History-Divrei Yemei Yisrael

Jewish history is much more than just a review of names, dates, places and events. It is a study of how we as people developed, and the sage of our chain of tradition which stretches back to Mt. Sinai. We cannot simply review historical data, but must help children understand stories of Jewish triumph over adversity of every form. Books alone can hardly convey the intensity with which a teacher must impart and inspire. While there is precious little time to properly treat three and a half millennia of Jewish history in a formal way, a teacher must weave history and the “hashkafa” perspective of the Jewish experience into all subjects in order to be able to do a credible job.

It is generally accepted that history taught in the elementary years weighs heavily in favor of ancient history; that of the biblical period, the second Bet Hamikdash and the Mishaic and Talmudic periods (1000 BCE to 500 CE). Proper treatment of the medieval and subsequent periods are generally left to the high schools.

Students should be able to recall the chronological order of the Jewish periods within Jewish history. They should be able to identify historical figures with which the events are associated.

More importantly, however, is the development of the realization that Jewish historical figures cannot be equated with those of their secular counterparts when we include Biblical and Sages of the subsequent periods. Their “hashkafa” of Jewish history should begin to show sensitivity for the sacredness of the Jewish people.