RESPONDING TO CRISIS
For almost a decade and a half, the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland responded to crises - natural disasters and human-made - by publishing “Immediate Response Curricula.” The documents, in most cases, were quickly put together in the course of one workday. By the time children arrived at midweek religious school, educators had immediate access to:
· the facts of the situation as they were known at the moment
· Jewish texts that touched on the situation, and
· easy-to-prepare in-class (or in-camp) age-appropriate learning activities that helped children better
understand the situation and to find avenues within Jewish tradition for response.
Many of these Immediate Response Curricula focused on truly horrific situations: a driveby shooting at a Los Angeles JCC early childhood center (1999), the killings at a high school in Columbine, CO (1999), the attack on the World Trade Center in NYC (2001), natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina (2005), and a number of bombings and wars in Israel (The Second Intifada in 2001, the second Lebanon war in 2006, the battle from Gaza in 2008). There was also a response curriculum developed on leadership, this in the face of President Bill Clinton’s potential impeachment in 1998. Since 2000, response curricula were also created to help teachers and students consider the United States elections from a Jewish perspective (2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012). Sometimes the curricula were both explanatory and celebratory, as in the case of the rescue of Quara Jews, who from a remote location of Ethiopia, were brought to Israel.
Over the years, other organizations and agencies added their own spin on response curricula, offering assistance to educators in the face of other “unthinkables” (the tsunami in Japan, the earthquake in Haiti, etc). And, over time, in light of the work of others and changing JECC staff, the agency stopped creating new Response Curricula for most in-the-news situations.
In the summer of 2012, the JECC asked one of its Hillel Interns to organize the old response curricula so that Jewish educators had access to the information on an as-needed basis. This incredible website is the result of that work.
Here you will find:
· A section on how to help children respond to tragedy; it had been created over the years through
conversations with professionals from different walks of life.
· Several sections offering avenues for response (through the Jewish tradition, through the spoken word,
through the arts, etc.)
· A collection of Jewish texts that may be accessed for different situations.
· A collection of resources that complement the curriculum guide.
The JECC would be pleased to receive feedback and/or ideas for additional postings. Send your thoughts and responses to:
Jewish Education Center of Cleveland
2030 S. Taylor Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44122
The JECC's Curriculum work is supported by The Fund for the Jewish Future of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland