This lesson introduces students to the idea of social action and prompts them to find their own form of activism.
The students who formed the organization The Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry saw a problem: people were being denied their basic human rights simply because they were Jews. They could have just thought, “those people are far away; what could I possibly do to help them?” Instead, they formed an organization, worked tirelessly for years, and eventually helped hundreds of thousands of people to begin new lives under better conditions. There are many problems in the world today that could use some fixing. In this lesson you are challenged to think of a cause to champion in order to make the world a better place.
At the end of the lesson, students will be able:
- Explain why Judaism requires the performance of chesed both to a Jew and to a non-Jew
- List different acts and motivations behind doing chesed
- Create a social action project
Essential Question: How will I apply Jewish principles of Tikkun Olam to a specific cause?
Watch the video: the Mensch of Malden Mills –
(start at 1:13)
-What does the Mill owner identify as his inspiration for paying his workers?
-What is so extraordinary about his actions?
-Why not take the $300 million and let the factory workers find a new job or go on welfare?
Text Study: What does Judaism say about social action? Read the source sheet and discuss.
Create an Initiative: Students should research a cause (either a chesed or tzedakah) that will impact themselves, your community, your society and the world at large.
Here are the following steps they should follow in order to create something meaningful and be able to implement it:
- Choose a problem
- Brainstorm possible solutions
- Build a team
- Convince people to join you
- Raise money
- Carry out your solution
- Evaluate and Reflect
- Don’t Give Up!
Eli Winkelman started Challah for Hunger (CfH) as a student at Scripps College in 2004. She missed baking challah with her family and was looking for a connection to the Jewish community at her school. To solve this, Eli began baking challah with friends, and quickly realized she and her friends could use challah-baking to mobilize and educate others. They began selling the challah and donating the profits to social justice causes. Word of Eli’s project spread, and soon Eli was guiding students, from all corners of the globe, as they started their own CfH chapters.
Do Something – want to undertake a meaningful activity to “do something” without tying it to a wider topic? Here’s the site for you. You will find many ideas for short campaigns that will raise awareness and make a difference. Many ideas can be adapted or modified to meet the needs of different age levels.