Biographies of Heroes Help Explore Values and Character Traits

Inspired by a groundbreaking exhibition at ANU - Museum of the Jewish People (formerly Beit Hatfutsot) in Tel Aviv and published by Behrman House, The Hero in Me is a series of short biographies to help students learn about themselves an their global Jewish community through five traits:

    • courage
    • kindness
    • creativity
    • curiosity
    • fairness

Storytelling is perhaps the most effective way to convey meaning to children,” said David Behrman, publisher. “These biographies offer bite-size insights into what makes a hero, and how our young readers can build those qualities into their own lives.”

The Hero in Me consists of a set of five booklets for students and a guide for teachers and parents. 

Here are two activities, adapted from the teacher's guide to using biographies with children.

What inspires heroes to act bravely?

Hero: Natan Sharansky; Trait: Courage

1. Have students make two columns on a piece of paper. Label the top of one column "What Happened to the Hero" and label the other column "How the Hero Felt and Acted."

2. Read the profile of Sharansky and ask students what happened to him that was beyond his control. List those on the left column.

3. Ask students what actions Sharansky took in response to those events and how he felt. List those responses on the right column.

4. Pair up students to debate the pros and cons of what Sharansky did. Are there different ways of showing courage? Have volunteers share with the larger group.

How do kindness heroes change the world?

Heroes : Henrietta Szold and Doña Gracia Nasi; Trait: Kindness

1. Create a Venn diagram on a large piece of paper or on screen. Label one "Henrietta Szold" and the other "Doña Gracia Nasi."

2. Read profiles of both women. Ask students to identify as many kind actions as they can in the profiles, and add them to the circles in the diagram. 

3. Compare the two kindness heroes and write similar acts of kindness in the overlapping center of the Venn digaram. Dicuss what these similariries tell us about kind people and their actions.

4. Szold was a volunteer. Ask students how volunteering would be challenging and rewarding. Nasi used money for acts of chesed. Ask students how people who don't have much money can also be generous. Brainstorm ways to be generous that don't involve money.


The Museum of the Jewish People’s exhibition “Heroes - Trailblazers of the Jewish People” encourages children and their families to discover and redefine those qualities that make a hero. The exhibition features profiles and accomplishments of Jewish historical and contemporary figures including scientists, philosophers, cultural icons, inventors, athletes, designers and more. Visit the Heroes and Trailblazers exhibition at ANU - Museum of the Jewish People: Heroes and Trailblazers.

Student and teacher material for The Hero in Me is available through Behrman House and is also available on Amazon.  E-book versions are also available for Kindle and Apple.


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