How Do We Remember We Are Free?
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How Do We Remember We Are Free?

grades:  High School (9-12) 

Lesson Summary:

On Passover, we are reminded that it is our obligation to tell the story of our enslavement and the Exodus from Egypt as if we were there. We must relate to the story as if we ourselves had lived it, and we must teach our children about it so they, too, can experience the gratitude—and sense of responsibility—that comes from being a free people. In this session, we challenge both children and parents to consider how we “remember” our experience of freedom.

Enduring Understandings:

1. Though American Jews are not slaves, freedom is an important part of American Jewish legacy.
2. Remembering biblical slavery and celebrating Jewish liberation from it connects Jews with other oppressed communities and inspires action.
3. Holidays and traditions provide us with concrete ways to act on our beliefs and values.
4. Re-telling our history helps us draw parallels to today, for ourselves and our neighbors.

Essential Questions:

1. What purpose do holidays serve?
2. What do we mean when we say "We are free"? How do we understand slavery and liberation when we are free from most severe forms of oppression?
3. How do stories and holidays reinforce values or important elements of our religion?
4. How can we add to ancient stories to make them more relevant in todays world?

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)

  • A copy of the story "The Reminder" from "Who Knows Ten? Children s Tales of the Ten Commandments" by Molly Cone 
  • a seder plate with items (or a picture of it) OR the lyrics to "Avadim Hayinu" 
  • white/chalkboard or butcher paper and chalk/markers


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

Music Connectionsmore

Evidence of Learningmore

• Participants will know the importance of freedom in both Jewish and American culture.
• Participants will be able to explain why holidays are important for communities.
• Participants will be able to explain the meaning of various symbols and metaphors mentioned in the texts.
• Participants will be able to apply their knowledge of symbolism and metaphor in Passover celebrations to the creation of a July 4th "seder."


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 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