JWA News Release: October 28, 2010
Contact: Judith Rosenbaum, 617-383-6762.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jewish Women’s Archive launches online curriculum
Living the Legacy: Jews in the Civil Rights Movement
Brookline, MA – October 28, 2010 – Until now, the standard narrative about the role of Jews in the Civil Rights Movement was predictable: it celebrated “heroic” male activists from northern states and lacked serious investigation into the complexities of what it meant for Jews to get involved or how Jewish experience influenced their participation in the struggle for civil rights. Today, the Jewish Women’s Archive (JWA) launches Living the Legacy (LTL), a new online curriculum that expands the standard narrative, revealing a rich, inclusive, and engaging history.
Living the Legacy is aimed at educators working with 8th-12th grade students in a variety of formal and informal Jewish education settings (including supplementary schools, day schools, service learning projects, and retreats). Designed to be extremely flexible and easy to use, the curriculum can be used in its entirety or an educator can select a few lessons or units. The LTL curriculum is free and accessible online at http://jwa.org/teach/livingthelegacy. A second module, focusing on Jews and the Labor Movement, is currently under development.
While there are many strong curricula and programs that explore the roots of Jewish commitment to social justice and tikkun olam, these resources do not offer an in-depth look at the history that today's young people inherit. The Living the Legacy curriculum fills this gap, providing lesson plans that expose students to many different perspectives from the Civil Rights and Labor Movements, allowing students to move beyond a simple "feel-good" narrative to one that is more complex and nuanced. LTL also models a gender inclusive history, giving voice to the stories of both women and men. The curriculum makes the history of Jews and social justice relevant by encouraging students to draw connections to their own lives and social justice activities. “The Civil Rights Movement is a natural entry point for connecting Jewish identity and social justice,” said Rabbi Michael Birnholz of Vero Beach, FL.
Living the Legacy provides models for teaching with primary sources, such as letters, articles, oral histories, photographs, and organizational records – material that opens windows into another time and place. “All of the text studies were engaging to my students. I was going to use only one or two, but they got so into them that I used them all,” said Beth Cook of Portland, OR, about her experience teaching the curriculum during the pilot phase. “It definitely made them think more about their own identities.”
The Living the Legacy civil rights module was the focus of JWA’s Summer 2010 Institute for Educators. “I am thrilled that we have a curriculum that emphasizes Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights Movement,” said Institute participant Liliane Baxter, Director of Education at the Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum in Atlanta. “I don’t know of any other curriculum like it. I so look forward to teaching our young people the Jewish contribution to shaping American history and democracy and the burning passion to make a difference in the world.”
The LTL curriculum was created by the Jewish Women's Archive. Director of Public History Judith Rosenbaum, Assistant Director for Educational Outreach Emily Scheinberg, and Curriculum Consultant Julia Philips Berger authored the curriculum. Web Producer Isaac Simon-Hodes was responsible for web development and user interface design.
Living the Legacy: A Jewish Social Justice Education Project was made possible in part by a grant from Covenant Foundation. Support for the Living the Legacy Institute for Educators is provided by the Dorot Foundation.
About the Jewish Women's Archive
The mission of the Jewish Women's Archive (JWA) is to uncover, chronicle, and transmit to a broad public the rich history of North American Jewish women. A national non-profit organization founded in 1995 and headquartered in Brookline, Massachusetts, JWA creates and disseminates educational materials, conducts original research, hosts public programs, and maintains an innovative website. Through web exhibits, online collection projects, and oral histories, JWA shares the stories, struggles, and achievements of North American Jewish women spanning many generations.