Materials for Adults

Sermon Sparks - for Rabbis

Looking for a way to talk about current Israel in your sermons? Looking to tie the Parashah in with Israel in an intelligent way? Look no further. These Sermon Sparks are for your use. Feel free to download, to comment, and to send us your own sermon sparks you’d like to share.

Terumah – download pdf print-outonline page

Ki Tissa – online page

Vayakhel – online page

Vayikra – download pdf print-outonline page

Tazria-Metzora – download pdf print-out –  online page

Metzora – download pdf print-outonline page

Achrei Mot – download pdf print-out –  online page

Omer – download pdf print-out –  online page

Pesach doubt – download pdf print-out –  online page

Pesach – dealing with enemies

Pesach – 5th cup – download pdf print-out –  online page

Kedoshim – download pdf print-outonline page

Behar – download pdf print-outonline page

Naso – download pdf print-outonline page

Behaalotcha – download pdf print-outonline page

Behaalotcha (Moses’ leadership) – download pdf print-outonline page

We are beginning a Forum for Rabbis to share their Israel-related sermon sparks – please join us in creating a dynamic Rabbinical Open Source Israel…

Car Pool Conversations

Sometimes the most appropriate moments for an exploration of an idea with our kids is in the car. During that dead time between home and school, or home and sports practice, lies an untapped opportunity for meaning.

Here we offer you a suggestive guide for three key conversations about Israel. The developmental level of these conversations ranges from five years upwards, but the topics under discussion underlie some of the most adult and complex issues about Israel today.

The discussions are not designed to lead anyone to any specific conclusions. What they are designed to do is to give you and your child the opportunity to develop a shared language that allows you to address complex ideas together.



Israel and Jewish Experience - Ksharim curriculum

A broad and in-depth curriculum for adults –  43 fully annotated sessions – Israel throughout all aspects of Jewish text and Jewish life: from Israel in the bible, to Jewish holidays, Jewish history, liturgy, life cycle events, contemporary issues, and beyond.

This curriculum was written by Rabbi Dr. Marc Rosenstein, and co-authored by Sigalit Ur and Tova Sacher  (of the Galilee Foundation for Value Education), in a joint development project of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and Makom.


Real Talk

What is Real Talk and who is it for?

Real Talk  is a resource for facilitators working with a group of Jewish leaders, in order to help them think differently about how Israel engagement happens in their particular context. It will be appropriate for use with a wide variety of audiences and settings, including, but not solely: lay leaders of Federation committees or Synagogue boards with Israel remits; day school faculty who want to think about the place of Israel in their curriculum; groups of rabbis coming together for in-service professional development study; or even student activists who want to revitalize their Hillel. While not a curriculum per se, it offers a narrative description of how these sessions were successfully run by one particular individual. From this record or documentation, it is hoped that the reader will be able to internalize the ideas and methods of the unit, and adopt or adapt them as needed for his or her own context. The guide can be followed rigorously and exactly, to try to recreate the precise moves described, or it can be used more as a resource or idea base which can be massaged, customized, and added to for different contexts, as appropriate.

Why do we need to Change the Way we do Israel Engagement?

Many Jews, especially those who have not visited Israel, are caught between the Scylla of negativity and the Charybdis of myth. The Scylla is the plethora of negative received images about Israel that the average Jew sees and hears every day: Israel is perceived as a place that is extremely dangerous; at constant war; responsible for aggressive actions against the Palestinians that are difficult if not impossible to understand; a place with a severe poverty problem; a country whose inhabitants live in personal situations that are to be pitied. On the other hand, the Charybdis – the mythic view of Israel that certain elements of the Jewish community seek, consciously or not, to perpetuate – perceives Israel as a heroic nation; a Davey Crocket fighting off the Mexicans; with the strongest army in the world; a place of incredible high-tech achievements and intellectual brilliance; a place where oranges grow in the desert and Microsoft turns to for its best ideas.

Both of these perspectives, of course, contain elements of truth, but are, for the most part, quite distorted pictures of a more complex and nuanced reality. But from an educational perspective, lack of “accuracy” is just one problem. Perhaps even more worrisome is the fact that these images of Israel have extremely problematic educational implications. Firstly, the overload of negative images creates enormous barriers that Israel educators have to overcome. Who would want to visit a war-torn, poverty-stricken place like that? Who would want to have a relationship with it? You might feel sorry for it, but would you want to “engage” with it? Secondly, the “antidote,” while an important component of Zionist identity for a certain older generation, is often seen as suspect by many young Jews. Who can blame them? If highly respected media outlets tell you one thing, and the local Jewish paper tells you another, who are you likely to believe? Thirdly, the Jewish community itself is caught in a confused tension with its messages. On the one hand we want to raise money for Israel, and it’s perhaps easiest to do so by peddling the “poverty” image. On the other hand, we also want to attract our best and brightest young people to visit Israel and engage with it, so we also send out the “Microsoft” messages. Mixed messages such as these are not conducive to educational success.

The Challenge

How, then, do we get Jewish leaders of all varieties to think differently about Israel engagement? How do we break ourselves out of our old paradigms and expose ourselves to the new ideas about Israel engagement with which MAKOM seeks to imbue the world Jewish community? And how do we do this quickly and efficiently, both respecting our audience’s past and present service to the Jewish community, and also inspiring them to re-envision what their future service might look like?

This mini-curriculum of three sessions is a response to these difficult and complex challenges. These sessions were held (in a slightly different format) with a group of lay leaders from the Jewish Federation of Metrowest New Jersey in fall-winter 2005-6, and with a group of synagogue lay leaders, also from the Metrowest area, in fall-winter 2006-7.

The central educational and political challenge in running such sessions is that, by definition, these will usually focus critically on the kinds of ideas and modes of action that the participants have been creating, working in, and committed to, for several years. However, one cannot simply walk in and say, “What you have been doing until now is wrong”. Rather, the educational challenge is to create stimuli that will lead to the participants arriving at certain realizations on their own. Only then will they truly buy into the MAKOM vision ­because only then will it truly be theirs.

John Dewey, in The Child and The Curriculum, wrote that education is not about letting the learners do whatever they want, nor about merely presenting learners with facts as a “hieroglyphs”. Rather, it is about starting with the learners and finding ways to have them move themselves to the established ideas of the curriculum. That is precisely the challenge in these three sessions.

Note to the Facilitator:

In what follows, I will attempt to walk you through the sessions as I ran them. Again, please note that this is not a curriculum, but a narrative description of what I did, and what my goals were in doing it. Much of what you will read below consists of my own idiosyncrasies and teaching “shtick,” which is unique to me and no better or worse than your own tried and trusted methods and styles. The aim is not to have you copy me; it’s to give you a sense of what I did, in the hope that you will be able to adapt it as necessary for your own personal style. Handouts referred to in the text below can be found in the Appendix at the end of this leader’s guide.

Hakhel - Engaging Israel


Conceptual conversations surrounding Israel

               Created January 2005 – טבת תשס”ה

 Though several years “old”, this material is still of great relevance to World Jewry, particularly in North America. In many ways, these sessions cover the core, foundational questions that guide the field of Israel Engagement today. “Hak’hel” was designed to help North American Jewish adults re-engage with and explore the essential issues that underpin their relationship with Israel.

The name “Hak’hel” is drawn from the event described in the Torah at the end of Sukkot, when the entire nation of Israel gathers together to listen to the reading of the Book of Deuteronomy. In this grand, dramatic moment, all of the people come as one to participate in a shared Jewish experience. In designing a curriculum that explored the core questions surrounding Israel, we chose to draw specifically from this image: the coming together to a nationwide conversation on core values. At the same time, the conversation also allows for multi-vocality, for each individual to process in his or her own way.

Hak’hel’s Session topics include:


Nine Days of We

In this wonderful short interview, Avram Infeld lays out a vision for understanding Yom Ha’atzmaut as part of a process that begins on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, 9 days before Yom Ha’atzmaut. 

With this inspiring vision in mind, we offer a variety of programming that might be appropriate for this period in the Jewish calendar. 

Thinking about Haredim in Israel

makom lockup

This material was created by Makom for the Committee on the Unity of the Jewish People, of the Jewish Agency for Israel. 

As the number of Israelis seen to be Haredi grows, so it seems does lack of knowledge about the nature of Haredim in Israel. We would like to offer some materials aimed at adults, for English-speaking Jewish communities around the world to begin to address some of the presenting issues.

Here you will find

  1. A “plug and play” outline of a two-hour seminar you can run in your community.
  2. Suggestions for further exploration of issues emerging from this material.
  3. The “plug and play” seminar broken down into its modular parts, if you have less time on your hands.


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