Hope, Hate and Humanity—What is Your Role?

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Everybody plays a role in social justice and/or injustice. What role do you play in the cycle of hate and/or the cycle of hope? Are you a victim, are you a bully, are you someone who gets involved or someone who looks away? What can you do when you see injustice happening?

This lesson will focus on the October 27, 2018 event at the Tree Of Life synagogue where eleven people were murdered in Pittsburgh, the most deadly anti-Semitic attack in US history. Students will first be asked to frame initial learning targets with basic background information that we can’t assume everyone knows, “Do you know what a synagogue is and why it was targeted? Have you ever met anyone Jewish and do you know what it means to be Jewish? Why do you think the Tree of Life synagogue was targeted?” Students will then work collaboratively to create a “You Belong–Hate is Not Welcome Here” video using Clips (an iOS app for making and sharing videos with text, graphics, effects, etc.) that includes background and facts from the Tree of Life shooting and also, because they were alive during this historical event, their personal narrative. Students must also include the message of “LEARN—THINK—ACT POSTIVIELY in ALL situations.”

The lesson plan will evolve to have students answer and discuss the tough questions such as, “If I am not a target, what am I? Am I someone who protects those who are targeted or am I someone who takes pleasure in the suffering and pain of others?” Students will identify their role in the cycle of hate and/or the cycle of hope by first exploring the history and cause of antisemitism, hate and racism to later questioning themselves and exploring their options when they see social injustice.

Students will complete this lesson with an action plan. An “exchange program” will be created in the community where students and community members will have the opportunity to literally “open the doors to their homes” to someone from another culture, race or religious background in an effort to better understand and get to know each other. In short, the “exchange program” will be, “come to my home for Passover and I will come to your home for Easter (or Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanzaa OR Sweet 16 birthday/Mexican Quinceanera -15th birthday. This exchange program will be a step toward demystifying cultures to better understand how other cultures, races and religions celebrate holidays, religious events and life events!


Suggested Technology: Computer for Presenter, Projector, Laptops for Students, Cellular phones for students, Internet Connection.

Instructional Time: 3 hours.


  • Ateret Cope
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The following lesson plan was written as part of Classrooms Without Borders' Call for Lesson Plans about antisemitism and hate, in commemoration of the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

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