities in Arab countries. Let the students read their testimonies, and answer the questions that follow.

This assignment can be done in groups or in pairs.


Discuss in class

  1. From these testimonies, what can we learn about life in Moslem countries?
  2. Is it possible to understand why there were those who left of their own accord, and those who were expelled?
  3. Do you know of members of your own families who were forced to leave, or who immigrated to Israel of their own accord?



Stage 3 – Looking at the Picture


By means of the picture, we will learn about the present situation of the Jewish communities in Arab countries and Iran.

We will focus on the community of Djerba, in Tunisia, as a specific example.

The photograph being displayed is from photographer Zion Ozeri’s Jewish Lens project.

Ozeri visits communities across the world, and documents them through photography. Ozeri visits both flourishing communities, such as those in the United States or Israel, and those that are dwindling. His documentation is of great importance for a number of reasons, and he provides us with a great deal of knowledge.

Display the photograph to the class.

Guidelines for viewing the photograph

Attached are general guidelines for working with Jewish Lens photographs as part of a lesson plan.

Carefully read the instructions in the document before the activity. The information that you will collect from the photograph is very important for understanding the significance of this day.



Suggesting hypotheses, asking questions

On the board, write the questions and hypotheses that have been suggested. For example:

  1. What is taking place in the photograph?
  2. Objects, location, those present: what is the primary function of the place?
  3. Who is present, who is missing?
  4. If we were able to hear what was happening there at the time the photograph was taken, what would it sound like?
  5. Looking for apparent inconsistencies in the photograph. Is the space appropriate for what is going on? The difference between the magnificence of the building and the condition of those sitting there.



Obtaining information about the photograph

Show the whole class the information about the photograph. Where it was taken, by whom, who and what was photographed.

Show the class the text in the presentation that relates to the photograph.


Stage 4 – Classroom Discussion

  1. Based on what can be seen in the picture and the information in the text, is it clear what the synagogue is so magnificent?
  2. According to the photograph and the text, what can we say about the people who have been photographed?
  3. What do we know about the community in Djerba from these two sources?
  4. Can we draw conclusions about the state of the community before their departure?
  5. What can we say about the differences between life in Djerba before the Jews left, and now?
  6. Try to extract as much information as possible about the community, and develop a general statement related to the significance of November 30th, based on the picture and the text.
  7. What feelings does the photograph generate in you, after having read the information in the text?

Summarize the lesson with the question that appears in the presentation.

Stage 5 – Assignment for the Students

The assignment is to collect first-hand testimonies from people who lived in those countries and came to Israel. Many students are the children or grandchildren of people who came from those countries. This encounter is an opportunity to create a new kind of relationship, and to make the adults into a source of information that is relevant to what is being studied. The students can be organized into teams of two or three (not all of them will have family members of acquaintances who can be interviewed).

Students will interview and photograph – Instructions for the interview and for photography can be found in Interviewing and Photographing.


Options for extension to an additional lesson

Give a short review of the topic that we are dealing with. You can show the photograph again, and then move on to the students’ work.

In this lesson:

  1. The students will present their interviews and photographs
  2. They will talk about their experience. Did they learn new things about their families that they had not known previously? Was it interesting to find these things out? Do they want to know more?


Options for presentation of the students’ work

  1. The students will show the photograph that they took in class, and will present the details that they wrote on the Photographer’s Record Sheet.
  2. The assignment can be uploaded to the student’s individual padlet, as part of their overall collection of assignments on various topics. At the end of the process, the students will have assembled a digital portfolio of assignments. This may also serve as a system of alternative assessment.
  3. Group presentation, using the class padlet. In the center of the board is the picture from the Jewish Lens project, and around it pictures and texts by the students.

(Instructions for using the padlet can be found here)

A further option is to upload the assignments to an emaze presentation.

* All of the photographs are from the Jewish Lens website. Teachers may also make use of photographs that are not included in the lesson plans.