The aim of this activity is to examine in practical terms whether - and how - to help the newly emerging communities in Eastern Europe, and to encourage the students to take a personal stand on this question.

  • Divide the group up into five smaller groups. Assign a different identity to each one, representing the international headquarters of one of the following organizations or groups in the contemporary Jewish world.

The World Reform Movement. (Reform Judaism).

The World Conservative Movement. (Conservative Judaism).

The World Zionist Movement.

Habad Hassidut.

The American Joint Distribution Committee.

  • Introduce the groups to each other.
  • Explain to the groups that it is 1990. The Iron Curtain recently fell and democratic regimes are beginning to emerge all over East and East Central Europe. The question has arisen about the need for Jewish organizations to start getting involved in these countries in order to stimulate the revival of the Jewish communities there. It was recently been suggested that they start the process off by involvement in the Hungarian Jewish community.

    Each group is given approximately ten minutes to decide whether it should get involved in the Hungarian community. They must prepare an explanation of their decision for the wider community. After a few minutes, give each group a note saying that the other four groups have all decided to get involved. Does this affect their decision?

  • When the groups are ready they should re-assemble. Each should explain whether they have decided to get involved in Hungary and the reason(s) for their decision. We postulate that the groups will indeed decide to get involved. On the assumption that they do, ask them difficult questions about their competitive attitude towards the other groups. If the other groups are getting involved, why do they have to get involved too? Surely it would be better to avoid competition, which is wasteful? If they decide not to get involved, accuse them of isolationism. Why are they turning their backs on their brothers and sisters? If they have a real message, surely they should try and spread it to the wider Jewish world?
  • If there are groups who decided not to get involved, now tell them that the executive membership of their movement has overruled them, and is instructing them to get involved.
  • Each group must now define the goals that it wishes to achieve in Hungary. What are their goals for, say, a five-year period? What changes within the Hungarian community would the movement consider success? Which of these goals, if any, should they attempt to achieve together with strategic partners from the other four movements?

    You may want to let this develop into a fully-fledged simulation, with overtures being made to the other groups for common action on certain initiatives. Decide how you wish to respond to this idea: not only can it add to enjoyment of the exercise, but it may also augment the lessons that can be drawn from the activity. It can also be messy, however, and take longer than the basic activity.

  • Whether or not you go in that direction, the main part of the activity is for each group, having worked out its goals, to draw up a detailed plan of action that is calculated to maximize the achievement of those goals. All the groups should understand that their resources are not unlimited. You have the prerogative to disqualify as unrealistic any plans that seem to be so.
  • They should present their plans of action and then discuss questions of common goals and methods. Initially this should be done in role but, at a certain point, the students should disregard their roles and speak for themselves.
  • Finally, the students should discuss whether the international Jewish community should indeed get involved in a situation like that of Hungary. This discussion was held at an earlier part of the activity, but at that point, the students were in their roles as representatives of different movements and organizations. Now they are speaking as themselves.





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10 Dec 2006 / 19 Kislev 5767 0