For millennia Jews did little to return home. After its creation, Israel became central to Jewish Schools; yet, most lack an Israel Curriculum. Striving to create pride in Medinat Yisrael and a sense of Jewish Identity in its accomplishments, our interdisciplinary grade 6-9 curriculum teaches the creation and evolution of the State in Hebrew including the songs of the Aliyot and the wars.
- The temple was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 C.E. and while we frequently spoke about a return to Zion in our liturgy, little was done on a practical level to bring Jews back to the Land of Israel until the late 1800s. It is almost astounding that religious Jews prayed for the return to Zion and did nothing about it no matter how bad things were where they resided (Crusades, expulsions and the Inquisition.)
- Having waited 2000 years for God to restore them to Eretz Yisrael, it may well have been somewhat of a theological revolution for Jews to stop waiting for God and instead take matters into their own hands and create the Zionist Movement—תנועת שיבת ציון
- The Jewish People achieved the unthinkable and returned to their land after an absence of Millennia. Israel permeates the curriculum of almost all mainstream Jewish schools; yet, there are few schools that have a structured, organized curriculum in the teaching of Israel.
- The overarching objective of this curriculum is to do just that for grades 7, 8 and 9. Almost as soon as the teaching of the curriculum began, it was expanded to include grade 6.
- The curriculum is designed as an interdisciplinary curriculum in that it combines the instruction of History and Hebrew language.
- Whereas traditionally, one teaches vocabulary, language and grammar and includes a text—literature or holidays, the uniqueness of this curriculum is that the accompanying text to language instruction is the history of Israel.
- The objectives:
The students will learn:
–The narrative of the Zionist Movement and the creation of the State.
–The love of Israel.
–A functional knowledge of the Hebrew language.
–A knowledge of Hebrew culture—primarily the songs of the state.
We tried to combine objectives to create a sense of pride in the state and a sense of Jewish Identity in the multitude of diverse accomplishments of the state.
- The curriculum was written on a Hebrew level appropriate for the students with numerous explanations (primarily in English) of vocabulary and concepts. Translations of difficult words are provided in parenthesis within the text and concepts are explained in easy Hebrew or English at the end of each lesson.
- The curriculum incorporates Israeli culture into the units of instruction. Songs of each of the Aliyot and songs of the various wars are included. The words to the songs, a link to one or more Youtube recordings, the circumstances of the composition of the song as well as the message of the song all form a unique part of the curriculum.
- Grades 6,7,8 deal with the birth of the Zionist Movements in Eastern Europe and Western Europe and the various migrations (Aliyot) that ultimately lead to the creation of the State while grade 9 deals with the wars of the state.
- At this point, the text contains three volumes.
- Each volume begins with an index (Hebrew and English) and objectives written in UBD style.
Grade 7-8 are in volume one (*) while grade 9 is in a second volume. It is envisioned that an additional volume will be written uniquely for grade 8. The third volume is for research and special projects. It is made up of declarations, U.N. resolutions and scholarly analyses. Much of the text is copied with permission and credits from the Center for Israel Education in Emory University. Each of the sections contains a Hebrew summary. This volume also includes the text and an analysis of the Israeli Declaration of Independence in Hebrew and in English.
The text is enhanced with lots of pictures to help students develop familiarity with key figures of each of the periods covered.
The text also contains points for group discussions.
- There is an attempt to give voice to the Arab and Palestinian sides as well so students understand that there are two sides in this conflict.
- The curriculum was reviewed and edited by a grade six Hebrew teacher to help adjust the Hebrew to an appropriate level.
- The curriculum was professionally vocalized in Israel to help students with language.
(*since grade 8 students did not have the materials while they were in grade 7, the school chose to let them use the grade 7 book for grade 8. The grade 8 materials will have to be written during the current academic year for next year.)
Sample of Video Lesson Summary sent to students following each class:
Dr. Shimshon Hamerman holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Yeshiva University as well as an M.Sc. from N.Y. U School of Engineering. His Ph.D. was granted by University of Montreal in Biblical Studies and Theology. Dr. Hamerman has been ordained by Rabbi Pinchas Hirschprung (z’l), Chief Rabbi of Montreal.
Dr. Hamerman served as Head of School of Solomon Schechter Academy of Montreal and as Executive Director of the Bronfman Jewish Education Centre of Montreal (the bureau) after his retirement from the Academy. He is presently a pedagogic consultant to a number of schools in Montreal.
Dr. Hamerman continued to lead student missions to Israel.