Monday, November 22, 2010


I can remember as a young teacher that the story of Joseph was the most fun to teach - there were so many projects one could choose, there was so much detail in the text that kids could enjoy reading, and the issue of sibling rivalry was always a topic students were able to speak about with authority.
Assuming younger students have spent their time learning the narrative - who said what to whom and where, who dreamt what and what it meant, who sold Joseph to whom and why, and on and on and on, perhaps it is time to think about Big Ideas instead of storytelling.


  • Living as a minority within a majority culture is a challenge - especially when the values of the majority are different than those of the minority
  • How was living in Egypt different from living with his family in Canaan?
  • What were some challenges Joseph faced in this story so far?
  • This article by Rabbi Harold Berman suggests a connection between the story of Joseph while he was in the household of Potiphar the Egyptian and the story of Hanukkah.  How does he believe they are similar?
  • Amy Virshup in the NY Times writes about online preparation for Bar Mitzvah.  What does it say about the tension between traditional Jewish practice and the modern culture in which we live?
  • Bruce Feiler, the author of Walking the Bible and a number of other books based on examining Jewish history and theology, wrote an article entitled Time-Shifting Holidays that examines his efforts to meld tradition with the constraints of the modern world.  What is your reaction to his solution?  To the words of the Rabbi he quotes?
  • Students should be able to express their ideas about what it is like to live as a Jew in a world which often creates conflicts with what they ought to be doing as members of the Jewish people.
  • Students should understand that being Jewish involves being part of a community, and is not simply an individual identity.
  • Students should be able to articulate ways in which they can choose to be part of the Jewish community in their own lives.
As always, be sure to read the other posts which examine this parasha by clicking on the list to the right or by clicking here

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