Criminal Justice: An 8th Grade Talmud Unit, Bavli Sanhedrin 6

By: Dr. Jenny Labendz
from Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County

Category:
Real-World Learning

Subject(s) of entry:
Gemara, History, Mishnah, Social Studies

Pedagogy:

Grade(s) to which this was taught:
8th

Grade(s) for which this will be useful:
8, High school

The primary goal of this unit is for students to use the Talmud as a tool for exploring real world problems. Contrary to the expectation that Talmudic discussions of capital punishment are arcane and grim, students learn that the Talmud’s dissection of this matter can be fruitfully applied to America’s criminal justice system. Stepping far outside of the American cultural context is sometimes the best preparation for engaging with it. Using the Talmud in this way encourages students not only to become more involved American citizens, but to experience Judaism as a guiding and thought-provoking force in their citizenship.