The aim of this activity is to examine the patterns of occupational development in the students’ families and in the community, making comparisons between them and suggesting implications for the future development of the community. Because of the need for privacy and the difficulties of talking about current economic states in the students’ families, we will restrict ourselves to the question of occupation in relation to the students themselves.

  • The students must prepare for this activity by examining the occupational story of their family through the last few generations. If the family came from another country during this period, the students should try to obtain information about the generation of immigrants and those following it. It is best to take only one side of the family, either the mother’s or the father’s.
  • Divide the board into a number of different vertical sections. Each student has a horizontal line running through all the vertical sections from right to left. Each student will tell something of the family situation in each specific generation, stating the occupation or profession of the people in question. If some have information reaching back about four generations, start with them and put the details about the fourth generation into one section. The students should try to supply information about both sexes of this generation. Move on to the section of the board dealing with the third generation, the second one, and finally, the current generation of the student’s parents. Mark clearly with a sign when the particular generation under discussion is one of immigrants. At the end of this exercise, you should have four columns under which you have listed a series of professions or occupations, with each family occupying one horizontal line. You may have marked some of these occupations or professions in each section with the immigrant sign.
  • Divide the group into smaller groups. They are researchers who must examine the basic data on the board very carefully. Each group must suggest as many general trends as they can find regarding the occupational information on the board. For example, one conclusion may be that we only see a trend toward professions in the third generation. Another suggestion may be that the women’s occupations have changed over time, with each generation showing a different percentage of working women.
  • Now bring the class back together and list the trends suggested, examining whether these suggestions are borne out by the information on the board. Each person should write the list of trends that the class has accepted as valid.
  • Discuss with the group whether the trends that seem to characterize the class should be considered correct for the entire community. Do the families in the class represent a general cross-section of the families in the community? Are there significant sections of the community that are not represented? How may those sections change the general picture?
  • Back in their small groups, the student should now discuss the implications of these trends and of any extra information regarding the non-representative character of the class. They should now prepare a general report showing the changes in the community structure that the trends reflect.
  • Back together with the entire class, each group should explain its position. Now explain the usually accepted model of Jewish post-immigrant communities, as outlined above. Is this the model reflected in your community? If not, why may this be the case?
  • At the end of this part of the discussion, you should ask the group additional questions. Do they see as positive the general trends that they think they have identified? Do they expect these trends to continue? What predictions may they make for the future of the community from an economic/occupational point of view in another generation’s time?




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10 Dec 2006 / 19 Kislev 5767 0