by Prozdor Faculty Member Jessica Kirzane
Together with 25 Jewish educators from across the country, this July I participated in the Jewish Women’s Archive’s Institute for Jewish Educators, an intensive four day program that provides practical training in how to teach students to engage with the stories of American Jewish women in history classes and programs. We formed a community of educators dedicated to presenting this material in our home communities and schools, and we learned creative ways to work with primary source documents and oral histories in our classrooms and other settings.
This was a terrific opportunity for me to learn from the experiences of other educators and to develop new skills and strategies and learn about new resources that I can’t wait to bring into my classroom at Prozdor. I look forward to sharing what I have learned with the Prozdor community in my courses this year and I encourage you to shoot me an e-mail if you want to hear more about my experiences or about the Jewish Women’s Archive.
Most impressive to me were the Living the Legacy curricula that JWA provides for free as a resource to teachers wanting to teach about Jews in the Civil Rights and Labor movements. The lessons about these movements are incredibly rich in primary source material and provide a complex and honest view of the history, with plenty of opportunities for students to reflect on their own relationships to the material and to find connections to the past in their own lives. The lessons also represent the contributions of men and women together, focusing not on the few most visible participants in these social movements, but on the grassroots nature of the movements, which included so many Jewish men and women.
I can’t wait to share the Living the Legacy Civil Rights curriculum in my elective this fall! I am so thrilled that Prozdor offers me the flexibility to teach the courses I feel most passionately about, and I hope my students will be inspired, as I am, by the activists in American Jewish history, whose vision and strength brought us to where we are today, and who serve as models for Jewish women and men who continue to strive to create a more just society.