Living the Legacy

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Moving Inward: bringing liberation movements into the Jewish community

Unit 3 , Lesson 4

Jewish Women's Archive - Living the Legacy

http://jwa.org/LivingtheLegacy

Moving Inward: bringing liberation movements into the Jewish community

Lesson plan:
  1. Introduction

    1. If you have done any of the earlier lessons in Unit 3 with your class, remind them of the rifts that developed between blacks and Jews in the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1960s. These rifts led many Jews to feel their involvement in the Civil Rights Movement was resented by blacks or that they had different priorities and needed to leave the Civil Rights Movement.

      OR

      If you haven't done any of the earlier lessons in Unit 3, provide some general background about the rifts that developed between blacks and Jews in the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1960s. (See the introductory essay from previous lessons in Unit 3 on this topic.) These rifts led many Jews to feel their involvement in the Civil Rights Movement was resented by blacks or that they had different priorities and needed to leave the Civil Rights Movement.
    2. Explain that throughout history, people working for the liberation of one group have started to notice ways in which their own community suffered from oppression and it inspired them to work to liberate themselves (for example, white women working in the antislavery movement in the 19th century). This also happened within the Civil Rights Movement, especially after the rise of Black Power, when African Americans pointed out that they should be leading the movement to liberate themselves, and that whites in the movement should be working on their own issues. Taking that lesson to heart, some white men began to focus on anti-war activism (which affected them in particular through the draft) and some white women began to focus on women's liberation. In addition to these movements, some Jews began to think about their own experiences of cultural oppression and develop ethnic pride and Jewish institutions that would help Jews learn about their own roots. (Other racial and ethnic groups, too, such as Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans, also learned from the example of Black Power and developed movements that focused on building their own power.)
  2. New Views: Photo Study

    1. Show your class the photographs by Bill Aron, Sukkot, Connecticut and Simchat Torah, included in the Images of the Jewish Community Document StudyImages of the Jewish Community Document StudyImages of the Jewish Community Document Study (For Teacher). As you show your class each photograph, ask some or all of the questions found in the Document Study.
  3. Liberation Movements Document Study and Theater Activity

    1. Have each group read and discuss one of the Document Studies. Each group should then prepare two tableux vivants ("living pictures" – see Notes to Teacher) using the instructions provided in their Document Study.
    2. Once each group has completed their Document Study, bring the class back together. Invite each group up to perform their tableaux vivants in a stage area you've set up. (The stage could be at the front of the classroom, or it could be in the round.) When it is their turn, group members should go to the "stage" area, setup their first tableau vivant showing "the way things were." After holding that pose for 20-30 seconds, group members should move into the second pose to illustrate the change the activists wanted to make. After holding that pose for 20-30 seconds, the group can come out of their pose, but must stay in character.
    3. Speaking in character, the group then communicates to the class who they are, what concerns they have, whether their activism is focused within the Jewish community or not, how they see their struggle as connected to the Civil Rights Movement (if at all), and how they plan to bring about the change they want to see (if known from the document read). The teacher and other students in the class can ask questions, with group members responding as best they can in character. (If questions are raised that the students and teacher don't have answers to, use it as an opportunity to do some focused research on the given topic.)
    4. After everyone has performed their tableaux vivants, take your students through the process of reviewing and discussing what they learned, and reflecting on the experience of taking on the roles of the activists and designing their tableaux vivants (you may want to write the students' responses to the first few questions on the board):
      • What were the different movements discussed in the documents you studied?
      • Which of these movements were focused within the Jewish community? Which were focused outside of the Jewish community?
      • In what ways did the Jewish groups address issues specific to the Jewish community? In what ways did they remain connected to other social justice issues/movements?
      • What did Jewish activists learn from their experience with the Civil Rights Movement and other liberation movements?
      • With limited time and resources, how do you think you can balance work within and work outside the Jewish community (or a focus on changing the Jewish community and also changing the rest of the world)? Do you think you have to "liberate" yourself before you can work on the liberation of others? Why or why not?
      • Reiterate that the Jewish community began to change as the result of a new Jewish consciousness that developed in the late 1960s and 1970s. Many of these changes could be seen in every day Jewish life, and many are still with us today.
      • What was it like to take on the characters you created, based on your documents?
      • What did you find easy to communicate through your tableaux vivants? What wasn't as easy to get across? Why?
  4. Looking Forward

    Note: This activity may be done in the classroom or as a written homework assignment depending on the amount of time you have.

    1. Ask your students to think about Jewish life today and the communities they are part of, using the following questions:
      • Do you think we have achieved what these groups were trying to do? If not, why not? If yes, how have these groups helped to change what the Jewish community looks like? Give specific examples.
      • Are their goals still our goals today? What other goals for the Jewish community or the outside world do we have today? If we succeed with these goals what might the Jewish community of tomorrow look like? What might the world of tomorrow look like?
      • How do you imagine students in the future might portray the Jewish community you live in today, if they were to do this activity? What issues might they identify as major concerns of your time?

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Living the Legacy - Lesson: Moving Inward: bringing liberation movements into the Jewish community." (Viewed on April 17, 2014) <http://jwa.org/teach/livingthelegacy/civilrights/moving-inward-bringing-liberation-movements-into-jewish-community>.