Practical classroom activities and programs re the situation in Israel

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Below are practical suggestions for activities and programs that schools implemented around the year 2001 in reaction to the situation in Israel. Please note that links have been removed since unfortunately most are no longer relevant.

I. Online Resources

a) Appropriate Link List

Date: Tue, 15 May 2001 10:51:08 -0400
From: “Seligson, Sara” <>

BJE of NY has created an extensive list of appropriate links for schools to utilize within their programs dealing with the situation in Israel today.

Sara S. Seligson
Coordinator of Educational Technology
Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York
426 West 58th Street
New York, NY 10019

b) Online Power Point Show

Date: Wed, 9 May 2001 23:49:55 +0300
From: Reuven Werber <>

Dear Shalom,

On Yom Hazikaron LChallelei Maarchot Yisrael U’lnifgaei Peulot Hateror, the 10th grade students at Neveh Channah prepared the school ceremony & assembly. The ceremony, after half a year of the new Palestinian terror, emphasized the legacy of those who fell in defense of Medinat Yisrael, Am Yisrael. A special emphasis was placed on those who fell in the defense of Gush Etzion and especially Dr. Shmuel Gilis, Tzachi Sasson and Baruch Cohen Hashem Yikom Damam – Gush Etzion residents who were shot & killed by terrorists on the Jerusalem – Hebron road. One part of the ceremony was a 20 minute Hebrew Powerpoint 2000 Presentation with texts (in Ivrit), pictures, background music & narration (in Ivrit) put together by some of the students from the settlements of the Gush.

Anyone wanting to use the presentation or parts of it for educational purposes may download it and do so, if the credits are kept intact.

All the best,

Reuven Werber
Neveh Chanah Torah H.S. For Girls
Herzog Teacher’s College – Yeshivat Har Etzion
Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, Israel
Virtual Reference Desk Network Information Specialist

c) Honest Reporting

Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 01:59:13 +0200
From: Barnea and Shoshanah Selavan <>

Shalom – I am sending you this Honest Reporting piece as a suggestion for something that schools can do, related to the activism issue earlier discussed. I think that this is pretty eye opening.

Barnea Levi and Shoshanah Selavan Bonei Hachoma 1/4
Old Jerusalem (97500) ISRAEL
02 628-3488, 02-628-7850

On June 1, the Associated Press issued its first report of the heinous suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv disco that killed 20 young Israelis. The AP headline declared:


This one is so hard to believe that you have to read it twice. As initial reports from the scene showed scores of Jewish casualties, AP incredibly downplayed this bestial act as an “explosion,” and focused on the suffering — not of the innocent teens — but of the evil bomber.

One can only imagine what distortion ran through the mind of the AP editor who wrote this headline – and then sent it out over the AP wire to 8,500 newspapers around the world.

If you believe the AP reporting represents bias, send your complaints to:

The most effective method is to write a letter in your own words. Otherwise, cut-and-paste the critique below.


To the Editor:

On June 1, AP’s first report of the heinous suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv disco carried the headline: “Explosion Kills Bomber in Tel Aviv.”

Initial reports from the scene showed scores of Jewish casualties. So why did AP downplay this bestial act as an “explosion,” and focus on the suffering — not of innocent teens — but of the evil bomber? One can only draw the conclusion that the news writing reflected a transparent political bias, of either the writer or the editor. If true, then the AP is not reporting news, but creating it.


If you have seen an article that you feel is clearly biased in its reporting towards Israel, please send us details at

Stay informed! Read about the “Seven Areas of Media Distortion” at

HonestReporting was founded by a group of individuals that affiliates neither to the right nor to the left. We are only interested in ensuring that Israel receives fair coverage in the media. We scrutinize the media for examples of blatant bias, and then inform our subscribers of any offending articles, asking to complain directly to the news organization concerned.

(C) 2001 HonestReporting – All rights reserved.


Barnea Levi Selavan

d) Online Response Curriculum

Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2001 09:51:13 -0400
From: Matthew Friedman <>
Subject: Teaching about the Situation in Israel

There is a response curriculum, created by the Curriculum Dept at the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland, also in cooperation with JESNA and the UJC’s Israel NOW Solidarity effort that is available online.

Matthew A. Friedman
Israel Experience Coordinator
Jewish Education Center of Cleveland
2030 S. Taylor Road
Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118
(216) 371-0446 ext. 104 fax (216) 371-2523

e) Israel Response Curriculum

Date: Sun, 2 Sep 2001 11:59:46 -0400
From: Saul Kaiserman <>

Another excellent series of resources for teaching about the current situation in Israel is being published by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. It is called “Seeking peace, pursuing justice.” Although they don’t provide concrete teaching techniques, I find the information to be extremely well organized and thought-provoking.

Saul Kaiserman
New York City


II. Practical Classroom/School Program Suggestions

a) Israel Solidarity Programs

Date: Mon, 14 May 2001 16:21:22 -0700 (PDT)
From: Cooki Levy <>

Our community (Montreal), probably like many others, has a Project Solidarity with Israel including schools, synagogues, organizations,agencies, etc. (Why can we only work together like this in times of crisis?) We’ve collected dollars for blue and white ribbons of solidarity, the money going to purchase some equipment for a trauma center in Jerusalem. Many groups are organizing or have sent missions to Israel to show support. In our school, we have initiated a “peace quilt” project. Each family will make one felt square depicting our love of Israel. We will make it into a quilt and send it to Be’er sheva to hang in our sisteschool. We are offering a workshop for parents entitled: “Talking to your child about Israel”. This is all in addition to frequent discussions in class, and daily recitation of T’fillah L’shlom Ha’midinah.

Cooki Levy

Date: Mon, 04 Jun 2001 16:07:07 -0400
From: Joel B. Wolowelsky <>

[Dr. Wolowelsky shared with me the part of the off-list discussion he had that dealt with practical classroom issues in how to teach younger children about what is going on in Israel. I am sharing it with the list]

I think it is easier to deal with 2nd graders on this issue than with high school students, because the younger students can’t really understand what is happening. They have to be reassured and given the opportunity to vent. In many ways, this is like dealing with the death of a parent.

And just as I would not go into this class to discuss the death of a parent without bringing along the school professional (psychologist, guidance counselor, etc.), so too I would consult with them on this. Abstract advice has to be adjusted to the real life situation.

That having been said, I would proceed as follows. First, I would ask the students what they have heard is going on in Israel. They are getting information from parents, TV, etc. Some may have relatives listening there. Listen to what is being said, and only then fill in your explanation.

There is surely nothing wrong in saying something like, There are some very bad people who are trying to hurt Jews in Israel because they hate the idea of Jews returning to our homeland. (Note, “some very bad people” is not the same as “the Arabs”.) Sometimes they succeed, but most of the time Tzahal, with Hashem’s help, protects everybody. But I am sure that many of the children there are nevertheless scared. Have you ever been scared about being hurt? (Let them talk about themselves.) Let’s send cards to the children there telling them that we are thinking of them. Let’s send cards to Tzahal saying how we’re proud of them for protecting everyone.

This, of course, is not a script. But too much information can be just as much a mistake as too little. Pick up cues from the students and you’ll be able to reassure them as necessary. Don’t impose your understanding of the matter on them.

Joel Wolowelsky

b) Class Discussion and Project for Elementary School Students

Date: Fri, 18 May 2001 15:00:50 -0500

As to your request for programs that schools have done in response to what is going on in Israel – At Hillel Yeshiva we had “Shavua Eretz Yisrael”. Every year we take one week and instead of doing the normal curriculum focus on one issue. In the past we have done Tefillah and Kashrut. This year we decided to focus on Israel. Our Chumash teachers used this week to focus on Shmittah and the holy places in Israel. Our Navi teachers focused on Yerushalayim and the various customs of mourning that have developed over the Churban. Our TSBP teachers focused on one of three issues – Pidyon Shevuyim, Drafting yeshiva students into the army and Land for peace. Throughout the week we had special programs. One day a soldier came in and spoke of his experiences. The day of elections our school had a debate between Barak and Sharon. We had a speaker come in to discuss the bias of the media. We had a session dealing with the philosophy behind Eretz Yisrael from the thought of Rav Kook and The Rav. We had a “Shuk Eretz Yisrael” where we set up our main hallway as a “Shuk” manned by our students having other students sign petitions, donate money, write letters, make ribbons (for the MIA’s) etc… Throughout the week our school was decorated with Israel posters and there was Israeli music playing in the background. On the last day we had everybody stand in their classrooms and a Tefillah for those who live in Galut was said. We hope that we would be able to bring Israel into the minds of our students.

I have also set up a list for certain students to receive news articles on the situation throughout the year.

If you have questions please contact me or 732-493-0420

Rabbi Jason Knapel

c) Yom Chessed

Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2001 00:50:10 +0200
From: elibir <>

Shalom All

Last Thursday people in tekoa were joined by many schools and communities in sharing a Day of chessed. Aside from classes and role playing models we ran special events for different ages from elementary school to adults. Below is the call we sent out. I believe that it can be adopted by other schools and communities on an individual basis, although its effect would be greater if it can be wide spread.

Talk to people in the street. Ask them what they are feeling and the probable response will be helplessness, anger, frustration. Some will also show depressed resignation – “There is nothing we can do about it”.

These people are both wrong and wrong. Wrong from an active Geo-political base where we know that if all of us write to friends abroad and ask them to write to people we can have an effect on local politicians. But wrong again for there is something we can do for ourselves.

The eighth graders in Tekoa (Koby Mandel’s and Yosef Ishran’s age group) had been searching for some way to express the ideals that the boys lived for. “What can we do” they asked, “to bring people a bit closer together?” “What can we do to make ourselves better people because of them?” There is a midrash which relates that when we do a good deed we create a “good” angel, and when we do something wrong we create a “bad” angel. I know this sounds a bit simplistic, almost childish, but just maybe, each act of ours has an effect on the world around us. Maybe each act creates something tangible – something even infectious for both good and bad. To this end they had set aside Thursday June 7 (the “shloshim” ) as a Day of Caring (Yom Chessed) in their schools and community, the idea being that on that day we should all do something good beyond our normal daily activities. Call a relative (even your aunt) and ask how they are. Offer to help someone. Give extra charity. When thinking about saying something negative about someone – don’t. And for those Israelis among us – let the other car move into your lane without the normal epithets, please? Yes this is an idea of 13 year olds and we may just smile in indulgence and think “why how nice” or we can say – why not? Over 15 communities and 12 schools participated and requests have since come in calling for an effort to make a(n inter) national day of chessed. Whether this happens or not it should not stop individual schools from ending their year on a positive note.

Will this stop the terror? Probably not. But for a short while at least, we may just feel good about something, and today that’s an accomplishment. Who knows it just may be catching.

“Simon the Just used to say The world stands on three pillars: Torah, the (temple) service, and deeds of loving -kindness.

Eli Birnbaum
Director Internet Services
The Jewish Agency / World Zionist Organization
POB 92 Jerusalem, Israel
Tel: 972 2 6202689 Fax: 972 2 6202266

d) Two-Pronged Approach

Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2001 22:04:59 -0400
From: Barbara Freedman

I believe that the challenge currently facing Israel and the Jewish people is the most serious since the Six Day War. Our priorities as educators cannot be “business as usual” because when our brothers and sisters in Israel can be murdered while driving to work or eating pizza, we cannot be complacent. When our neighbors are inciting violence against ALL Jews in their media and sermons, we cannot shut our ears. Our response can come on several levels. These are some suggestions which hopefully will be part of our school program and I would love to hear about other ideas. I am thinking about a two pronged approach –
one -building a positive connection;
two -response to the crisis.


a. every classroom has a map of Israel which is referred to and integrated into many content areas
b. saying T”filla L’shlom Hamidina daily
c. Gesher Chai and other twinning programs
d. Projects on Modern Life in Israel – having a bulletin board in the classroom or school which CELEBRATES Israel and its accomplishment (in religious life, high tech, medicine, sports, etc.)
e. Israel as the “golden thread” running through the limudei kodesh curriculum
f. Being well informed as a staff -encouraging professional development in Israel
g. Bnot Sherut and Kollel Torah Mitzion help to make Israel very alive at our school

It is extremely important that our teaching and discussion of Israel not be only crisis based and that our students do not have the feeling of Israel as a land of fear and danger.

Response to Crisis

a. Encouraging students to exercise their democratic rights of expression to elected officials and the media as the need arises (and giving prominent attention to these letters on the school bulletin board). Teaching students how to write such a letter effectively.
b. letters and card to soldiers, the injured in terrorist attacks
c. Participation in community rallies. On September 23 there will be rallies all over North America in solidarity for Israel. Every school should make sure their students and parents will participate.
d. I read about a project starting in Israel called “tzeret Techelet”- to tie a blue ribbon on every car until the kidnapped Israeli soldiers are returned (I hope bli neder to get more info) The idea is so that these young men continue to be remembered until they are released.

I was very privileged to attend an excellent conference in Israel this summer “Involving Day School Students in Contemporary Israel” sponsored by the Department for Jewish Zionist Education (with the World Council for Torah Education and JNF). These type of conferences are important not only for the new ideas and learning, but also for a personal renewal and commitment to Israel. When I was in Israel I read about the Koby Foundation established through the Jerusalem Post. This foundation was established by the Mandell family in memory of their son Koby who was brutally murdered by terrorists last lag ba’omer. The purpose of the fund is to provide for families of terror victims, or any other tragedy (such as car accident or illness). It would provide for after-school activities, special counseling, special needs during the holidays which are especially painful, etc. It seemed to be an excellent project for our schools to raise money for this foundation. My proposal is for Tochnit Arevut -and I ask each school to try to raise one thousand dollars for this fund by the end of Sukkot and share their projects and success with me and I will share it with all those who participate. Would it be so difficult to get a hundred schools (how many readers of lookjed are there?) to take part, and as a community show our support for the families who have suffered so tragically? Uniting as group for one project and sharing our accomplishments can have a very powerful and positive effect in innumerable ways (In the message we give our students and the good that we do).

I have copies of the article in the Jerusalem Post (July 6) about the Foundation and will be happy to send it to you. This was a large article about the family and the fund. Checks should be payable to the Jerusalem Post Charitable Funds with a memo “The Koby Appeal” and a note that this is part of the Arevut project. It can be sent to Jerusalem Post Charitable Funds, P.O. Box 81 Jerusalem 91000.

These are just some ideas …

Barbara Freedman

e) Lectures and Personal Accounts

Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2001 15:38:10 +0300
From: Pardes

Gary presented a very good question, and sitting here in Yerushalayim, I certainly do not have all the answers. I do have a few suggestions:

1. Gary is right that this is not the 6-Day War or Entebbe. However, it is impossible to understand our conflict with the Palestinians (and to empathize with our side!) without knowing something about what preceded Oslo. Teaching modern Zionism, and in particular the War of Independence and the prelude to the 6-Day War is essential. If it is impossible to devote an entire course, then at least on some y’mei iyun (perhaps on Yom haZikaron, Yom haatzmaut, Yom Yerushalayim).

2. Bringing in experts who understand the situation more deeply than most of us, and are insightful as well as articulate. Two examples: David Makovsky (now in Washington, DC) and Ehud Ya’ari (in Israel, but sometimes travels). I have heard both of them lecture, and they are outstanding.

3. As we all know, personal accounts and stories are a most effective educational tool. This could be a factor in what is put on the bulletin boards, spoken about in class, and which guests might be invited to speak. As a Jewish educator here in Israel, it is gratifying to see Gary Levine’s question. I hope it is on the minds of many others.


David I. Bernstein, Ph.D.

Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies
P.O. Box 8575
Jerusalem, Israel 91084
tel. 972-2-673-5210, fax 972-2-673-5160

III Communal Activities and Fundraising

a) Public Speeches at Simchas

Date: Sun, 3 Jun 2001 00:09:08 -0400
From: Amy & Daniel Rothner <>

I heard that a colleague is doing some things at graduation to address the situation in Israel. What do you think? What about at shul dinners, weddings, & bar/bat mitzvahs?

Daniel Rothner
Heschel Middle School

Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2001 11:33:59 -0400
From: Rabbi Moshe & Esty Yeres

Pursuant to Daniel Rothner’s comment on “doing things” about the matzav in Israel –

During a recent Bat Mitzvah luncheon which we attended, one of the celebrant’s siblings asked the guests to rise, and he read a chapter of Tehillim, specifically to invoke Hashem’s help for the situation in Israel. It was very effective; a somber communal moment in the midst of personal joy.

For that matter, during tefillah, we may want to consider including civilians together with soldiers in the Misheberach for Tzahal. The request for the Almighty’s watchful and protective assistance surely is in place. And we should include those wounded in terror attacks together (or separately) with the Misheberach for the sick.

Rabbi Dr. Moshe J. Yeres
Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (CHAT)

b) Walk-A-Thon

From: Rabbi David Marcus <>
Date: Wednesday, June 27, 2001 4:56 AM

Please check out the following web address: This is the web-site of the Israel Emergency Solidarity Fund. You will find pictures, personal information, pictures and ways to contact and help the families. This organization is a class act. I’ve checked them out and spoke to families who have benefited from their help. You can contact me directly for more information. I will be spending this summer trying to help them launch the next walk-a-thons throughout the U.S. planned for October.

Yishar Kochachem!

c) Supporting Families in Need

Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2001 13:23:36 +0200
From: “Rachel Reinfeld, Metamorphosis”<>


With the current situation (or should I say – “war”) in Israel I’m assuming that there are families left without mothers, fathers and children (lo alianu) that are in need of financial help. If someone knows of addresses or accounts that have been opened for these families, please let us know so that we can help out. (Also, refresh us with the addressed of the ones already mentioned, like the Kahane and Leiberman families)

We should know better times, bimhaira

Rachel Reinfeld