Teaching Jeremiah in the framework of history: A Hebrew curriculum
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As early as the forties, Jewish educators recognized the importance of teaching Jeremiah in a chronological, historical method. They believed that only by learning the past would students be able to extract from the words of the prophet ethical teachings for our lives today, thereby engaging the interest of the student. This project essentially targets teachers in the American Orthodox Day School, where the language of instruction is Hebrew. In these schools, the study of Tanach is assigned a major role in the curriculum. The guide is focused on chapters from the periods of Kings Josiah, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah, and on the fate of Judea in the time of Gedaliah the son of Ahikam. It is the goal of this work to combine the historical components with the actual prophecies of Jeremiah, as a means of better comprehending both. The order of the lessons illuminates the events of the period in a political and religious framework, with an emphasis on the specific facts that compelled the prophet to speak. The words of the prophet are placed in a context of facts and events and thus present the student with a living landscape of ideas. The proposed curriculum is based on the Heuristic Method--Shitat-ha-HitpatHut. The teacher will ask questions and encourage the students to reply using their own abilities and their prior knowledge. The student is expected to call on his experience, memory and assorted reasoning techniques to investigate, discover and develop ideas independently. This method proposes to depart from lessons based only upon the translation of the verses.;In order to concretize the text and to bring the past to life, maps and charts are incorporated into the work. Suggestions for independent study, projects and group activities are provided. Through this method, the student is able to visualize the place, the time and the people living at the time. The distant past becomes real.;Use of this methodology for over twenty years has served to enhance the enjoyment, understanding and appreciation of the Prophets by the students.