Uncovering the Personal Behind the Historical


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

There are many sources for learning about the history of Israel but no book, document or film can have as meaningful and powerful an impact as exploring the personal stories of those who were “there”; those who lived and experienced the actual events make up the great drama of the birth of the Jewish State.  What is it about a story that can bring a moment in time to life?  What emotions can a photograph of a stranger evoke?  In this lesson, learners will discover Israel and its history through the lives of everyday people and the photographs that tell their stories.  Through examination of photographic source material, a writing activity that invites students to conduct an imaginary discussion with someone in each of the photos, and the creation of a whatsapp conversation between two individuals in one of the photos, the human stories “behind the scenes” are brought to life.

The learner will:

  1. understand how a personal story or photograph can transform history into memory
  2. know some of the different stories people experienced as part of the history of modern day Israel

be able to creatively depict a story that conveys the experiences of an individual in a photograph

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:
    Uncovering the Personal Behind the Historical

Student handouts, computer, projector

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