The aim of this activity is to reflect on the idea of the underpinnings of Jewish community through the traditional sources, adding depth to the concept and providing a framework for consolidating the student’s opinions.

  • Write the words on the board, making sure that everyone understands the language. Set a home assignment in which each student should write a story in the first person that expresses this title.
  • Some of the students should read their stories aloud.
  • Now you should discuss the phrase together with the class. Use the most suitable stories as illustrations. What do they have in common? What does the phrase mean? Explain where the phrase comes from, using - if appropriate - the quotes from Vayikra and Sifra.
  • Why did the rabbis consider it so important to develop this concept in the post-Second Temple era? What were they afraid of, should the Jews not internalize the concept? Mention the significance of the idea of the Temple’s destruction due to . How did the rabbis ‘read’ the problems of the Jewish people in the generation leading up to the destruction?
  • Give out the three rabbinic quotes (the injunction not to separate oneself from the community; the injunction not to close yourself up in your own four walls and the story of the ship). Divided into pairs, the students should consider to what extent they consider these three quotes relevant to the present situation of the Jewish community in their town or city. Do the quotes contain suitable messages for the community today, or do they represent an unnecessary guilt trip that the Jews in their community can well do without?
  • Gather the class together again and discuss the issue.
  • Following this, each person or pair should write their opinion, positive or negative, in the form of an opinion piece to the local Jewish newspaper. They should incorporate in this something about what they have learned regarding the situation of their community. Each piece must use at least one of the three rabbinic quotes. Think about sending one or two of the pieces to the newspaper (especially if the students express varying opinions).
  • Finally, you can sum up by drawing attention to the Biblical figure of Judah and explaining why the rabbis saw him as a paradigm for Jewish behavior. Add the midrashic idea, mentioned above, that we may have been called Jews precisely because of this!




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10 Dec 2006 / 19 Kislev 5767 0