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What kind of cultural exchange takes place when one community reaches out to help another? When doing service work, in addition to the actual work that gets done, there is inevitably also a meeting of two cultures. That’s almost the more important part of service than the service itself –that’s how we come to understand issues and other people and to become part of a larger community. The people we are going to help or work with are often the ones who have the best idea of what they need and how to do the necessary work. This class teaches the benefit of listening and learning before we act. Attribution: David Kasher and Beth Cousens
This activity begins with a short text study of Talmudic teachings about communal responsibility. Students then explore together the role of an “ally” in creating change. Students are asked to recall moments when they stood up for someone else or when someone stood up for them and to use their experiences to examine what it means to be an effective ally to someone.You can follow the entire lesson plan, or choose portions to do with your students.
This two-part lesson gives students the opportunity to reflect on why Jews celebrate certain events in community. Using group discussion and work in pairs, Part A asks students to think about their own bar/bat mitzvahs and how it would have felt to not celebrate with family and friends. Students then reflect on a quote from Talmud about marking certain events with community. In Part B, students discuss in pairs the experiences of two gay people from the film Hineini.They will reflect on how it might feel to be separate or isolated from one’s community because of some aspect of one’s identity. Each part of the lesson can be done separately or the two can be done together.You can also use Part A as an activity before screening all or part of Hineini and Part B after students have seen the film.
What do Jewish texts teach us about every Jew's personal responsibility to contribute to their community?
3 short texts on your obligation to the community
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Gather the people - men, women, children, and the strangers in your communities - that they may hear and so learn to revere the Lord your God and to observe faithfully every word of this Teaching. Their children, too, who have not had the experience, shall hear and learn to revere the Lord your God as long as they live in the land that you are about to cross the Jordan to possess. [JPS translation]
(יב) הַקְהֵל אֶת הָעָם הָאֲנָשִׁים וְהַנָּשִׁים וְהַטַּף וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ לְמַעַן יִשְׁמְעוּ וּלְמַעַן יִלְמְדוּ וְיָרְאוּ אֶת יְקֹוָק אֱלֹהֵיכֶם וְשָׁמְרוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת כָּל דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת:
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When, in time to come, your children ask you, "What mean the decrees, laws, and rules that the Lord our God has enjoined upon you?" you shall say to your children, "We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and the Lord freed up from Egypt with a might hand. The Lord wrought before our eyes marvelous and destructive signs and portents in Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his household; and us God freed from there, that God might take us and give us the land that God had promised on oath to our ancestors.
כ) וְגַם אֶת הַצִּרְעָה יְשַׁלַּח יְקֹוָק אֱלֹהֶיךָ בָּם עַד אֲבֹד הַנִּשְׁאָרִים וְהַנִּסְתָּרִים מִפָּנֶיךָ:
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16 You shall celebrate a sacred occasion on the first day, and a sacred occasion on
טז וּבַיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן, מִקְרָא-קֹדֶשׁ, וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, מִקְרָא-קֹדֶשׁ יִהְיֶה לָכֶם: כָּל-מְלָאכָה, לֹא-יֵעָשֶׂה בָהֶם--אַךְ אֲשֶׁר יֵאָכֵל לְכָל-נֶפֶשׁ, הוּא לְבַדּוֹ יֵעָשֶׂה לָכֶם.
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A song of scents. Of David. How good and how pleasant it is that siblings dwell together. [JPS translation. Edited for gender neutrality]
שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת לְדָוִד הִנֵּה מַה טּוֹב וּמַה נָּעִים שֶׁבֶת אַחִים גַּם יָחַד:
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Common Fire: Leading Lives of Commitment in a Complex World (Laurent A Parks Daloz, Cheryl H. Keen, James P. Keen, Sharon Daloz Parks, 1996)
…The commons marked the center of a shared world… By happenstance and intention, people met and talked together with some sense of a shared stake, something in common. … a place where the diverse parts of a community could come together and hold a conversation within a shared sense of participation and responsibility.