Am – People

Please download the study booklet here

AM: People

Meditate: Peoplehood

What does it mean to be a part of the Jewish people?  What are examples of other “peoples”? How are those different or the same as the Jews?

Is it a geographic determination or a genetic one? Based on a sacred task?

Are ‘the Jews’ a family you are born into? Or a group that you choose to become a part of? And this: Can you opt out?

Debate: Who are the Jewish People?

For Teens:  “What Does Jewish Look Like to You?…”

Action Item:Screen the Hebrew Mamita video –


Discussion points:

  • What does it mean to “look” Jewish?
  • While there are not physical characteristics that all Jews share, are there other kinds of characteristics? A certain set of experiences?
  • The Hebrew Mamita refers to the Holocaust as an experience that defined the Jewish people… what are positive experiences that bind the Jews together as a people?
  • Why do you think “You don’t look Jewish” was meant as a compliment? How does that make you feel?
For Families:  Bonding Time
Action Item:Ask children to list important relationships in their lives (friends, relatives, acquaintances, etc…)

Discussion points:

  • Define the word “bond.”
  • What are the bonds that make you feel connected to the people on the list?
  • Is the family bond stronger than the bond of an acquaintance or even a best friend?
  • What would make them feel close to that distant cousin (a family crisis? a family celebration?)
  • Does one feel more connected to a distant cousin or to a best friend?
  • What makes [some] family ties strong? (Shared personal history? Other?)

(Another Idea:

If in a group setting, gather kids in a circle and have each participant hold on to the end of a ball of yarn and throw ball to the other (creating a web).  Convey idea that Jewish people is a Jewish family, interconnected in many ways (language, custom, culture, history) no matter how distant from one another.)

For Adult Education: The Community and the Self

Action Item:Screen the video –


Discussion points:

  • According to Rabbi Roly Matalon, being a Jew is about “going through life in a meaningful way as a part of a community and as a part of a people.”   – –

Is being a part of a people a constituent part of being Jewish? Is this sense of community the only way to ground a Jew in all the other aspects of Jewish?

  • What are the most salient parts of Jewish life for you?  Where does your connection to peoplehood fit in? Where does personal responsibility / identity fit in?


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