Consider how Jewish experiences and values – in both conscious and unconscious ways – informed the actions of Jews in the Civil Rights Movement, and inform our own allegiances and behaviors.
Learn about Lilith’s long and varied history, and consider how her story reflects changing perspectives on powerful women.
Investigate what it means for American Jews to celebrate Passover and the Fourth of July in the context of religious and national freedom, by reading an editorial from the April 1897 issue of The American Jewess.
Consider the economic and social forces that shaped Jewish immigrants' everyday lives and meet real-life workers and factory owners.
In this lesson, students have the opportunity to explore different definitions of the word “hero.” They discuss why (and if) heroes are important and do research about individuals they consider to be heroes. Lastly, students are asked to think about which of their own actions could be considered heroic and how they serve as role models for friends, peers, and family members.
Originating from Cape Town, South Africa, Tali Puterman now lives in Boston and works as the Social Justice Educator and Community Organizer at Temple Israel of Boston. Tali received her MA in Educational Studies from Tufts University and her BA from Brandeis University. Reacting to her own experiences of miseducation growing up White in post-Apartheid South Africa attending an Orthodox Jewish day school, Tali challenges students to question and confront injustices and see themselves as Jewish leaders of change.
Learn about this fascinating story from Genesis, which is not often discussed. Explore how Tamar takes action to provide herself with what she needs, once she realizes that no one else is going to give it to her.
Rachael Cerrotti is a documentary photographer, writer and educator. Her storytelling focuses on narratives of resilience with a unique interest in family history. For nearly a decade, Rachael has been pursuing her long-term project, Follow My Footprints, retracing her grandmother's route of displacement during and in the wake of World War II. She is now writing a book about this journey and regularly speaks in communities and classrooms across the country and abroad.
Explore the concept of “Bread and Roses” and ideas about work and dignity, with specific cases on education and culture, hats and clothing, poetry and song, as well as traditional Jewish texts about labor.
Learn about the founding of the State of Israel from the perspective of Zipporah Porath, a young American woman who joined the Zionist effort in 1947.
Consider what contemporary civil rights and social justice issues matter to us today, and how Jews and African Americans determine their priorities and responsibilities to effect social change.
In this activity, students will explore their personal values and develop a deeper understanding of how values inform their identities and actions. This activity makes a great compliment to a service learning project, or an introduction to tikkun olam and other actions that are informed by Jewish values.
Learn about Judith’s bravery in the face of extreme danger, and consider how her story can inspire us to harness our own hidden power.
Consider Miriam’s experience of exile and investigate the parallels between her story and moments of alienation and isolation in your own life.
Judy is a middle school teacher at two synagogue schools. Her winning lesson plan called “What Will It Cost Me To Work For You?” connects Jewish stories from the Labor Movement to contemporary labor issues in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
What Will It Cost Me to Work for You?
Through learning about Judaism’s views on labor, as well as about Jewish women in the labor movement, students will explore realistic responses to unfair labor conditions in the US and overseas today.
Michael is a rabbi and educator at Beth Chaim Congregation in Danville, CA. His lesson plan, “Selling Soap, Smashing Sexism, Seeing Ourselves” uses Torah and images of art and advertising to teach students about how women are viewed in the media, as well as to create their own artwork inspired by Jewish artist Barbara Kruger.
Selling Soap, Smashing Sexism, Seeing Ourselves
In this lesson, students explore the work of Jewish artist Barbara Kruger, and learn how to look critically at images of women in advertising.
Explore the role of community organizing, Jewish values, and moral conviction in the lives of young civil rights activists as you imagine yourself a participant in Mississippi Freedom Summer.
Through the history of mutual aid societies, unions, and settlement houses, as well as contemporary organizations working for labor rights, consider the ways Jews have supported one another and also worked in solidarity with others to repair the world.
Explore contemporary Jewish labor campaigns on issues such as the living wage and the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, and analyze how and why Jewish organizations are advocating in solidarity with oppressed workers.
Explore Hurricane Katrina as an example of how Jews respond to catastrophe. Gail Chalew, a Jewish reporter from New Orleans, tells the story of Haley Fields, a thirteen year old girl from Los Angeles, who came up with her own unique way of helping those in need.
Study several traditional Jewish texts and apply the concepts in these texts to the stories and characters in the game. Think about the lessons Judaism teaches about the responsibilities of workers and employers.
Reuven is a religious studies and American history teacher at a Modern Orthodox high school. His lesson plan uses primary sources as the basis for exploring Jewish experiences from two important tactics of the Civil Rights Movement: The Freedom Rides and Freedom Summer.
Civil Disobedience and the Freedom Rides
Explore Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights movement, and consider how we can use this knowledge to combat ongoing institutionalized racism with civil disobedience.
Deborah is Director of Congregational Learning at Congregation Har Shalom in Potomac, MD. Her winning lesson plan, “Confirmation: Joining the Legacy”, teaches students about the history of Confirmation.
Confirmation: Joining the Legacy
Through learning key aspects of the history of Confirmation, students will develop a sense of connection to past Confirmands, and thus see their Confirmation as connected to Jewish heritage.
Discover how recipes can tell stories about Jewish history and its ever-changing rich cultural diversity.
Learn how Hannah attempted to change her life by calling on God for help, and consider the power of asking for what you need or want in your own life.
Learn about the disturbing story of Yiftach’s Daughter (“Bat Yiftach” in Hebrew), and consider how it reflects the importance of balancing religious beliefs with the reality of the world we live in.
Analyze how underlying rifts in the relationship between African Americans and Jews brought these groups into more overt conflict in the late 1960s, with a focus on the Ocean Hill-Brownsville school crisis and a poetry slam activity.
Explore the complexities of our own identities, and how these identities shape the way we view and act in the world.
Assess Jewish attitudes towards Affirmative Action as an example of how individuals and communities try to manage competing priorities.
Consider Rachel and Leah’s intertwined story and complicated relationship as sisters, and reflect on both the positive and challenging aspects of sisterhood.
Learn about Jewish immigration and the development of the Jewish community in America through a 1790s letter, originally written in Yiddish by Rebecca Samuel to her parents in Hamburg, Germany, describing her life in Petersburg, Virginia.
Discover the little-known history of American Jewish farming and explore the contemporary resurgent Jewish interest in food justice. Analyze traditional and modern texts about Jewish values and food production and consumption, and design your own vision for how society should produce, distribute, and consume food.
Allyson was a teacher in a 4-6 mixed grade class at a Montessori-inspired supplemental school. Her winning lesson plan “Esthers and Vashtis in the Labor Movement” asks students to compare Jewish labor activists to the well-known Purim characters through audio recordings, articles, and photographs.
Who will you be? Esthers and Vashtis in the Labor Movement
Analyze the rise of the labor movement and the Jewish women who were instrumental in it, in terms of the female characters in the Purim story: Esther and Vashti.
One of the most famous stories in Genesis is the Binding of Isaac by his father Abraham (the Akeidah, in Hebrew). Sarah, Isaac’s mother, is noticeably absent from the text. Here we consider Sarah’s perspective, and how this foundational event in the Jewish origin story might have affected her.
Encounter a little known story of women collaborating across geographic, racial, and religious boundaries through documentary clips of Wednesdays in Mississippi activists.
Analyze how power and privilege shape our relationships and involvement in social justice and activism, using sources including clips from the film Driving Miss Daisy.
Children of Loneliness, a short story by immigrant writer Anzia Yezierska, illustrates how one young woman's struggle to find her own place in American society tears her from her parents and their way of life.
After the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, labor rights activist Rose Schneiderman made a famous speech which provided the basis for investigating our communal and individual responsibilities for the well being of others in our midst.
Examine how individuals take stands against racism and injustice using an essay by Grace Paley and three other short vignettes of individual protest.
Use images, artifacts, and audio clips to develop a more nuanced understanding of the March on Washington.
In this activity, students learn about a part of their own family history and have the opportunity to practice interviewing and writing skills. To showcase their learning, students curate their own museum of family history artifacts.
Discover the story of one young Jewish Freedom Rider and Gandhi's principles of civil disobedience, and prepare your own civil disobedience training video.
Using the provocative image of "Tefillin Barbie"—created in 2006 by soferet (ritual scribe) Jen Taylor Friedman—examine the relationship between gender, body image, and ritual garb.
Unpack the roles, motivations, and challenges of Southern and Northern rabbis during the Civil Rights Movement.
Examine different ways that American Jewish women historically—and we today—fulfill the obligation of tzedakah (charity) and gemilut chesed (acts of loving kindness).
Investigate the dynamics of segregation in northern schools through a New York City court case ruled on by Judge and Jewish activist Justine Wise Polier.
Assume the roles of Southern Jews participating in a Temple board meeting on whether or not to support Northern Jewish activists staging a protest in town.
Explore and interrogate the identification between Jews and African-Americans against the backdrop of the Passover seder.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Lesson Plans." (Viewed on July 16, 2019) <https://jwa.org/teach/lessonplans>.