Union for Reform Judaism

Israel Strand

The Israel strand is a series of 19 lessons on Israel, designed to be integrated into the year. There are 2-3 lessons that correspond to the theme of each level and are age-appropriate for grades 1-7. The lessons come in a binder, so they are easily divide up and given to the teachers of various grades. Supporting handouts are included with each lesson.

Enduring Understandings

A fundamental aspect of a healthy Jewish identity is a relationship to Israel as the historical homeland and the spiritual inheritance of the Jewish people.

A fundamental aspect of a healthy Reform Jewish identity is a commitment to advancing the cause of religious pluralism within the modern State of Israel.

Lesson Overview

Level 1

Lesson # and Title

Topic/Questions to be Addressed

1. Our Country: Here & There (Part 1)

What is a country and what does a country have? How are the Jewish holidays that I celebrate in my country here the same or different than they are celebrated in Israel, my country there?

2. Our Country: Here and There (Part 2)

How are some of the sounds, foods, and symbols of Israel similar to and different from those I am familiar with in the United States or Canada?

Level 2

Lesson # and Title

Topic/Questions to be Addressed

1. Trees in Israel and the New Year of Trees

What is special about Israel? What is the connection of Tu BiSh’vat to the Land of Israel? What grows in Israel?

2. The Fruits of Israel

What is special about Israel? How is Israel similar to and different from here? What grows in Israel? What familiar foods have special meaning with respect to Israel?

Level 3

Lesson # and Title

Topic/Questions to be Addressed

1. From the Galilee to the Negev: Making the Map Ours

What do I want to know about he land and landscape of Israel? What are the distinctive qualities and features of the land?

2. A Tale of Three Cities

What are the distinctive qualities and features of Israel’s three largest cities: Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem?

3. Go to the Desert

What are the distinctive qualities and features of the Negev Desert? What important things happened in the desert? What did God choose to speak to people in the desert at some important times?

Level 4

Lesson # and Title

Topic/Questions to be Addressed

1. Faces of Israel: Ingathering from Around the World

How are Israelis and their lives different from and similar to us and our lives? What are some of the different Jewish groups that make up the population of Israel? How does immigration from different communities affect Israeli culture and society?

2. Communities: Building Blocks of Israel

What should I know about the people of Israel land their lives? How are Israelis and their lives different from and similar to us and our lives? What are some of the different types of communities in Israel? How was Israel settled by Jewish communities?

3. Israel in My Life

How can I connect to and support Israel in my own life?

Level 5

Lesson # and Title

Topic/Questions to be Addressed

1. Agricultural Law and Social Justice in Israel

What makes Israel unique? What does living in a Jewish land demand of the Jewish people? What challenges and opportunities do Eretz Yisrael and M’dinat Yisrael present to Judaism and Jews? How does Torah guide us to live in Israel? How can we make sure that the country takes care of all of its people? What difficulties are there in doing so?

2. Defending Israel

How can and how should Israel protect and defend its people? What difficulties and moral issues are there in doing so?

3. Arabs and Jews in Israel

In what ways is the experience of a member of the Arab minority in Israel similar to and different from the experience of a Jew or other minorities in North America?

Level 6

Lesson # and Title

Topic/Questions to be Addressed

1. Living in the Promised Land

Why do Jews regard themselves as being connected to the Land of Israel? Where and when does God promise the Land of Israel to the Jewish people? How is the belief in God’s promise of the land reflected in our history and prayers? In what ways have the Jewish people actualized God’s promise?

2. Living in the Promised Land: The Rise of Modern Zionism

How is Zionism related to God’s promise of the land? What new ideas did Zionism add to the historic and religious attachment Jews felt for the Land of Israel? Does God’s promise of land require any specific action from the Jewish people? In what way have the Jewish people actualized God’s promise? How did Zionism affect the way Jews saw themselves and their mission?

3. Living in the Promised Land: Water for Life

What role does water/rain serve in Jewish text sources? What is the issue of water so important to the State of Israel? What are the water sources in Israel today?

Level 7

Lesson # and Title

Topic/Questions to be Addressed

1. Israel: A Democratic Jewish State

What are some different perspectives of the nature of a Jewish state? How might there be a conflict between a Jewish state and a democracy? How does the Knesset reflect the effort to harmonize between these two concepts?

2. Dilemmas of a Jewish Democracy

What is the nature of the relationship between the Jewish state and the Jewish people?

3. Reform Judaism in Israel

What is the historical background of the Reform Movement’s status in the State of Israel? What are some of the challenges that Reform Judaism is facing in Israel today? What contribution can the Reform Movement make to Judaism in Israel?

Purchase the Israel strand

More

For a high school unit on Israel, check out Investigating Israel.

Browse this weekly blog about life in Israel.

See these response curricula written to respond to crises in Israel - Response to Israel Crisis (Oct. 2000) For the Love of Israel (April 2002)

Check out the resources from ARZA, the Reform Movement’s Zionist arm.