Journey to the Mizrah
Curriculum For Jewish Day and High Schools
To date, the study of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewish heritage, Jewish multiculturalism, and the ethnic diversity of the Jewish people has not been integrated as a regular component of Jewish day schools, despite the fact that 50% of Israeli Jews and roughly 20% of American Jews identify as Mizrahi and Sephardic. As North America’s Jewish community becomes more diverse, it is essential that our Jewish schools receive high-level content and support to begin fully integrating Jewish Multiculturalism and Mizrahi Heritage Studies into their regular Jewish history surveys, curriculum, and school activities.
JIMENA’s North American Jewish Multiculturalism and Mizrahi Heritage Studies initiative serves as a replicable national model of an inclusive Jewish educational program that embraces and reflects the Jewish diversity of our own shifting communities, while educating and empowering Jewish educators and students on Jewish Multiculturalism and Mizrahi Heritage Studies.
Incorporating modulated Jewish Multiculturalism and Mizrahi Heritage Studies into Jewish Day Schools will broaden and strengthen students’ knowledge, understanding and language around issues of Jewish diversity, Jewish and Middle Eastern demographics and values, and contemporary Jewish identities and experiences. It will teach on the vibrant Jewish rituals and traditions of tolerance, inclusivity, and spiritual flexibility which are core components of Sephardic and Mizrahi heritage. Regardless of family background, all students, but particularly those who identify as the “other”, will be given a safe classroom space to explore and share their Jewish identities and backgrounds.
Lesson Plans Included in the Curriculum
Around the Middle Eastern Jewish World Provides students with an overview of Sephardic and Middle Eastern Jewry. Students will understand how Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews came to exist as groups and will learn cultural and ethnic indicators of these groups.
Celebrating Sephardic Clothing Introduces students to Sephardic rituals where special clothing is worn. Students will be able to articulate the values that inspire these clothing traditions and be given the opportunity to try on a kaftan.
Forgotten Refugees Students will learn the term “refugee” by being introduced to the individual stories of Jewish refugees from North Africa and the Middle East. Students celebrate the lives and contributions of former Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
Henna Party An Immersive mock henna ceremony provides students the opportunity to learn about North African and Yemenite henna traditions.
Open Your Hand – HAMSA Primer into Sephardic and Mizrahi symbolism and values by focusing on the open hand. Students will create their own Hamsa to take home.
Middle Eastern Jewish Cuisine In this session students will learn about Sephardic and Mizrahi food and will ask the question: What makes food Jewish? What Jewish foods do we know and which foods are new to us?
Hafla! The Roots of Mizrahi Music Introduces students to the origins of Mizrahi music. Students will listen to several songs and will learn how to sing a classic Piyut or Jewish liturgical song according to the Yemenite tradition.
Oral Histories Presents the stories of Middle Eastern Jewish refugees and introduces students to the benefit and techniques of collecting and preserving family stories.
Photomapping A school-wide map activity introduces students to their classmates’ countries of origin.
Sephardic Storyteller Students will experience the beauty and wealth of Sephardic and Mizrahi folktales and will get to
Our Names, Our Identity In this session students will learn about the meaning of names in the creation of identity and will participate in activity to honor their family names and the family names of those different from them.
My Heart is the in East: Mizrahi Museum An exploration of student family heirlooms and on opportunity for students to present their family’s culture to the student body. Students will create an exhibit of their family heritage.
Lesson plans to be added in 2018: The Reach of the Holocaust in North Africa, Dhimmitude
What Can JIMENA Provide?
Jewish schools and educators will receive copies of the curriculum and one on one support to begin the process of fully integrating Jewish Multiculturalism and Mizrahi Heritage Studies as a regular component of their Jewish history survey courses and curriculum. In addition to lesson plans, the curriculum includes a comprehensive list of resources, tools and information on the subject of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews and Jewish multiculturalism. JIMENA is committed to supporting the adoption of the program into all North American Jewish Day Schools and High Schools and we look forward to hearing from you!
For more information, please contact JIMENA’s Education Program Manager, Nicole Hakimi