The aim of this activity is to examine the question of aliyah as an act that is important to the Jewish people, and to question its implications for the student.

  • Ask the students to each write a short piece reflecting the decision to go on aliyah by someone from their own community. They should invent a persona and a biography for the individual, and then write a letter from that person to a close relative or a friend, explaining their decision to immigrate to Israel. They should talk about the reasons that brought them to the decision, as well as any doubts and questions that they have, despite which they are still going to try life in Israel. They should write down any plans that they have.
  • Divided into small groups, they should share their letters with each other. They should then list the collective reasons that have brought their characters to try life in Israel.
  • Some of the results of the work in small groups should be shared with the entire class. Did anything surprising or unexpected come from the groups? Were there common characteristics in the stories that the group members told each other? Make a list of all the reasons for going to Israel that have been offered by the entire class.
  • Make an opposite list of reasons that might hold people back or would not lead them to think in terms of aliyah. Have the two lists on the board.
  • We now suggest a class debate around the issue:

    Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people; all involved, serious Jews should consider aliyah.

    We suggest conducting the debate in the following manner: let each student write for him-/herself a list of points for and against the motion. Then elect the first two speakers who should speak for the motion (the proposer - the first speaker) and against (the opposer - the second). There should be place for them to stand in front of the class.

    After this, let anyone who wishes to speak come up and stand behind the proposer or the opposer. As soon as someone stands behind him/her, the speaker at the front of that line must leave and the new person takes their place. If no-one comes to take that position, the same person must stand there, putting forward their case. At a certain point - if too much time has elapsed without the person’s being changed - you may want to nominate someone else to take their place. Remember, if you nominate a person to take a position, they must defend, regardless of whether it is their personal opinion. You may also want to introduce other voices into the debate, if there are people whom you would like to see more involved. Once again, these people will defend the position to which they assigned.

  • At a certain point, stop the debate and discuss with the class their real, personal opinions. Which arguments were convincing to them and which were not? They should vote for the motion out of ‘character.’
  • Ask each individual to write down the following sentence, summing up the issue for them:

    I voted for/against the idea that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people and that all involved, serious Jews should consider aliyah, because…

  • Now ask them to write down whether they themselves would ever consider aliyah. Why? Why not? Is their position regarding themselves consistent with the position they took on the motion, or is there a contradiction? If there is, let them reflect on that, too.
  • Finally, with the entire class together, ask some of the students to share their thoughts from what they have just written.




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11 Dec 2006 / 20 Kislev 5767 0