Israel Resources for Every Age
More than ever, North American children and teens want to discuss Israel.
Sivan Zakai, author of National Jewish Book Award winner My Second Favorite Country: How American Jewish Children Think about Israel has advice for ways to approach discussing the current crisis with our kids. You can find additional advice from educators such as Michelle Shapiro Abraham and others here.
You may be seeking lessons, maps, timelines and other materials you can use today to refresh your own knowledge, engage kids (and even their parents) in discussion, help them find answers to their questions, and grapple with the historical context of today's crisis.
We have put together suggestions for lessons and a selection of online and free downloadable resources from the Behrman House library to support your conversations and classroom sessions with learners of all ages.
For our youngest children
Our development profiles tell us our three- and four-year-olds are curious, care deeply about friends and significant adults, and love to listen to stories. As the discussions around them continue to center Israel, they can participate through read-aloud stories.
We have made the following titles from Apples & Honey Press available online to read with your kids - for FREE.
Avi the Ambulance Goes to School and Avi the Ambulance to the Rescue. Created in conjunction with the American Friends of Magen David Adom, who raise money for ambulances in Israel, these books show how Israelis are taking care of each other.
Fast Asleep in a Little Village in Israel, by Israeli author Tzivia Macleod.
As the crisis continues, household tension can rise. While we can’t stop what’s happening, we can provide reassurance to young children and help them feel more secure. We suggest Mommy Can You Stop the Rain, by child psychologist Rona Novick, PhD. There is a guide for using the book with children and teens of any age HERE.
In a particularly emotional moment recently, residents of an apartment complex in Holon, Israel, gathered on their balconies to sing Hatikvah. A video was posted, and you may wish to pair a viewing of that with the reading of Erica Lyons' book Alone Together On Dan Street, a story for 4-7 year-olds of another apartment community coming together to sing the Four Questions from their balconies for Passover during the pandemic. The comfort of community in times of trouble is a key theme of this sweet book.
Children may also wish simply do a colorful and calming activity that might also spur them to share what's on their minds. Author and Illustrator Ann D. Koffsky has created Israel themed coloring pages. An additional page is available here.
For school-aged children
We are offering primarily written materials. At a time when the internet is soaked with images of tension and violence, time away from screens may be just the respite kids need, even as they want to know more about what is happening and why. If you do not already have these materials in your school, we are offering excerpts of the titles below as free downloadable instant lessons. (some links still to come)
The lessons below offer context on two issues that have become hot topics: the history of the connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, and conflicts over the security of the State of Israel in modern times.
Welcome to Israel (grades 3-4)
- From Chapter 1: Welcome to Our Homeland (for students) (for teachers)
- From Chapter 8: Peace and Security (for students) (for teachers)
- From Chapter 2: Biblical Times-Becoming Am Yisrael (for students) (for teachers)
- From Chapter 3: Jewish Life With or Without a Temple (for students) (for teachers)
- From Chapter 7: On the World's Stage (for students)
Experience Modern Israel (grades 5-6)
- From Chapter 5: Layers of History, War and Peace (for students) (for teachers)
- From Chapter 6: Security and Conflict In the Headlines (for students) (for teachers)
- From V1, Chapter 1: The Early Israelites (for students)
- From V1, Chapter 2: The Age of Hellenism (for students)
- From V1, Chapter 3: Roman Domination of Judea (for students)
- From V2, Chapter 3: Jewish Nationalism and Zionism-Imagining a Modern Jewish State (for students) (for teachers)
- From V2, Chapter 6: The British Mandate (for students) (for teachers)
- From V2, Chapter 9: The Birth of the Modern State of Israel (for students) (for teachers)
Middle and High School (or Adult)
- From Chapter 1: What is Israel? (for students) (for teachers)
- From Chapter 5: It Was Built with Hope (for students) (for teachers)
- From Chapter 6: It's a Place of Conflict in Search of Peace (for students) (for teachers)
Israel Matters (grades 8-adult)
- From Chapter 2: Jewish Land, Jewish Nation
- From Chapter 5: Carving Out a Homeland
- From Chapter 12: Testing "Land for Peace"
For a deeper history dive, especially for adults wishing to get up to speed quickly, try Jewish History: The Big Picture. A leaders' guide is also available as a free download.
- Israel It's Complicated Teacher Resource Guide, with Foreword by Center for Israel Education
- Teaching Jewish History, by Julia Phillips Berger and Sue Parker Gerson
- 2000 BCE to 1948 mini timeline (grades 3-4), from Welcome to Israel
- Fill in a timeline, ancient to today (grades 3-4), from Welcome to Israel
- 1700 BCE to 2018 timeline of Israel's history (grades 6-7), from Israel...It's Complicated Teacher Resource Guide
- 1948 to 2018 visual timeline of conflict and peace (grades 6-7), with additional room to write in current and future events, from Israel...It's Complicated, student edition
- Center for Israel Education's Master Online Timeline (grades 6-7)
- Israelite Tribes and their Neighbors, from The History of the Jewish People
- Land of Israel Under Changing Empires, 1700-445 BCE, from Building Jewish Identity 4: Jewish History and Heritage
- The Revolt Against the Romans, 66CE-74CE, from The History of the Jewish People
- The Partition Plan Map (1947), from Israel...It's Complicated Teacher Resource Guide
- Israel's Shifting Borders-before and after the Six Day War, from The History of the Jewish People, vol. 2
- Major Places in Israel, from Israel It's Complicated Teacher Resource Guide