The Be’eri program is proud to present a new edition of Spheres of Identity, a textbook for grade 10 students studying Jewish thought at the matriculation level. Spheres of Identity generates a deep discussion about Jewish-Israeli identity among the more than 10,000 grade 10 students from across the country that matriculate in Jewish Thought every year.
"Spheres of Identity
is based on a series of lectures delivered by Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, president of the Shalom Hartman Institute, to Tarbut Yisrael
(Jewish heritage studies) teachers more than a decade ago," explains Amit Alon, Be’eri’s director of education for central Israel and author of the new edition. "Donniel Hartman laid the foundations for developing Jewish-Israeli identity through six spheres of identity – family, values and lifestyle, memory, mutual responsibility, place, and uniqueness." At the request of the Ministry of Education, these lectures were consolidated into a book and a curriculum for the use of students in secular public schools. The new edition, developed with the support of the Keren Daniel and the Russell Berrie Foundation, approaches identity and belonging with a new chapter that focuses on a discussion of universalism and particularism.
The six spheres deal with essential and complex issues within the subject of Tarbut Yisrael, presenting a Jewish mosaic from which students can choose the components with which they identity personally:
Family: the role of parents, conversion, tradition, and innovation
Values and Lifestyle: Jewish denominations, circumcision, Shabbat
Memory: Passover, Holocaust and trips to Poland, Tel Hai, foreign workers
Mutual Responsibility: The four sons, community, social justice
Place: Land of Israel, State of Israel, homeland, Israel-Palestinian conflict
Language and Symbols: language, mezuza, symbols, names
The textbook is based on traditional and contemporary sources and includes passages from Rabbi Prof. David Hartman, Shulamit Aloni, Yehuda Amichai, H.N. Bialik, Leah Goldberg, Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Maimonides, Amos Oz, the Hatam Sofer, Rav Soloveitchik, Baruch Spinoza, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and others who have contributed to the rich Jewish culture.
From the Introduction to the Textbook
Sometimes it seems as though that we are not the ones who chose our own identity: We didn’t choose our parents, we didn’t choose our nationality, we didn’t choose where to be born. Our identities are made up of many components that we don’t choose, but it is in our hands to choose what meaning to give them.
In order to help us think about these issues, we present students with six spheres, each of which represents a different aspect of belonging to the Jewish people. Recognition of the spheres and the tensions between them is done through exploration of traditional and contemporary Jewish sources. This educational journey enables students to develop a personal answer to the question: What is the meaning of belonging to the Jewish people?