On Chanukah we celebrate the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks, who tried to force the Jews to refrain from keeping Jewish practices and leave their religion. In the lesson, we will learn about the decrees of Antiochus and the Jewish opposition to them, and we will consider what principles are sacred to us and how they can be maintained in the face of external pressure.  A values clarifications exercise, discussion questions, and creative learning activities are featured in this resource.

The learner will:

  1. develop a deeper understanding of the various factors that shape one’s values and beliefs and the impact that these beliefs have on one’s behavior and sense of self. These understandings will be explored through the lens of the chanukah story.

  2. know the description from the book of Maccabees of the laws forbidding the Jews freedom of religion and the Chashmonaim’s response.

  3. be able to articulate verbally or in writing, the learner’s thoughts and opinions about these concepts; as it relates to the Chanukah story, and to the learner’s life as well.

When you click on the Jewish Education by Design resource link featured above, you will find the following educational building blocks for the creation of a lesson plan:

  1. Essential questions that get to the “heart” of the learning

  2. A hook/s to open the lesson in an engaging fashion and spark the learners’ curiosity

  3. In depth discussion questions that are designed to elicit conceptual thinking and personal reflections about the featured source/s

  4. Suggested activities that enable the students to both process and apply what was learned in a thought provoking and creative fashion

  5. A further study option/s to related materials on the JEBD site or to external links

Supplement to the lesson plan:

The lesson from the JEBD uses Chanukah to get students thinking about their core values, while this video, How to Achieve Greatness: A Chanukah Lesson,  invites students to touch upon greatness by standing up for their values.  This video can be used after studying the source and discussing it. It is best placed before the second activity in the Suggested Activities section, which  directs students to write about a time they did or did not stand up for their principles. 

Before the activity, play the video and ask the students to answer the following questions.

  • What is the path to greatness? 

  • What does greatness have to do with Chanukah?

  • Why is the Menorah G-d’s last miracle before the Jewish people enter into exile? 

  • What is your personal path to greatness?

Computer, projector, student handout

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