A zsidóság a világ egyik legrégebben folyamatosan gyakorolt vallása, amely körülbelül 4000 évvel ezelőtt kezdődött. Ma a zsidóságot világszerte mintegy 15 millió ember gyakorolja. Ez az ősi vallás volt az első, amely monoteista (egy Istenben hitt), és a mai két legnagyobb vallás, a kereszténység és az iszlám gyökere. A zsidóságnak és a zsidó népnek hosszú és történetekkel teli története van, amelyet tragikusan jellemez az üldöztetés és a száműzetés, de az ellenálló képesség és az erő is.
A különböző világvallások tanítása létfontosságú eleme a világtörténelem, földrajz és kultúra tanulmányozásának. Sok pedagógus kerüli a vallások tanítását, mert fél attól, hogy akaratlanul megbántana valakit, félrevezetne egy vallást, vagy hogy elkerülje azt a látszatot, hogy a vallásos meggyőződések egy csoportját a másik fölé népszerűsíti, ami nem lenne megfelelő a világi oktatásban. Ha azonban tiszteletteljes, elfogulatlan és tudományos módon tanítják, a vallástanulás hatékony módja annak, hogy a diákok többet megtudjanak a világtörténelemről és az emberi kultúrát évezredeken keresztül befolyásoló hitrendszerekről.
A tanulók készítsenek életrajzi plakátot a zsidó történelem egyik fontos alakjának
(1)King Ahasuerus Banishes Queen VashtiThe story of the young Jewish woman, Esther, who saved her people from a genocidal plot is found in the Book of Esther in the Tanakh.The story begins in ancient Persia around 478 B.C.E. when King Ahasuerus was ruler of a vast Persian empire. However, as the story goes, King Ahasuerus was a vain and irresponsible king who gave lavish parties filled with drinking and eating while he left the running of his Kingdom to his advisors. One day King Ahasuerus grew so angry with his Queen Vashti for refusing to dance for him, that he banished her immediately! He was so bad tempered afterwards that his advisors began to look for a new queen. They searched throughout the kingdom.
(3)Haman's Evil PlanOne day Esther's cousin Mordecai overheard of a plot to kill the King. He told Esther of the assassination plot and she was able to warn the king just in time! The king was so grateful to Esther and Mordecai for saving his life. One of the kings advisors was the evil Haman. He was appointed to Prime Minister and because of this new role, he ordered all the people of Persia to bow down to him when he passed. When Haman passed Mordecai and ordered him to bow down in the street Mordecai refused saying, "I am a Jew and we do not bow down to humans, only to God." Haman flew into a rage and strategized a plot to murder not only Mordecai but to murder all the Jewish people living in the Persian Empire!
From the Book of Esther: The Young Jewish Woman Who Saved Her People
". . . and who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" - Esther, 4:14
(2) Esther Becomes Queen of Persia Esther was an orphan who was raised by her kind cousin Mordecai and his family. They lived in the city of Shushan near the palace. Although Esther and her family were Jewish, the Jewish people had been conquered by the Persian Empire and had been living amongst the Persians for many years ever since. While Esther and her family practiced their Jewish faith at home, they were assimilated and spoke and dressed like Persians. Esther was renowned for her beauty. As soon as the King saw her, he was smitten with her and chose her to be his queen. He did not know that she was Jewish.
(4)Esther Takes Action Haman easily convinced the distracted King Ahasuerus to go along with his plan. The King barely even acknowledged it simply saying, "do as you wish". Because of Haman's evil and King Ahasuerus' apathy, the Jewish people were horrifically sentenced to death. Esther and Mordecai heard of Haman's terrible plan and sprang into action. Mordecai protested outside the walls of the palace while Esther made a daring plan to visit the king. Esther feared the king would execute her for visiting him unannounced, which was his way. Luckily, he was pleased to see her. The King offered to give her whatever she wanted so Esther asked him to come to a banquet she had secretly prepared for the next day. After lavishly feasting, the King was so pleased he said he would grant her another wish. Esther cleverly asked for him to attend another banquet the following day.
(5) Queen Esther Saves the Jewish People of Persia!The King wanted to honor Mordecai for saving his life. He asked Haman to parade Mordecai through the streets in the finest clothes proclaiming Mordecai's greatness to the city. Haman was furious, as he considered Mordecai to be his lowly enemy. But Haman had to agree. Afterwards, to quell his humiliation and anger, Haman continued with his evil plan by erecting a large gallows outside the palace to hang Mordecai the next day. That was the day of Esther's second banquet. After dining, the King was so pleased with Esther that he told her he would grant her any wish. Esther wished that the King would kill anyone who meant her and her family harm. The King agreed that of course she and her people would be protected. When Esther revealed that Haman was planning her and Mordecai's execution and the death of all the Jews in Persia, the king was shocked! King Ahasuerus ordered for Haman to be executed instead on the same gallows he had built for Mordecai.Everyone rejoiced! The Jews were saved and Mordecai became Prime Minister. While the lazy King was still uninvolved, the kingdom thrived for many years under the leadership of Mordecai and Queen Esther.
The Jewish Celebration of Purim!The Jewish holiday of Purim celebrates the story of Esther. On a day when the Jewish people were supposed to be massacred, they were saved instead. Purim celebrates this contrast between utter despair and salvation; of good triumphing over evil. "In the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on its thirteenth day . . . on the day that the enemies of the Jews were expected to prevail over them, it was turned about: the Jews prevailed over their adversaries." - Esther 9:1. Purim is celebrated with parties, food, drink, parades, and fancy costumes including masks such as those worn at masquerade balls during the 13th century in Italy.