Tractate Independence

A New Curriculum

Tractate Independence is a collaborative effort between Jewish LearningWorks and the Jerusalem-based organization Rabbis for Human Rights.

Tractate Independence takes a Talmudic approach to the study of Israel's Declaration of Independence. It explores critical issues facing Israeli society through the lens of Jewish history and literature. The curriculum challenges the learner to discover the multifaceted reality of Israel in the context of its founding vision.

The educational program is comprised of two booklets: Text Study Pages and Lesson Plans.  The program focuses on two paragraphs in the Declaration: The first paragraph and the thirteenth paragraph and examines them through different lenses.  

Tractate Independence Sample Lessons
Intended for middle and high school students, this curriculum sample hones in on two lenses: 

Kam - Arose
The first line in the Declaration states:
"The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people." 
And in another translation:
"In the Land of Israel the Jewish people came into being." 
This lesson examine the meaning of the Hebrew verb kam used in the first line of Israel's Declaration of Independence. Though the official translation is "birthplace" and the Independence Hall's translation is "came into being," the word has a wealth of meanings.  Through sources ranging from the Biblical to the contemporary, students are encouraged to explore the connection between the Jewish people and its land.
Sample pages and lesson plans

Dror/Hofesh/Herut - Liberty
Paragraph thirteenth of the Declaration reads:
"The State of Israel...will be based on freedom...as envisaged by the prophets of Israel".
This lesson explores the different meanings of freedom and its synonyms. A variety of texts from the Torah and prophets, to rabbinic, medieval and modern commentaries, legal covenants and poetry provide an opportunity to explore the value of freedom and its limitations.
Sample pages and lesson plans  

We are currently piloting the program in a few local schools.
To exploring this resource, please contact  ivitemberg@jewishlearningworks.org