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Living the Legacy: A Jewish Social Justice Education Project

Living the Legacy (LTL), a new online educational resource from the Jewish Women's Archive, uses primary source exploration to bring to life the rich and deep history of American Jewish activism. Through the stories of both men and women, students uncover the role of American Jews in the Civil Rights and Labor Movements, strengthening their connection to American history and to the social justice issues present in today’s world. The 24 lessons that comprise LTL include art projects, text studies, role-playing opportunities, and more, providing new entry points to Jewish identification for young Jews interested in social justice.

Living the Legacy guides educators in teaching about Jews and social justice movements through the use of primary sources, such as letters, articles, oral histories, photographs, fiction, and organizational records. The curriculum also models a gender inclusive history, giving both women's and men's stories their rightful place in the history of American Jews and social justice.

Living the Legacy is aimed at educators working with 8th-12th grade students in a variety of formal and informal settings (including supplementary schools, day schools, service learning projects, and retreats). Designed to be extremely flexible, educators can use LTL in its entirety or select a few lessons or units to integrate into their teaching. Potential uses include programs commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day or May Day, youth group service learning projects, and inter-faith programs on Passover and liberation, in addition to uses for enriching existing history and values courses, and/or adding elective courses on civil rights, labor, or social justice.

Since the launch of the Civil Rights material in 2010, educators across North America have also used LTL in adult education programs, summer camps and youth groups, sisterhood programs, and elementary –age classrooms. The wide variety of primary sources and themes presented in LTL provides many access points for learners of all ages to explore the intersection of activism and Judaism in American history. JWA education staff members are always on hand to help educators find and adapt material to best fit their community’s specific needs.

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 teens inherit. Living the Legacy fills this gap, providing primary sources and lesson plans that expose students to many different voices from the Civil Rights and Labor Movements, allow students to move beyond a simple "feel-good" narrative into one with deep complexities, and encourage them to draw connections to their own lives.

The Living the Legacy civil rights module was the focus of JWA's Institutes for Educators in 2010, 2011, and 2012. To receive updates about opportunities to participate in upcoming professional development programs, sign up for our Education list.

For more information about Living the Legacy, email JWA Education Staff.

Authors: Judith Rosenbaum, Director of Public History; Etta King, Education Program Manager; Emily Scheinberg, Former Assistant Director for Educational Outreach; Julia Phillips Berger, Civil Rights Curriculum Consultant; and Lori Shaller, Labor Curriculum Consultant.

Web Production: Patrick Dash and Isaac Simon Hodes

Special Thanks to: Judith Belasco, Anne Berman-Waldorf, Heather Booth, Debby Brennan, Paul Buhle, Beth Cook, Katie Cook, Rachel Cowan, Jan Darsa, Shira Deener, Marc Dollinger, Irene Drantch and Camp Kinder Ring, Ari Lev Fornari, Vicki Gabriner, Lisa Gallatin, Janie Grackin, Jane Grise, Susannah Heschel, Terry Holtzman, Jill Jacobs, Jim Kates, Margie Klein, Rhonda Magier-Cohen, Anna Martin, Marlene McCurtis, Lottie Nilsen, Linda Okun, Kevin Proffit, Karen Raizen, Stuart Rockoff, Linda Rogers and Camp Kinderland, Alan Rosenberg, Barbara Rosenblit, Deborah Rosenstein (Research Assistant), Vivian Rothstein, Sara Salitan-Thiell, Judith Sandman, Debra Schultz, Rachel Shankman, Holly Cowan Shulman, Marilyn Sneiderman, Ann Toback, Sarah Trainin, Arthur Waskow, Cathee Weiss, Alissa Wise, Judy Wright, and Diane Zimmerman.

Living the Legacy: A Jewish Social Justice Education Project was made possible in part by funds granted by the Covenant Foundation.The statements made and the view expressed, however, are solely the responsibility of the authors.

Support for the Living the Legacy Institute for Educators is provided by the Dorot Foundation.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Living the Legacy: A Jewish Social Justice Education Project." (Viewed on September 22, 2014) <http://jwa.org/teach/livingthelegacy/about>.

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