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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>>

Hag Sameach

From everyone at  the Center for Israel
Education, we hope that you and your family enjoy a Hag filled with joy

For the Educator
CIE Tips for Infusing Israel into Your Teaching

The festivals of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah offer wonderful ways to bring Israel into your holiday preparation, teaching, and celebration.  Here are three ways that CIE suggests you might infuse Israel into this year's teaching and preparation for these upcoming holidays.
  • Ushpizin for Modern Times - Beginning with Maimonides in the 12th century, Sukkot became connected to welcoming guests and helping the poor.  This theme was extended in the 16th century by the Kabbalists who created a practice of welcoming seven guests, one for each night of the festival.  These "exalted men of Israel" are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David.  Some Sephardim will even set aside a special chair for the Ushpizin each night, and recently, many others have expanded the list to include the great women of Israel as well; Sarah, Rachel, Rebecca, Leah, Miriam, Abigail, and Esther.
As an activity for students or families:
In thinking about the spirit of the Ushpizin and connecting the concept to the birth and growth of modern Israel,

Who would be the 7 Ushpizin who have played a role in the birth and growth of Modern Israel that you would choose to have as guests in your sukkah and why?
  • After they have chosen their "new Ushpizin", have students create posters or plaques with their rationale for inclusion to hang in your school's sukkah
  • What criteria should be used in selecting these "new Ushpizin?"
  • Have a class debate about which important figures should be included
  • Create Ushpizin for areas other than History - Issraeli Arts and Culture, Science, etc.
  • Sukkot's Significance as an Environmental & Agricultural Holiday -  The connection of Sukkot to the Exodus from Egypt is a more recent phenomenon.  The holiday's roots are as a harvest festival (another name for the holiday is Hag Ha'asif - the Harvest Holiday) of the seasonal fruits and as a time of Thanksgiving and gathering before the onset of the winter rains.  The origins of building a Sukkah came from when the farmers would dwell with their families in them to be close to the harvest in celebration of a job completed.
As an activity for students or families:
  • Learn more about agriculture in Israel today by researching farms in Israel and learning more about Israel's agricutlural contributions to the world of farming.
  • Research the significance of the four species used during Sukkot and discover their connection to eretz Yisrael.  The Jewish Agency for Israel has a good overview of this.
  • Pick one of the articles from the Enviroment section of Israel 21C for students to learn more about environmental advancements being made in Israel today.  The students can create posters about some of the projects and display them in your school's Sukkah.
  • The Prayer for Rain -  On Shemini Atzeret, The musaf service begins with geshem, a special prayer for Rain. From then until the first day of Passover, one says in the Amidah, mashiv haruach umorid hageshem—”who causes the wind to blow and the rain to come down.”  These prayers are significant because the rainy season falls during the Holy Land’s winter months. If sufficient rain comes down in the winter, the rich soil will produce abundant crops. If not, the country faces famine and starvation.
As an activity for students or families:
  • Investigate and report on the connection between Israel's geography/climate and Jewish practices and customs (Prayer for rain in winter, prayer for dew in Summer)
  • Discuss: Why do Diaspora Jews recite a prayer for rain where water is abundant? (strenghtens our spiritual connection to the land)
  • Research recent winter rainfalls in Israel and its impact on society, economoy, agriculture there. 

These are just a few ways to infuse Israel into your holiday preparation and 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.  Hag Sameach

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