teach the next generation


Lesson of the Month

Need for a Jewish State – Rosh Hashana

The Soviet Union forbade any unique religious ritual from 1917 onward. By the time the state of Israel was declared in 1948, the USSR thought that no one would feel a connection to the Jewish State because their ability to practice Judaism had been suppressed for so long. But, when Golda Meir, the first Israeli envoy and minister to the USSR, arrived on Rosh Hashanah, something unexpected happened..

At the end of the lesson, students will be able to:
– explain the role of ritual in Jewish identity.
– identify the role of Israel to Jews around the world.
– identify rituals and holidays, such as Rosh Hashana, that contribute to the students’ personal identity.

To view the full lesson, click here.

Women-refuseniks and their children. Moscow, Ovrazhki, 1979, co RS. Photo source: http://kosharovsky.com

The Story Of the Refusenik Project

The Lookstein Center is continuously looking for educators, projects, and ideas to support, enhance, and disrupt the Jewish educational ecosystem. When we met Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov, a renowned Israeli filmmaker dedicating her life to sharing the story of her parents and the population of Soviet Jews, an obvious partnership was born.

The story of Soviet Jewry is one of Jewish solidarity, of bravery, and of the power of individuals to effect real change. The process of igniting Jewish identity in the USSR and of liberating the population was one of the most defining and unifying events of the last 50 years for the Jewish community, and yet there are so few organized resources for teaching this period.

While researching for her film Operation Wedding, Anat witnessed first hand that Jewish solidarity can change the course of history. She found rare archives, interviewed former key KGB members, and uncovered a web of lies, rewritten facts, and political secrets. She found that the collective memory of the plight of Soviet Jews is fading and that there is little documentation.

The Lookstein Center has created a collection of lesson plans and educational activities to complement these findings, and to teach the next generation that all Jews are responsible for one another and that every single individual can make a difference.

We also opened a public call for additional educational materials. We have been overwhelmed by the responses, not only by educators, but by Soviet Jews and children of Soviet Jews wishing to share their own stories. We have curated the submissions of artifacts, photographs, first-hand accounts, videos, and resources and are excited to share this free resource with the Jewish educational community.

Thank You

The creation of The Refusenik Project would not have been possible without the support, commitment, and passion of our generous donors and partners. Thank you.

Frank Brodsky  Gary Charlestein  Wendy Eisen Nativ  Glenn Richter  Adele and Joel Sandberg  Jewish LearningWorks  Morey Schapira  Peter Wexler   Sandra Spinner Barbara Stern  June and Ron Daniels   Sheri and Paul Robbins   Union of Councils for Jews in the former Soviet Union (UCSJ) Enid Wurtman

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