Welcoming Guests
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Welcoming Guests

Tags: Abraham 

Jewish Value:

     Welcome Guests

Lesson Summary:

Abraham and Sarah, Welcome Guests,   Build Community

Enduring Understandings:

  • Hachnasat orchim is the Jewish value of welcoming visitors.
  • Abraham and Sarah, the first Jewish people, practiced this value in their home. 
  • Greeting, sharing, and helping new friends who visit our community, class or home are ways to welcome them.

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


Set Induction:
Welcome each child into your learning space that is used during this lesson, using Hebrew phrases of greeting. These phrases might include:
Boker Tov- Good Morning
Bruchim Haba’im- Blessed are the people who come (alternatively, Baruch haba’a, singular, male or B’rucha haba’a singular, female) 

After the children have congregated, discuss with them the process of greeting others.
Discussion questions might include:

  • How does it feel when someone greets you?
  • Did anyone notice what my face was doing while I was greeting the children ?(Be conscious of a smiling, inviting facial expression during the exercise.)
  • When do you hear people greet one another in our community? In your home? Any other places?
Address children: Let’s practice!
Have students take turns leaving the classroom and re-entering while some students are designated greeters. Encourage the liberal use of Hebrew vocabulary, as appropriate, and smiling, friendly facial and body language.

Address children:
Today, we are learning about the Jewish value Hachnasat Orchim, which means that we welcome new friends. Sometimes, we can call a new friend a visitor or guest. There is a special, famous story in the Torah about how the very first Jewish people, Abraham and Sarah, welcomed guests so we are going to watch a video to learn about that story. While we watch, try to remember the different ways that Abraham and Sarah welcomed their visitors.

Have children view Shalom Sesame: Abraham and the Three Visitors 
Ask and document the answer to the questions:
  • What different ways did you see Abraham or Sarah practice Hachnasat orchim, welcoming new friends or visitors? (Abraham welcomed them by saying “Shalom,” showed them where to sit and be comfortable, offered them water and washed their feet, brought them plenty of his own favorite drinks and foods, introduced them to his family (wife, Sarah), thanked them for coming, etc…” 
  • In what ways are you able to welcome a new friend or visitor into your home or our school community? 
From the suggestions that the children generate, create and post the guidelines for treating new friends, guests or visitors in your classroom.

Summarizing Activity:
Involve students in decorating a doormat, which will be the first thing that people see as they enter the classroom. B’ruchim Habaim literally means “Blessed are those who come” but is typically translated as “Welcome” 

Ask students to work together to decide what messages or images people should see when they enter their classroom. You could have students decorate the welcome mat with their handprints or pictures. Premade doormats can be painted or stenciled, or permanent markers can also be used to customize messages.


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

Music Connectionsmore


Listen to a recording and/or show students the song “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and The Beast, again asking them to identify ways that new friends (Belle, in this case) are welcomed.

Evidence of Learningmore

Students will actively engage themselves the welcoming activity used as a set induction.
Students will be able to recognize the welcoming behavior displayed by the characters in Beauty and Beast as examples of hachnasat orchim.


Send a note home to parents that explains the value (consider sending them to Welcome New Friends Resource Page for more information). Suggest that they discuss with their children appropriate steps to hosting guests as well as setting the expectations for a child when they open the door, answer the phone, etc- any opportunity that a child might have to practice this value.

literature connectionsmore

TitleAuthorIllustratorBook Summary
The Circus Ship Chris Van DusenChris Van DusenIn this fictionalized account of an historical event, told through rhyming text, a circus ship runs aground off the coast of Maine. After swimming through the freezing waters, the animals finally make it safely onto a small island. Waking up to find circus animals walking, bathing, and “hanging” around, the townspeople are not happy, but they ultimately grow fond of their new neighbors. Together, they work to outwit the greedy circus owner when he returns to claim the animals, illustrating the strong bonds of community.
May I Bring a Friend? Beatrice Schenk de RegniersBeni MontresorOne day, a small boy receives a very special invitation—the King and the Queen have invited him to the castle for tea. He accepts, with one question:
"May I bring a friend?"
"Any friend of our friend is welcome here," says the King. But their guest's friend turns out to be someone they never expected!
Sammy Spider’s New Friend* Sylvia A. RoussKatherine Janus KahnWhen an Israeli family moves in next door to the Shapiros, Sammy Spider and Josh learn about the Jewish mitzvah of welcoming guests. In the process, they each make a new friend and learn some Hebrew words.
Sarah Laughs Jacqueline JulesNatascia UglianoThis biblical story tells of the elderly Sarah who laughs in delight when she overhears three strangers tell her husband Abraham that he will soon become a father. When a son is born to her the following year she names him Isaac, which means laughter, and the world rejoices with her.
* PJ library Books
Lesson Contributors

PJ Schwartz and Emily Teck