Girls In Trouble: Miriam In The Desert
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Girls In Trouble: Miriam In The Desert

grades:  Middle School (6-8) 

Lesson Summary:

Consider Miriam’s experience of exile and investigate the parallels between her story and moments of alienation and isolation in your own life.

This condensed version of the Girls in Trouble curriculum, a project by Alicia Jo Rabins, is based on Alicia’s indie-folk song cycle of the same name, and follows individual women through their stories in the Torah. In each lesson, students are encouraged to engage with both the Torah text and Alicia’s songs, to consider the story’s relevance to their own lives, and to generate their own creative interpretations. This curriculum brings Biblical women to life, demonstrating the power of these often under-studied stories, and highlighting the ways in which they can help us navigate our own complicated lives.

Enduring Understandings:

  • Difficult times are a universal part of the human experience, as are celebration and joy
  • Stories of exile and exclusion in the Torah can inform our own experiences with isolation and alienation
  • Creating art about women in Torah continues the millennia-old tradition of interpretation, while bringing female characters to the center of the process

Essential Questions:

  1. Why is Miriam s story important?
  2. How can the story of Miriam’s exile help us deal with moments of isolation and alienation in our own lives? 
  3. How does Alicia’s song contribute to our understanding of Miriam’s story?

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


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

Music Connectionsmore


Lesson Contributors

This lesson is brought to you through a collaborative effort between Alicia Jo Rabins and Jewish Women’s Archive, 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 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