Exploring Our Connections to Jewish Life
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Exploring Our Connections to Jewish Life

grades:  High School (9-12) 

Lesson Summary:

In this session, participants will consider when and where we feel most connected to Judaism, asking:
With which environments, traditions, and texts do we connect?
Are there environments, traditions, or texts that we feel less comfortable with?
We will look at Helène Aylon’s artwork and discuss what it reflects about her feelings of connection with or estrangement from Judaism. Using Aylon’s technique of tracing over traditional text, we’ll create our own pieces of art to convey our unique experiences of connection with Jewish text and tradition, and share these within family/congregational groups.

Enduring Understandings:

1. People have different ways of connecting to Judaism.
2. Some people feel alienated by or isolated from Jewish practices that are meaningful to others in their communities.
3. Art and ritual can help us create meaning and positive connection to our religious and spiritual practices.

Essential Questions:

1. How does Judaism make people feel connected at some times while making them feel isolated at others?
2. What makes me feel most connected to Judaism? When do I feel least connected?
3. How can art and ritual help us navigate our complicated feelings about Judaism?
4. How do we respect and embrace different beliefs when they seem to conflict with or contradict each other?

Be Inspired:The ideas included are offered as starting points as you and your students explore, discover and live the lessons. Be sure to elicit and encourage student and parent participation, consistently reinforcing the value being addressed. Allow lessons to authentically develop and change based on engagement and interests.

Lesson Plan Components

For the educatorJewish Thought, Text, and Traditionsmore

Jewish every dayIncorporate Jewish Valuesmore

Materials and resourcesmore


(documents available via link below in "procedure" section)

  • Helène Aylon’s “Self Portrait” image (projected or printed)
  • information about the artist or excerpts from her artist statement
  • white art paper (preferably 12x18 construction or drawing paper)
  • enlarged copies of blessings (full list included in lesson)
  • art making materials (including markers, crayons, glue, colored paper, tissue paper, scissors, etc.)
  • black pencils or pens


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

Music Connectionsmore

Evidence of Learningmore

•Participants will be able to articulate their own understanding of what it means to "wrestle with God" and give examples of it from their lives.
• Participants will be able to explain how Helen Aylon s art represented her feelings/experience with Judaism.
• Participants will know and be able to explain what makes them feel most and least connected to Judaism.


Lesson Contributors

The Jewish Women’s Archive is a national public history organization dedicated to telling the stories of Jewish women and inspiring change and inclusivity in communities everywhere. The collections and encyclopedia on jwa.org invite learners of all ages to connect with role models from history and today. Nearly 100 lesson plans for kids, families, and adults help Jewish educators weave stories about identity and activism into programs about Jewish values, holidays, and ritual. And, JWA’s professional development programs and trainings encourage educators to connect with one another to create new ways of engaging the communities they serve. As we say at JWA, “You cannot be what you cannot see,” so check us out anytime, anywhere, at jwa.org.



Prayers and Blessingsmore