Michelle Boyle

Michelle is sixth-grade Humanities Teacher and Middle School Advisor & Community Engagement Coordinator at the Jewish Community Day School in Watertown, MA. Her lesson plan, “What Does It Mean To Be A Jewish Feminist?,” is an elective for students in grades 5–8, who learn how women and men might define themselves as feminists, then conduct independent research and present their findings to the class.

What Does It Mean To Be A Jewish Feminist?

Students explore the definition of feminism using a pluralistic lens, and consider the intersections between Judaism and feminism in their own lives, and in the lives of those with whom they engage on a daily basis.

Overview

Enduring Understandings

  • Feminism and Judaism are not mutually exclusive, and in fact, they coexist and interact with one another in interesting and dynamic ways.
  • Jewish people of all genders can define feminism through their own religious identity and practice.
  • Educating ourselves about social issues can help us develop informed opinions, which can help us effect positive social change.

Essential Questions

  • What are the constraints that feminism has in Jewish spaces? Alternately, what are the possibilities for feminism to exist within a Jewish space?
  • How can we expand our own views on social issues and disadvantaged groups?
  • How can understanding social issues help us to take action and make a difference?

Materials Required

  • Computers, internet access, PowerPoint or Google presentation
  • Legal size paper/chart paper (depending on number of students in your class)
  • Writing utensils

Notes to Teacher

  • The full unit consists of four lessons (correlating to parts 1-4 in the lesson plan below), which can be taught over the course of 4-5 classes.
  • Part 1 (a) can be followed by a class discussion, or students may write their own responses and then exchange them with one another to engage in written dialogue
  • The course is designed for Jewish students in grades 5-8.

The “Teacher Resources” section contains examples of other articles students can use as part of their topic research

Lesson plan

Part One

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  • Begin class by projecting a blog entry from either Jewesses with Attitude (see “Document Studies” below) for the entire class to read together.
  • Post six quotes that capture the important points of the chosen article around the room (with blank space around the quote for students to write and respond to each other).
  • Instruct students to spread out and write a response and/or question to each quote, and then move on to the next quote and do the same.
  • Have students rotate through the quotes, and then ask them to go back around and respond to each other on the same paper .
  • After this activity, facilitate a class discussion about the quotes and responses.

Part Two

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  • Ask students to name the issues that were covered in Part One, and make a list of them on the board.
  • Discuss intersections and connections between the various topics, and create a mind map.

Part Three

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  • Have students choose partners based on a topic on which they’re both interested in doing further research.
  • Have students visit the Jewish Women’s Archive website again to read blog posts related to their chosen topic and consider how these posts can help them think about how to tackle their chosen issue.  
  • Have students begin conducting research on their topic (Either in class or at home).

Part Four

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  • Students present their findings to the class in the form of a PowerPoint presentation.
  • After each presentation, discuss multiple perspectives on the issue/topic, and address potential solutions.
Teacher resources

Jewish Women’s Archive—Women of Valor

Lilith magazine

JTA: The Global Jewish News Source:

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Michelle Boyle, 2015 Twersky Award finalist.

Courtesy of Michelle Boyle.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Michelle Boyle." (Viewed on May 24, 2019) <https://jwa.org/twersky/michelle-boyle>.

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