Why Were the Israelites Chosen? Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Holiness


The Jewish people have been referred to as the “chosen people” for thousands of years.  What has it meant and what should it mean to us today?  In this lesson, students will study Biblical and Rabbinic texts that explore the term “am segula” (the chosen nation) and unpack its meaning through in depth questions and discussions of what it means to the learner to be a Jew. (See the background for teacher section for additional information.) A trigger video, an interactive four corners exercise, and a class debate are featured in this resource. An additional resource which can greatly enhance the learner’s understanding  is a youtube video featuring Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’s approach to this complex concept.

The learner will:

  1. Understand the implications of being a member of the chosen people

  2. Know the Torah source of the concept of chosenness as well as some of the rabbinic views of what it means to be a chosen people

  3. Be able to articulate and debate one’s personal definition of Jewish identity and chosenness.

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

Student handouts, computer, projector, paper and markers

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