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Education And Resources

Teacher Curriculum

If you would like to submit a lesson plan, please email Jessi Melcer.


George Washington's Letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island
Though Colonial America was more tolerant of religious diversity than Europe, it had not yet become a beacon of religious liberty. The absence of liberty weighed on the minds of people like Moses Seixas, Warden of the Jeshuat Israel Synagogue in Rhode Island.

This resource will help your students explore the history of religious liberty in America and its ongoing importance.

Chaplain Alexander Goode
The poster and accompanying lesson profiles U.S. Army Chaplain Alexander Goode, a rabbi who gave his life in service to his country during World War II. One of the famed "Four Chaplains," Rabbi Goode along with three Christian chaplains gave his life to save soldiers on board the transport ship Dorchester when it was torpedoed and sunk in 1943. Focus is on the role of the military during periods of crisis and the ultimate sacrifice that some individuals chose to make in service to their country.

Grade 7-12

Israel's Independence
A downloadable poster features the spontaneous celebration on May 14, 1948 when eight-year-old Oren Zinder raised a new flag on Embassy Row-- the flag of the State of Israel.

Accompanying lesson materials including classroom worksheets focusing on the importance of teen social activism both then and now, and the role that teens played in rallying public support of the new State. Educational focus on the history of the creation of the state of Israel and its relationship with the United States.

Grade 5-12

Jewish Life in Mr. Lincoln's City
The poster tells stories of members of the Jewish community living and serving in the nation's capital during the Civil War--for both the Union and Confederacy. A Medal of Honor winner and well as a southern spy are featured.

Grade 6-12

Writing Home: A Letter from an early American Jew
We know little about Rebecca Samuel, the author of our featured document this month, outside of what her letters provide for us: a slice of her life as a Jewish woman in early America. In this letter, originally written in Yiddish in the 1790s to her parents in Hamburg, Germany, Samuel describes her life in Petersburg, Virginia. She vividly portrays the challenges of keeping a Jewish household, her wishes for her children, and her excitement about the prospect of moving to Charleston, South Carolina. Our lessons this month use Rebecca Samuel’s captivating letter as a centerpiece for interactive sessions about Jewish immigration and the development of the Jewish community in America.

For youth, family/congregational and adults

Ray Frank's Yom Kippur Sermon, 1890
Ray Frank (1861-1948), called the "Girl Rabbi of the Golden West," became the first Jewish woman to preach formally from a pulpit in 1890, when she delivered sermons for the High Holy Days in Spokane, WA. Although the language of her Yom Kippur sermon may sound old fashioned, Frank's message remains both relevant and compelling.

For middle school, high school, family/congregational, adults and adult women

"We Have Found You Wanting": Labor Activism and Communal Responsibility
A Jewish immigrant activist and a lifelong advocate for the rights of workers and of women, Rose Schneiderman shaped the American labor movement. Known as a powerful orator, Schneiderman used her speeches – such as the one she delivered in April, 1911 to protest the tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire – to galvanize leaders and ordinary citizens to action on behalf of workers, immigrants, and other disadvantaged members of society. This edition of Go & Learn uses Schneiderman's speech and life example to explore our communal and individual responsibilities for the well being of others in our midst.

For youth, family/congregational and adults

Jewish American Heritage Month Lesson
Using the Internet and other resources in your classroom and media center, research and respond to questions about Jewish American Heritage Month.

Credit: Image Courtesy of American Memory

"The Industrial Age in America: Sweatshops, Steel Mills, and Factories
About a century has passed since the events at the center of this lesson - the Haymarket Affair, the Homestead Strike, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. For some people in our nation, these incidents illustrated the unfair conditions faced by workers as the United States assumed its position as the most highly industrialized nation in the world. For others, they demonstrated the difficulty of managing industries. Such disagreements continue to this day. Where do we draw the line between acceptable business practices and unacceptable working conditions? Can an industrial—and indeed a post-industrial economy succeed without taking advantage of those who do the work?

Down Home: Jewish Life in North Carolina
This 4th and 8th grade public school curriculum prepared by the Jewish Heritage Foundation of North Carolina complies with North Carolina standards, People of North America. The material is in a pdf with lesson plans and two YouTube videos, all downloadable from the Jewish Heritage Foundation of North Carolina's website. The material can be used in any state since it covers the push and pull factors of immigration which were similar across the country.

Note: The curriculum states that all Americans came from somewhere else, except Native Americans. In fact, all Americans come from somewhere else. The latest research suggests that Native American ancestors are now thought to have come by sea to the Americas.

The pdfs and YouTube videos can be found by clicking on this link:


Just Like Henry
"Just Like Henry" is an education resource, developed by the JDC, to teach the true meaning of "Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh B'Zeh" (All Israel is Responsible One for the Other) to children and youth. The program demonstrates how to put this principle into action by showing Jewish needs around the world today, and gives opportunities and suggestions for personal involvement to help respond to these needs, furthering the student's internalization of the lesson.

"Just Like Henry" is a stand-alone education piece that can be used in supplementary schools, day schools, youth groups, camps, and community-wide settings. It is also perfect for the home. The suggested activities can be adopted by an entire school, class, a small number of students, or even an individual.

"Just Like Henry" is a curriculum including story, material for discussion points, extension activities, practical tools for tikkun olam projects and a glossary of Hebrew and general terms.

For more information related to "Just Like Henry", please write to archives@jdc.org

Jewish-American Hall of Fame Celebrates Jewish Chaplains.

Refuge in Shanghai
Primary source documents and images about JDC support for Jewish refugees in Shanghai during World War II.

A Joint Effort: JDC's Beginnings, 1914-1921
JDC's evolution in the dark time of World War I.


Everything Possible: JDC and the Children of the DP Camps
Following World War II, around 250,000 European Jews who had survived the Holocaust made their way to the displaced persons (DP) camps established by the Allied Armed Forces in Germany, Austria and Italy. These overcrowded and bleak environments provided the barest of necessities. Supplementing the relief supplied by the U.S. Army, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration and its successor, the International Refugee Organization, JDC provided critical services that nourished both body and soul: food, medicine, clothing, tools, educational and religious materials. JDC placed special attention on the unique needs of the growing population of children in the camps.


Book Lists


The Jewish Book Council serves to promote the reading, writing, publication, distribution, and public awareness of books that reflect the rich variety of the Jewish experience.

This is a Soul: The Mission of Rick Hodes by Marilyn Berger

I Live. Send Help. 100 Years of Jewish History in Images from the JDC Archives

I Seek My Brethren: Ralph Goldman and 'the Joint' : Rescue, Relief, and Reconstruction by Tom Shachtman


Books For Young Readers

The following book list for young readers was provided by Sinai Temple Blumenthal Library in Los Angeles, sinaitemple.org.

The Abracadabra kid -- a writer's life
Sid Fleischman. -- N.Y : Greenwillow, 1996.

The autobiography of the Newbery award winning children's author who set out from childhood to be a magician.

An American rhapsody -- the story of George Gershwin
Paul Kresh. -- N.Y : E.P. Dutton, 1988.

Biography of the composer of musical comedies, popular songs, symphonic works, and an opera.

Beverly Sills
Bridget Paolucci. -- N.Y : Chelsea House, 1990.

Biography describes the private and professional life of Jewish opera star Beverly Sills.

The Entertainer and the dybbuk ñ a novel
Sid Fleischman. -- NY : Greenwillow, 2007.

A struggling American ventriloquist in post-World War II Europe is possessed by the mischievous spirit of a young Jewish boy killed in the Holocaust.

Fiddler to the world -- the inspiring life of Itzhak Perlman
Carol H Behrman. -- White Hall, VA : Shoe Tree Press, 1992.

Story of the life of Itzhak Perlman and his accomplishments.

Harry Houdini -- escape artist and master magician
Zachary Kent. -- Berkeley Heights, NJ : Enslow Publishers, 2002.

Examines the life and career of Harry Houdini.

Clinton Cox. -- N.Y : Scholastic, 2001.

Biography of the famous magician.

Ike & Mama and the once-in-a-lifetime movie
Carol Snyder, and Charles, 1931- , illus Robinson. -- N.Y : Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1981.

When Ike and his friends get thrown out of a movie for not paying, Mama insists they pay back the theater owner, which they do by getting parts in a D.W. Griffith movie being made a block away.

In the promised land -- lives of Jewish Americans
Doreen Rappaport, Cornelius, illus Van Wright, and Ying-Hwa, illus Hu. -- NY : HarperCollins, 2005.

Offers vignettes from the lives of thirteen Jewish Americans whose achievements, from the colonial period through the present, contributed to women's and worker's rights, medicine, science, fashion, photography, sport, and entertainment.

Isadora Duncan -- dancer
Ruth Lurie Kozodoy. -- N.Y : Chelsea House, 1988.

Biography of the revolutionary American dancer who paved the way for modern expressive dance.

Jewish comedy stars -- classic to cutting edge
Norman H Finkelstein. -- Minneapolis, MN : Kar-Ben, 2010.

Brief biographies of many current and classic Jewish comedians.

Martha Graham -- a dancer's life
Russell Freedman. -- N.Y : Clarion, 1998.

Photobiography of the American dancer, teacher, and choreographer.

Molly Picon -- a gift of laughter
Lila Perl, and Donna, illus Ruff. -- Phila., PA : Jewish Pub. Soc, 1990.

Follows the life and career of the vibrant Jewish entertainer who performed in Yiddish and English theater, movies, radio, and television.

Music was it -- young Leonard Bernstein
Susan Goldman Rubin. -- Watertown, MA : Charlesbridge, 2011.

Traces the life and career of the famous composer, conductor, pianist, and teacher.(Sydney Taylor Award: 2012)

Song and dance man
Karen Ackerman, and Stephen, illus Gammell. -- N.Y : Alfred A. Knopf, 1988.

Grandpa demonstrates for his grandchildren the songs, dances, and jokes he performed as a vaudeville entertainer. (Caldecott Medal : 1952)

Steven Spielberg
Geoffrey M Horn. -- Milwaukee, WI : World Almanac Library, 2002.

This book discusses the personal life and professional career of the successful motion picture producer and director Steven Spielberg.

Steven Spielberg
Elizabeth Ferber. -- Phila., PA : Chelsea House, 1997.

Biography of the Jewish filmmaker.

Steven Spielberg -- crazy for movies
Susan Goldman Rubin. -- N.Y : Harry N. Abrams, 2001.

Biography of the man behind the camera from childhood through the present time. Includes a select filmography.

The Story of Irving Berlin
David Ewen, and Jane, illus Castle. -- N.Y : Holt, 1950.

Biography reveals the life story and musical accomplishments of Irving Berlin.


Books For Young Readers

The following book list for young readers was provided by the Joseph and Mae Gray Cultural & Learning Center at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL www.nssbethel.org.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Fire and Steel on the Supreme Court
Eleanor H. Ayer (Dillon Press, 1994)

A biography of the second woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court discusses the beginnings of her legal career in the 1950s and 1960s and the development of her views on equal treatment and other issues.

The Mystery of Being Jewish
Molly Cone (UAHC Press, 1989)

Presents biographies of Jewish men and women whose lives had an extraordinary influence on the world around them including Civil Rights volunteer Andrew Goodman, Congresswoman and District Attorney Elizabeth Holtzman, philanthropist Helena Rubinstein, medical physicist Rosalyn Yalow, and others.

Hot Pursuit: Murder in Mississippi
by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon; illustrated by Craig Orback (Kar-Ben, 2010)

Describes the events surrounding the disappearance and murder of the three young civil rights workers--James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner--in Mississippi in 1964.

Portraits of Jewish American Heroes
Malka Drucker; illustrated by Elizabeth Rosen (Dutton Childrens Books, 2008)

Spanning three centuries, the influence and impact on our nation by twenty Jewish artists, inventors, civil right activists, and scientists are examined and celebrated with multi-media illustrations. Includes Haym Salomon, Emma Lazarus, Henrietta Szold, Lillian Wald, Bella Abzug, and others.

Fiddler to the world -- the inspiring life of Itzhak Perlman
Carol H Behrman. -- White Hall, VA : Shoe Tree Press, 1992.

Story of the life of Itzhak Perlman and his accomplishments.

Heeding the Call: Jewish Voices in America's Civil Rights Struggle
Norman H. Finkelstein (Jewish Publication Society, 1997)

Discusses the involvement of Jews in the African American struggle for civil rights in the United States, from the first settlers to the 1990s. See also: Forged in Freedom: Shaping the Jewish-American Experience by Norman H. Finkelstein (Jewish Publication Society, 2002).

Henrietta Szold: Israel's Helping Hand
Shulamit Kustanowitz; illustrated by Robert Masheris (Viking, 1990)

Chronicles the life of the American matriarch of Israel who journeyed to the Holy Land in the early 1900s to provide much-needed medical care, founded Hadassah, and later worked to rescue children from Nazi Germany. See also: Daughter of My People: Henrietta Szold and Hadassah by Hazel Krantz (Dutton, 1987).

Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty
Linda Glaser; illustrated by Claire A. Nivola (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010)

The story of Emma Lazarus, who, despite her life of privilege, became a tireless advocate for the immigrants who arrived in New York City in the 1880s and wrote a famous poem for the Statue of Liberty. See also: Liberty's Voice: The Story of Emma Lazarus by Erica Silverman (Dutton, 2011) and I Lift My Lamp: Emma Lazarus and the Statue of Liberty by Nancy Smiler Levinson (Dutton, 1986).

A Justice for All the People: Louis D. Brandeis
David C. Gross (Dutton, 1987)

A biography of the lawyer, judge, Zionist, and first Jew to serve on the Supreme Court, who helped end child labor in America, introduced the concepts of social security, minimum wage laws, and unemployment compensation, and devoted his life to social justice.

How Dalia Put a Big Yellow Comforter Inside a Tiny Blue Box
Linda Heller; illustrated by Stacey Dressen McQueen (Tricycle Press, 2011)

After learning about the Jewish tradition of tzedakah boxes, Dalia shares her knowledge with her younger brother, Yossi, by telling him what her savings can help to provide for someone in need.

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909
Michelle Markel; illustrated by Melissa Sweet (HarperCollins, 2013)

An illustrated account of immigrant Clara Lemlich's pivotal role in the influential 1909 women laborer's strike describes how she worked grueling hours to acquire an education and support her family before organizing a massive walkout to protest the unfair working conditions in New York's garment district.

Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy
Albert Marrin (Knopf, 2011)

Describes the conditions in the textile industry in the early 20th century behind the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company that led to the death of many young women, and explains its impact on the labor movement and on society.

As Good as Anybody: Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschels Amazing March Toward Freedom
Richard Michelson; illustrated by Raul Colon (Knopf, 2008)

The story of the friendship between civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and their collective efforts to end discrimination through their non-violent peace protests and marches. See also: Abraham Joshua Heschel: Man of Spirit, Man of Action by Or N. Rose (Jewish Publication Society, 2003).

What Zeesie Saw on Delancey Street
Elsa Okon Rael; illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (Simon and Schuster, 1996)

A young Jewish girl living on Manhattan's Lower East Side attends her first "package party" where she learns about the traditions of generosity, courage, and community among Jewish immigrants in the early 1900s.

In the Promised Land: Lives of Jewish Americans
Doreen Rappaport; illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu (HarperCollins, 2005)

Offers vignettes from the lives of thirteen Jewish Americans whose achievements, from the colonial period through the present, contributed to women's and worker's rights, medicine, science, fashion, photography, sport, and entertainment. Includes Asser Levy, Ernestine Rose, Lillan Wald, Pauline Newman, Ira Hirschmann, Jonas Salk, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and others.

Haym Salomon: American Patriot
Susan Goldman Rubin; illustrated by David Slonim (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2007)

A picture book biography of Haym Salomon, the Jewish immigrant from Poland credited with being the "Financier of the American Revolution." See also: Haym Salomon, Liberty's Son by Shirley Milgrim (Jewish Publication Society, 1975).


Readings on the American Jewish Labor Movement

The following book list link was provided by Jewish Labor Committee, jewishlaborcommittee.org.

Visual Resources


Entertainment Cards (View PDF)

These cards, prepared by the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, show prominent Jewish entertainers from the nation's capital city and Jewish-owned venues, especially theaters.

Jewish roots in Washington's entertainment world go back more than a hundred years. At the turn of the 20th century, young Asa, son of Rabbi Moses Yoelson, sang at his father's Talmud Torah synagogue in Southwest before running away to become Al Jolson. The famous entertainer would leave a lasting legacy, forever changing American show business.

In 1907 A.C. Mayer joined Aaron and Julian Brylawski to open Washington's first Jewish-owned nickelodeon, the Palace Theatre, where for a nickel patrons watched melodramas, comedies, and live vaudeville skits (cover photograph). Thus began a long line of Jewish-owned movie theaters and distributors.

The tradition continues today with such Jewish-owned local entertainment institutions as the 9:30 Club, Chuck Levin's Washington Music Center, and the Washington DC Jewish Community Center's Theater J with its Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater. Many of the Washington-area's revered theater companies were founded by members of the local Jewish community.

Please contact the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington at (202) 789-0900 or info@jhsgw.org to inquire about printed copies of these 5"x7" cards.



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