Activity: Nationally Commanded
  • Begin a discussion on the concept of commandment and religious obligation. What is it? Where does it come from? Who decides whether it has a part in an individual’s life? Is it enforceable? How do different Jews see the idea of religious obligation and halacha? Explain the problem of the concept for Jews who lack faith in the idea that the commandments were handed down for all time by God at Mount Sinai. Is there a value for the individual in having a sense that one is commanded? Is there a value for the community, the collective?
  • Introduce the following question: Is there any sense in which it would be useful to talk about commandments, not in terms of the Jewish religion but in terms of the Jewish people? Are there rules that are not dependent on religious faith, that would be a valuable norm for an individual Jew’s behavior for all Jews - religious and non-religious - throughout the world?
  • Explain that a new initiative has been taken to create a ‘Jewish national covenant’ that will be the basis for community education and activity throughout the Jewish world. The school has been chosen to submit suggestions for the covenant. Having gone through the Modern Jewish World program, the class is will represent the school and their task is to create the school proposal.
  • Each individual should go away and try to come up with three ‘national Jewish rules’ that, in their opinion, would enhance the situation world Jewry if increasing numbers of Jews throughout the world were to adopt them. If examples are needed, you could suggest the following:

EACH JEW SHOULD SPEND PART OF EACH WEEK STUDYING THE HEBREW LANGUAGE.

EACH JEW SHOULD TRY TO DONATE A PERCENTAGE OF THEIR EARNINGS TO STRENGTHEN JEWISH EDUCATION FOR THE YOUNG.

EACH JEW SHOULD SPEND A YEAR IN ISRAEL BETWEEN THE AGE OF EIGHTEEN AND TWENTY FIVE.

  • Divide the class into small groups, in which they should share and discuss their ideas. Bring the class back together. Each group should now offer three suggestions that represent their group’s decision regarding the new Jewish national covenant.
  • The group should now discuss these suggestions and choose ten of them to propose as Jewish national rules. These will represent the school’s proposal for a Jewish national covenant.
  • List the rules on the board. Ask the group to relate to the idea of such a list. If such a list of suggested obligations were to be adopted by the entire Jewish world as a program for the Jewish nation, and if it were to serve as the basis for Jewish communal and educational activity throughout the Jewish world, would they see it as positive or negative? Why?
  • Ask each student to write themselves a note, recording how they match up to the suggested ten-point program.
  • Finally bring the class together again and share their responses. How does the idea of obligation to the Jewish world seem to them in personal terms? How do those who agreed with the general idea match up to the program in their own personal life?
  • Finally, explain that this is only an exercise and that there is no such initiative in the Jewish world. Is this good or is it a shame? Should an exercise like this have any implications for them as individuals?


 

 

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11 Dec 2006 / 20 Kislev 5767 0