Chapter 1: Demography – Where are the Jews today and how did they get there?

One of the most difficult series of questions in the Jewish world today concerns demography. How many Jews actually exist in the world today? What is happening to the Jewish population in different centers of the world? What are the relative shares of Israel and Diaspora in the overall Jewish population of the world? And as important as the numbers themselves are, the really crucial questions lie underneath the surface.

What is the meaning of the numbers? What is the nature of the changing balance of demographic power between the State of Israel and the Diaspora as a whole? What trends do they suggest? What are the implications of today’s numbers for tomorrow’s future? And perhaps the most difficult question of Jews for those who spend their lives counting Jews: Who, exactly do you count? In other words, for the purpose of demographic calculations, who is a Jew?

Click for the downloadable pdf of this chapter. (more…)

Continue ReadingChapter 1: Demography – Where are the Jews today and how did they get there?

Telling the Story: The Four Genres of Zionist History

This lesson explores the nature of historical narrative: the ways in which we interpret historical events. We will learn a four-genre model of literary style, and use this model to look at the key events from Zionist history through 4 different different prisms. (more…)

Continue ReadingTelling the Story: The Four Genres of Zionist History

Locating ourselves on the map of history – 3

Just as this course assumes that a fully realized Jewish identity should include feeling at home in the geography of Israel even if one has never set foot there, so too, we feel it is important to be oriented in the “map” of Jewish history: to have a sense of the flow of Jewish chronology in the context of world history, to be aware of major turning points and personalities.  Moreover, we believe it is important for a teacher to be involved in the conversation about the historical significance of Israel: did the Jews “leave history” when they lost their national independence?  Did we “return to history” in 1948?  Are we living in messianic times?  How we relate to Israel and how we teach Israel are inseparable from these philosophical questions.


Continue ReadingLocating ourselves on the map of history – 3