Lesson on – Mutual Responsibility Middle School – High School


On October 7, 2023, fifty years after the Yom Kippur War, Israel was attacked in a barbaric way by Hamas. While the media constantly reports on the fatalities, the wounded, the missing, and the hostages, an unprecedented system of collective mutual aid has been put into place. The entire Jewish people have mobilized, despite the geographical distance, to come to the aid of their brethren in distress. Tens of thousands of people volunteered to evacuate and save the wounded, identify the victims, provide materials to the soldiers and food in hospitals, and enormous lines formed for blood donations, to name just some examples. What fundamental principle in Judaism underlies all these acts that fill us with amazement? For this purpose we will study the obligation incumbent upon every Jew to care for others and to ensure that one’s neighbor and to feel concerned about the suffering of others.
This study, accompanied by images, videos, and song, all convey a message of hope and collective strength, will make the Jewish spark shine in each and everyone, making the Jewish people “a light unto the nations.”

1. The student will understand the obligation for every Jew to be responsible for each other and the duty to express empathy and be responsible for every member of the Jewish people.
2. The student will understand the practical applications of this solidarity on a family, social, and community level.

The student will affirm her Jewish solidarity, both in the face of common threats and in the name of the Divine mission that unites Jews.

1. The student will develop the ability to interpret a message conveyed through an image, video, or song.
2. The student will learn basic research tools and conduct a study on historical events.
3. The student will organize support groups at the school and community leve.

After discussing the current situation in Israel, following the heinous terrorist attack by Hamas on October 7, 2023, we will pose the following questions: Should we feel concerned and responsible for what is happening in Israel right now? Do events affecting Jews elsewhere concern us? If so, why and to what extent? Is it an obligation or not? What does this mean for the Jewish people?

Step 1
Start by citing the example of a person who has cut their finger. Even if only one finger hurts, the WHOLE body suffers! Explain the concept of “Kol Israel arevim ze bazeh,” which means that “all Jews are responsible for one another.” We are all “in the same boat,” for better or worse. At times an entire group of people can be negatively impacted by the actions of a few. Look at pollution as an example. When some companies pour pollutants into the environment an entire population may suffer the consequences of
permanent changes to the environment. By extension, the expression “Kol Israel arevim ze bazeh” also symbolizes solidarity and caring for the well-being of others. That’s why, according to the Sefer Hassidim – a medieval ethical and moral work, in times of distress, everyone has a duty to grieve for the suffering of others and to pray on their behalf

Step 2
Expand the concept of solidarity, which is reciprocal (meaning the individual acts for the community, and the community acts for the individual). Ask students to describe its importance and solicit examples. Solidarity, a fundamental principle in our tradition, applies in social, economic, and religious domains. Mention, with input from the students, volunteer associations within the Jewish community that do not hesitate to come to the aid of other countries in times of tragic events (Hatzala, Zaka, etc.). Ask students if they belong to a volunteer organization. If so, which one? If not, which area interests them? (food, medicine, psychological assistance, etc.).

Step 3
Move on to Appendices 1 and 2. Appendix 1 requests that each student, individually, choose an image that corresponds to their idea of solidarity and explain their choice. Appendix 2 expresses, in the form of a mini-film, a message of mutual support and the strength that emanates from it. We now understand why the suffering of a part of the people is shared by the entire community. Thus, it will be noted that prayers are always written in the plural. Indeed, they do not limit themselves to the individual’s pain but include the needs of the entire community. Being affected by the same events leads to a sense of unity in action through charity, mutual aid, and brotherhood. The possibilities are countless. They may include helping the wounded, and the families of the victims, visiting the bereaved, attending the funerals of those with few acquaintances, sending food parcels, providing materials to soldiers, providing psychological assistance, and much more. The class should be invited to share personal experiences and report testimonies from survivors and stories they have heard about.

Step 4
To apply and organize everything that has been said about solidarity, use the “mind map” practice. Place 5 other ideas (or more, such as empathy, the duty of responsibility towards others, acting for others, taking a stand, the desire to influence. etc.) around the central subject. Each idea will be developed into concepts, adding details and tasks to be carried out. Ask students: How are you currently acting on behalf of the Jewish people? Inspired by the proposals on the mind map, encourage them to put all these wonderful ideas that will certainly bring about the redemption of the Jewish people into practice! Examples: greet your neighbor with a smile, inquire about their wellbeing with genuine interest, wish them “good luck” or other good wishes wholeheartedly, read a Psalm
(Psalms 91, 130, and 142 are particularly relevant). Create WhatsApp support groups, and offer other kinds of support. The teacher may want to note that people who give to others and offer to help without expecting anything in return are often happier!

Step 5
Play Naomi Shemer’s song – Lu Yehi. (See Appendix ). Provide a brief historical reminder that this song was composed by Naomi Shemer, during the Yom Kippur War in October 1973 and represents a symbol of hope. If students have internet access, ask them to do a quick search on the Yom Kippur War, which took place exactly 50 years before the attack on October 7, 2023. Otherwise, briefly explain the key points of this war. Ask students what are the common features of these two wars. Ask – Do you think this song is suitable for the current situation? What does it express?

Conclude the lesson by reviewing with students the idea of Kol Yisrael areivim zeh bazeh and discussing with them ways they can put into action as a class the values contained within this statement.


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