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New ShalomLearning Curriculum: Jewish Pride and Unity

April 2024

The current worldwide spike in antisemitism comes with serious concerns not just the physical, but also the emotional well-being of Jewish children. Many antisemitic claims are not related to the average North American Jew, but it can be easy to internalize these messages of hate and believe that being Jewish harms the world.  Many leading mental health and educational professionals are promoting the concept of increasing Jewish pride as a way to combat antisemitism.  

As Jewish educators, we must find ways to help our students cope with the effects of antisemitism.  ShalomLearning has invested in the development of new Jewish Pride and Unity lessons for our partners to help young Jewish students connect with their Jewish heritage, feel proud to be Jewish and give them a voice to stand up to antisemitism..

Focusing on increasing Jewish pride “is a proven antidote to the destructive power of hate,” according to educator and author Ben Freeman. He says,  “We must see our Jewishness as the gift that it is; learning our story and understanding how it continues to shape our identities. We are not what the world says we are. We reject their attempts to shame us. We will hold our heads high, honor our specificity, and shout with a resounding voice: Am Yisrael Chai. The People of Israel live. Proudly.”

This is the approach ShalomLearning is taking in our Jewish Pride and Unity lessons. The lessons are age-based so that we don’t scare younger students or teach them concepts they aren’t ready to grasp. But as a community, we must acknowledge that students of all ages may be exposed to hatred in different forms, from negative stereotyping and vandalism to violence or worse. 

For tweens and teens, these problems can be exacerbated by social media, which often distorts basic facts and provides a skewed sense of reality. Despite these challenges, educators must find a way to arm our students with tools to help them feel empowered against this hate.

  • Grade 3 and 4 curriculum:  With a focus on family, we strengthen Jewish pride by celebrating Jewish traditions and holidays, expressing love for Judaism, and taking pride in Jewish family activities. The goal is for every young student to see the joy in living a Jewish life and feel empowered in the face of rising antisemitism.
  • Grade 5-6 curriculum:  Focusing on peers and community, we increase Jewish pride in the context of each Jewish value. Students will be encouraged to learn from their classmates and support each other to build unity and resilience.
  • Grade 7 curriculum: Jewish hate can quickly go viral on social media and Jewish tweens and teens can feel shame, low self-esteem, or feelings of dissociation with their Jewish identity as they struggle to distinguish fact from fiction. With a focus on digital citizenship, we teach 7th graders how to cope with the hatred of Jews on social media, how to distinguish fact from fiction and build a strong Jewish identity to navigate social media in a healthy way.

Together, we can overcome Jewish hate by strengthening our Jewish communities and building the next generation of proud Jewish leaders. 

To learn more contact us at [email protected] or (301) 660-3800.

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