Activity: Is the Whole World Against Us?

The aim of this activity is to examine the students’ sense of the presence of anti-Semitism in their own lives and see how this affects their view of the Jewish community.

  • Pass around the following picture of a medieval blood libel. In its most advanced form, the accusation against the Jews (hats, badges) was that they killed Christian children and used their blood for a whole series of ritual uses, including for the baking of matzot. In this medieval woodcut, they are shown killing a child and draining his blood. Ask members of the group what they think is happening and decipher the picture together with them.
  • How do they react when they see a picture like this? How do they explain such ideas about Jews? Do they think that people still believe such things?
  • Now proceed to their own experience. Have they ever experienced anti-Semitism in their own lives? Are they aware of any anti-Semitic acts aimed at the Jewish community? Do they feel that the recent intifada and the tension between Israel and the Palestinians has had any effect on the incidence of anti-Semitism within their own community?
  • If the answer to at least one of the last two questions is “yes”, ask them whether they feel at all vulnerable living in their own community as Jews. What does it do for their feeling towards their local Jewish community? Does it draw them closer or does it make them want to distance themselves from the community?
  • Divide them into small groups. They have been asked to take part in a community campaign to counter anti-Semitism, actual or potential, in the outside community. Each group must write one article or opinion piece for the largest local newspaper, explaining their feelings as Jews regarding the presence or absence of anti-Semitism in the local community. In addition, they should formulate a seven-step plan for fighting anti-Semitism - if they feel it exists - or for taking preventive measures so that it will never be a problem in their overall community. If their answer to the two previous questions is negative, inform them that, in many parts of the Jewish world today, there is growing concern about the increase of anti-Semitism.
  • Bring the group together and pool their ideas and reactions, preferably in the presence of a community official who is responsible for monitoring anti-Semitism in the local (and, if possible, the national) community.


 

 

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10 Dec 2006 / 19 Kislev 5767 0