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The CIE mission is to be a source destination for learners and educators about modern Israel. We produce and present Israel’s complex story via innovative learning platforms: workshops, podcasts, source compilations, and timely commentary of current issues. We believe that Jews especially, should know Israel like they know the ‘Four Questions.’
Shalom <<First Name>>

L'shanah tovah,

From everyone at  the Center for Israel
Education, we wish you and your family a year of sweetness, blessings, and joy.

For the Educator
CIE Tips for Infusing Israel into Your Teaching about the High Holidays

The upcoming High Holidays provide a natural way to incorporate Israel, whether through arts and culture, history, or through Jewish texts.  Here are two ways that CIE suggests you might infuse Israel into this year's holiday teaching and preparation. As an educator you could use only the ideas noted here, or use the poetry referenced. We also think that a short discussion or a sermon might be crafted from these ideas.
  • The Akedah and Israeli Poetry - On the second day of Rosh Hashanah we read the story of the binding of Isaac when God puts Abraham to the test.  The theme of the Akedah is very prominent in Israeli literature. It is used by both the founders of the state and later generations to symbolize both the sacrifices that the Zionist founders endured, as well as the rejection of the exaggerated idea that the Zionists sacrificed unduly to found the state.  Two poems (among many) that illustrate this change are Haim Gouri's "Heritage" (1960) and "Yehuda Amichai's "The Real Hero of the Akedah was the Ram" (1983). Before looking at the poems you may wish to evaluate how the story of Zionism includes or exaggerates the concept of sacrificing for their fellow Jews. Is it legitimate criticism to say the Zionists did not sacrifice for the next generation?
Some questions to consider in using these poems:
  • How is each poem similar and/or different in its treatment of the Akedah?
  • What symbolism does each poet use?
  • What does it mean that Isaac's offspring are, "born with a knife in their hearts?"
  • What does the ram symbolize in Amichai's poem?
Looking for more:
Read, "The Meaning of the Akedah in Israeli Culture and Jewish Tradition," by Avi Sagi, Israel Studies; Spring 98, Vol. 3 Issue 1, p 45
  • The Different Meaning of Yom Kippur in Israel -  As a result of the history of Israel, the most holy and serious day of the Jewish year has taken new meanings for Israelis since the 1973 War.  At Kibbutz Beit Hashita in the Jezreel Valley, this is especially true as the kibbutz lost 11 members during the Yom Kippur War, the largest number as a percentage of the population of any town in Israel.  In 1988, as part of the 60th anniversary of the Kibbutz, composer Yair Rosenblum (who wrote Shir L'shalom) composed an updated version of the traditional high holiday prayer, Unetaneh Tokef.  The tune is incredibly popular throughout Israel.  In addition to changing the tune, Rosenblum's version also omits the last line of the prayer, "But You are the King, the Living and Enduring God."
Some questions to consider in using this prayer:
  • How do Israelis/Zionists make meaning of traditional Jewish theology and prayers?
  • Why do you think Rosenblum omitted the last line?
  • How is Rosenblum's melody different than what you might hear in your synagogue on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur?
  • Is there a connection between the loss experienced at Beit Hashita in 1973 and the suffering of Rabbi Amnon (the purported author of the prayer)?
Looking for more:
Read, "Book Excerpt: Who by Fire, Who by Water," by Rabbi Dalia Marx, Ph.D, Hadassha Magazine


These are just two ways to infuse Israel into your high holiday preparation.  If you wish, please share some other ideas, how they were received, and where you used them  Click here to follow CIE on Facebook and post your ideas.  Shanah Tovah.

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