Judaism in a Nutshell – Part II



We started the new lesson last Friday. First I explained to my students that in History, German and English they would deal with Jews in Medieval Europe, culminating with a visit to Paris where we would visit Le Marais, the Paris district where Jews had settled in the Middle Ages, as well as the Jewish Museum, which is situated in the same district. They seemed to like the idea.

I then handed out the worksheet with the matching exercise and I was actually pleasantly surprised to see that they knew more terms than I would have credited them for.

Everybody was able to match Israel and Jerusalem with their definitions. Bar mitzvah was another term that most of them knew because of the film The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob.

The other best-known words were: ghetto, synagogue, Holocaust, rabbi and Torah. Some of those who knew bar mitzvah understood what bat mitzvah meant. More difficult ones were: diaspora, antisemitism (because of the way I had worded the definition), kippah and Torah scrolls. There were a few left which they will have to identify for homework.

The biggest surprise came when a student matched Shabbat with its definition. I then asked if they knew what day Shabbat was. Quite a number of students did and a boy added that it started the day before. I am still wondering ho whe knew this.

This was one of the most satisfying lessons I had had with this particular class. They were interested and put in more work than they usually do. Besides it was nice to see that some who are not very good at English were able to share a different type of knowledge; something which seemed to be proud of.

The next step will be an extract from The Physician, since it is set in Medieval England at the beginning and at the end.

16 thoughts on “Judaism in a Nutshell – Part II

    • Thank you for your kind words but I am not the one who showed them the film. It is a very popular movie in France and for its Jewish aspect they consulted a rabbi so that there are no religious inaccuracies.

  1. That’s wonderful that the lesson worked out so well – especially since you obviously put a great deal of thought into it and because I know that it’s a topic which is very close to your heart!

  2. I don’t know why I was momentarily shocked to see the word ‘ghetto’. It was so much a part of our lives in so many European countries and yet the connection of the word to our religion saddens me.
    I’m so glad that you were positively surprised by the class’ knowledge. What a nice change.

    • I adapted a worksheet I had found online and discarded a number of terms they had put since I didn’t think they were relevant for my students but I kept the word “ghetto” (a word they knew from other contexts) as I wanted them to connect it to Jewish history.

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