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Resources for Teaching Rabbinic Texts to Middle Schoolers

  • “What's a Mishnah” pub. Torah Aura
    Submitted by Jeremy Schwartz
  • Mishnah and Talmud volumes by Jacob Neusner, pub. Behrman House
    Jeffrey Schein says, “The material is decent enough but requires a talented teacher to bring alive.”
  • Talmud Law and Commentary, Midrash Rabbinic Lore, Mishnah the Oral Law, Ethical Literature and other books by Harry Gersh, pub. Behrman House
    Jackie Land says, “excellent Rabbinic texts that are Primary Sources”
  • Basic Judaism for Young People: Torah pub. Behrman House
    Jackie Land says, “defines all the different sources”
  • The Jewish Law Review Vol 1, The Mishnah on Damages and The Jewish Law Review Vol II, The Mishnah's Laws of Lost and Found pub. Torah Aura
    Shai Gluskin says, “Students are presented with a case to solve. After working out their own verdicts, they study a selection from the Mishnah and apply the ethical principles extracted from the Mishnah to new and more complex cases.”)
  • Sefer ha-Agadah ed. Bialik and Ravnizki
    Benjy Ben-Baruch says, “A wonderful source for texts. Topically arranged. It is easy to find appropriate texts for various purposes.”
  • The New Haggadah ed. by Mordecai Kaplan, et al.
    Benjy Ben-Baruch says, “Very useful source of midrashic texts translated into English (with Hebrew legibly printed with niqud) pertaining primarily to the Exodus narrative”
  • G-d's Garden by Adam Fisher, pub Behrman House
    Lori Rubin says, “It has an excerpt from each parasha and a story to go with it. The stories lead to great discussion. I have used the book with 3rd-7th graders.”
  • Our Sacred Texts: Discovering Jewish Classics pub. UAHC Press
    Ann Greenstein)
  • To Do Is to Learn by Sharon Halper, pub. UAHC
    Ann Greenstein says, “A book on Tikkun Olam, but each chapter has a Torah quotation, a related Talmud quotation and an easy pertinent Hebrew lesson”
  • You Be the Judge by Grishaver (Ann Greenstein says, “A collection of ethical cases and Jewish answers put out by Torah Aura. It presents a contemporary case, and then asks what would you do. It then quotes what the Torah and Talmud have to say in very understandable terms.”)

Benjy Ben-Baruch also wrote: “I also think we do our students a grave injustice when we limit our search for rabbinic texts to the period before 800 CE or so. We say that we believe that Judaism evolves and is continuing to evolve, yet we rarely expose our children to any text less than 1200 years old and almost no texts by women. Until we start doing that, we are -- in my opinion -- misteaching our children.”

Jeremy Schwartz responded: “I completely agree. My request for classic materials was only to address a need for a specific class in a transitional period in our school's curriculum. My goal is that our curriculum will eventually have the students studying text from the span of Jewish history. I've been collecting on and off to create a year's curriculum focused on modern (Chassidic and not) Jewish story. Part of the difficulty that faces both the text and other aspects of the curriculum, is that many of us have to try to stuff so much in before the kids get to their teenage intellectual development. So a lot of the important genres, especially in later periods of Jewish history - such as medieval philosophy, or the racy and difficult medieval poetry, or kabbalah, - aren't particularly appropriate for most of our religious school students.”

Thanks to all the contributors: Benjy Ben-Baruch (Congregation T'chiyah, Detroit, MI), Rabbi Shai Gluskin (JRF Director of Education), Ann Greenstein (Former Educator, Temple Beth El, Newark, DE), Jackie Land (JRF Chesapeake Regional Director), Lori Rubin (Educational/Youth Director, Or Hadash, Fort Washington, PA), Rabbi Jeffrey Schein (JRF), and Rabbi Jeremy Schwartz (Rabbi/Education Director, Temple Bnai Israel, Willimantic, CT).

Topics: Education
Type: Bibliography

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