C: Educational Activities
We bring here a number of short educational activities on some of the issues in this chapter. We do not recommend using all of the activities together, but choosing those most relevant for your group or class.
29. The Jewish Family Stereotype
(One to one and a half hours)
The aim of this first program is to examine some of the stereotypes associated with the Jewish family, in order to see whether they are justified and what they say about the centrality of the family in Judaism.
Divide the group up into three parts. Each group has a few minutes to write down a list of associations for one of the following: a Jewish mother, a Jewish father and a Jewish family.
When they have prepared their list they bring it to the entire group explaining their choices. The group should relate evaluating the list to see whether or not they agree. After each word or phrase is presented and evaluated their should be a vote. Two thirds of the group need to agree that the association is a fair association, in order for it to be left on the list. The wider group can offer up to three additional ideas which can be evaluated and voted on in a similar manner. We are thus left with three lists which are seen as a fair reflection of the term in question by the group as a whole.
Now focus on the list relating to Jewish family.
What are the essential characteristics of the Jewish family as it appears on that list?
How important is the family in Judaism?
If the group feels that the family is central, can they suggest why that should be?
If the group feels it is not central, explain to them that the close-knit family is often seen both by people inside of and outside of the culture as a central characteristic of Jewish life.
Suggest three reasons and ask them to relate to the relative importance of each of these ideas as they see them.
1. The family roots of the Jewish saga as represented in the book of Bereishit. Could this be a factor? Discuss.
2. The idea of "be fruitful and multiply." Explain that it is seen as the first commandment in the Torah. Discuss.
(Hint: What are your reactions? The meaning?)
3. The question of the challenge of Jewish survival in Diaspora history. Could this be a factor? Discuss.
(In our decisions, or in our culture?)
How do they feel about the fact that in their culture, the family is so central? Is it a positive thing for them? Why? Is it a negative thing for them in any way?
Finish with the following quote from the Talmud.
Rabbi Tanhum said in the name of Rabbi Hanilai; When a man is without a wife he lives without joy, without blessing and without good…Rav bar Ulla added; Also without peace.
Bab Talmud, Tractate Yebamot, 62b
What does the group think about this idea?