Jewish Responsibility, Human Responsibility
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Jewish Responsibility, Human Responsibility

Lesson Summary:

A Jewish immigrant activist and a lifelong advocate for the rights of workers and of women, Rose Schneiderman shaped the American labor movement. Known as a powerful orator, Schneiderman used her speeches—such as the one she delivered in April, 1911 to protest the tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire—to galvanize leaders and ordinary citizens to action on behalf of workers, immigrants, and other disadvantaged members of society. This Go & Learn guide from the Jewish Women s Archive uses Schneiderman s speech and life example to explore our communal and individual responsibilities for the well being of others in our midst.

Enduring Understandings:

  1. We have a Jewish and a human responsibility (as individuals and as a community) to protect the rights of others. 
  2. Consumers/customers can help better the lives of workers who create, build, etc. 
  3. We all have the opportunity to make a difference, no matter our age, gender, economic status, or level of education.

Essential Questions:

  1. What is meant by the phrase "a light to the nations" (Or LaGoyim)? 
  2. How should workers and employers balance their needs to make a living with the needs of running an efficient business? 
  3. Do Jews have a special communal responsibility to help oppressed people or make the world better? Why or why not? 
  4. How can consumers (people who buy products or benefit from services) make change?

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


(accessible via link below, in "procedure" section)

  • Copies of Rose Schneiderman s speech 
  • copies of Isaiah excerpt
  • copies of Yossi Abramowitz s article (optional)
  • computer/tablet/etc for research
  • white board or butcher paper


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

Music Connectionsmore

Evidence of Learningmore

  • Students will know about the experiences of Jewish workers at the turn of the century.
  • Students will be able to explain the Jewish textual tradition for "Tikkun Olam" or communal responsibility.
  • Students will be able to apply the traditional Jewish concepts of social justice, Tikkun Olam, and Or LaGoyim to their own lives as well as to events in modern history.


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