Israel at War - Discussion Guidelines


Journaling is a powerful tool. It provides an outlet for emotion, it forces one to connect the heart, brain, and hand in order to communicate, and it creates a sense of agency. It validates each individual’s experience, yet it also can connect us to each other. 

During a time of crisis and uncertainty such as we find ourselves in, all these things are even more powerful and valuable. In addition, journaling can connect us to the past and anchor us in the present. By framing the journaling as something “you’ll look back on,” even “something you will share with your own children,” we are also helping students build a mental, emotional, and actual bridge toward their futures. The bottom line—journaling is a way of taking control in an environment where it may seem that we have none. 

If you can provide time and space for journaling in your classroom, up to 15 minutes, but less if necessary, it could be very supportive for your students. It would be even more helpful—to them and even to you—if you model the behavior and journal while your students journal.

Here are some suggestions for journal prompts, with corresponding grade levels. Feel free to use whichever ones work for you and your students and/or to create your own. (Note: The grade levels listed below are suggestions. Use the prompts that seem appropriate for your students, regardless of grade level).


Grades 4-5: 

  1. Have you ever been to Israel? If so, what is something special about Israel? If not, what do you think Israel is like? 
  2. What are things that make you feel better when you are scared? What would you say to someone your age who is feeling really scared? How would you try to make them feel better? 
  3. If you could talk directly to God right now, what would you say? What would you ask for? Write a letter to God or write your own prayer to recite. 

Grades 6-9: 

  1. Does the existence of the State of Israel make you feel proud? How and why (or why not)?
  2. If you were an adult, what would you say to someone your age to help them deal with fear? Would you share with your own children what you’re experiencing right now? If yes, what would you want to share with them? How would you tell them?
  3. If you could talk to God right now, what would you say and/or ask God? 
  4. Do you connect with the Prayer for the State of Israel and the Prayer for the Welfare of Israeli Soldiers? Why or why not? What kind of prayer for Israel and/or the Israeli soldiers would you compose? 
  5. How do you feel when Israel is under attack? Why do you think you feel this way? 

Grades 10-12:

  1. How does the existence of the State of Israel impact your identity as a Jew? How does it make you feel?
  2. Do you feel personally vulnerable when Israel is under attack? Why or why not? 
  3. Some of our prayers ask God to take revenge on our enemies. Do you feel that taking revenge is acceptable? Why or why not, under what circumstances?
  4. How do you deal with fear and uncertainty? What would you suggest as “best practices” for helping people deal with fear and uncertainty?
  5. Does praying and/or talking to God help you in difficult times? Why or why not? 
  6. It’s been 50 years since the Yom Kippur War, the last time Israel suffered a surprise attack. How do you think you’ll remember this time in Jewish history 5, 10, or even 50 years from now?