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Curriculum

Making Our Wilderness Bloom: Women Who Made American Jewish History

Cover Image: Making Our Wilderness Bloom

Making Our Wilderness Bloom is a creative curriculum that engages students in Jewish women's rich contributions to the American Jewish community and to American society more broadly. Making Our Wilderness Bloom enables students to hear the voices of Jewish women across the centuries, through primary historical material such as letters, newspaper articles, interviews, organizational reports, photographs, and memoirs. These primary documents are accompanied by biographies of featured Jewish women, historical background information, and explorations of related Jewish values.

The complete curriculum provides a comprehensive Teacher's Guide and more than 200 pages of Student Resources for three adaptable units on these primary themes:

  • Settling in America: Jewish Immigration to America, 1654–2004
  • Religious Life: Women Transforming Jewish Leadership, Education, and Ritual
  • Ahavat Yisrael: Women Working on Behalf of Jews and Israel
  • Pikuach Nefesh: Women Saving Lives through Medicine and Health
  • Human Rights: Working for Women's Rights, Civil Rights, and Economic Justice
  • Bringing Us Up To Date and Back Home: Our Lives and Communities

Although initially developed for middle and high school students, Making Our Wilderness Bloom is being used by educators across the country for learners of all ages, in both formal and informal educational contexts including teen retreats, rosh hodesh groups, social justice projects, family education programs, and adult education courses. In the classroom, the curriculum can be implemented as a 10 to 15 session elective on American Jewish history or as individual lessons on Jewish history, Jewish values, or leadership and role models. The Teacher's Guide includes suggestions for incorporating the material into family education programs or weekend youth retreats.

Download Samples from the curriculum

• from Unit 1: Settling in America (PDF)
• from Unit 2: Ahavat Yisrael (PDF)

(Full text is available online via Google Books)

What people are saying about Making Our Wilderness Bloom

"The material is great. Very hands-on, interesting and easy to adapt to our curriculum in a variety of grades."
—Judi Berliner, Am Shalom, Glencoe, IL

"Fantastic! This is something I can take directly to the classroom. I want to teach this myself in a multi-generational family education program."
—Dawn Friedman, Director of Education, Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation, Deerfield, IL

"This curriculum is not only a real innovation in multi-disciplinary teaching and learning but also a tremendous step forward for the teaching of Jewish history. Each learner, regardless of background, gender or previous knowledge can actively engage with his or her own family and personal history, and open a new window on the American Jewish experience by creating meaningful and lasting connections."
—Sara Shapiro-Plevan, Director of Education, Congregation Habonim, New York, NY

"A wonderful work. Though designed to teach a teenage audience, there is much in it that would engage parents and grandparents as well. You have provided a solid basis for continuing conversations about the brave Jewish women in USA history... The curriculum should encourage today's young people to aspire, achieve, and contribute to the well being of others."
—US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Curriculum." (Viewed on October 20, 2014) <http://jwa.org/teach/curriculum>.

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