Discovering the Maccabees – The Heroes of Chanukah


This is a lesson plan provided by the National Library of Israel.

How were the Maccabees remembered by Jews in the diaspora throughout the centuries? How did the early Zionists identify with the Maccabees? Relying on written text alone to inform one’s imagination is limiting. The images in this resource help learners better understand who the Maccabees were and how they might have inspired the early Zionists and founders of the State of Israel. After interacting with the primary sources, learners will reflect upon and articulate which of the Maccabees’s traits they would like to emulate.

The learner will:


  1. understand a variety of reasons as to why the Maccabees have been sources of inspirations for Jews across the centuries.
  2. know the attributes that made the Maccabees role models for the early Zionists and the founders of the State of Israel.
  3. be able to create an artistic representation depicting the Maccabees and the specific characteristic/s that inspire the learne.
About the National Library and its educational materials:

The mission of the National Library of Israel is to provide a home for items of national, historic or cultural significance. Each of these primary sources serve as unique entry points into the collective memory of the people of Israel as well as the Jewish people worldwide.

The education department at the library curates the collection of primary sources and uses them as windows into the past; to foster a deeper understanding of Jewish history, and to enable learners to personalize and connect to earlier events.


When you click on the National Library of Israel resource link featured above, you will find the following educational building blocks for the creation of a lesson plan:


  1. A group activity to open the lesson and engage the learners.
  2. Discussion ideas and/or questions that are designed to get the learners thinking more deeply about the content.
  3. A creative activity that gives students the opportunity to go beyond learning and analyzing, to crafting something new, that personalizes how they relate to the  primary sources featured in the resource.
  4. The primary sources in this resource have individual links (listed in Expand your horizons below) that provide expanded information. In addition there are nuanced discussion questions that will enable students in small groups to engage independently and effectively in the process of  observing, interpreting, and connecting to the primary sources.

    Link to the lesson plan:
    Discovering the Maccabees – The Heroes of Chanukah


Computer, Student Handout

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