2014 curriculum thumbHeroes and Villains, Saints and Fools: The People in The Book

Rabbi Steinsaltz’s Video Classes

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2014 – Full Curricula

יש להקליק להורדת תכנית הלימודים 2014 בשלמותה

Click to download the 2014 Full Curriculum – English

Haga clic para descargar el programa y material completo de 2014 – español

Click to download the 2014 Full Curriculum – на русском


2014 Curriculum Description

The 2014 theme was Heroes, Villains, Saints and Fools: The People in the Book. Each curricular unit explored a biblical character and use a variety of Jewish texts. Biblical characters provide an accessible entry point to Jewish texts for the beginners in your community and represent a deep well of wisdom for all. What do the heroes and villains of our stories have to teach us about ourselves, today? Focusing on biblical characters will allow you to explore topics like human nature, family dynamics, and leadership.

This year there were be 6 curricular units for adult learners, and one each for elementary school and middle schools students. The curriculum will available in English, Hebrew, Russian, and Spanish. Again, PJ Library joined us to offer a resource for family programming; this was based upon books that address an aspect of this year’s theme and are available in English.

The 2014 Global Day Curriculum units were:

2014 – Individual Curricular Units (English)

Click on the unit title to download that particular unit.

  1. Abraham: Journey Into the Unknown
    We meet Abraham as he embarks on a journey. The command “go forth” presents him with numerous challenges and opportunities. What does it mean to go forth? Why is the destination unknown? This session explores what Abraham’s journey reveals about his character and how it inspires us to stride boldly into the unknown.
  2. Balaam: To Bless or To Curse
    Balaam is known as a villain – a prophet hired to curse the Children of Israel in the desert. There is more to his story, however, and the complexity leads us to significant questions about power, ability and how we choose to act. In this session we explore Balaam’s motivations and prophetic ability to understand how one can use – or misuse – one’s talents.
  3. Deborah: Victory in the Hands of a Woman
    Deborah was a prophetess, judge and national leader during the first settlement of Canaan; her story illuminates the role of women in ancient Israel. This session explores power in both the public sphere of the battlefield and the private sphere of the tent, and how our understanding of Deborah’s role in society can inform how we view leadership today.
  4. Eve: Separation and Wholeness in the Garden of Eden
    Explore the creation of human beings through the story of Eve and how she came about through an act of splitting. This session will look at how the first people became independent, separate beings with conflicting desires, and the resulting quest for wholeness.
  5. Moses: The Birth of a Leader
    We all know Moses as the ultimate leader, but what about the story of Moses before he became the great figure of history? The circumstances of Moses’s birth, his childhood environment and his actions as a young man are all described in the Bible, too. What impact did these formative years have on his character? In this session we will discuss essential traits of leadership and what contributes to the development of a leader.
  6. The People of Sodom: The Making of an Evil Society
    When God confides in Abraham that He is going to destroy Sodom, He does not explain Sodom’s transgressions. What kind of society was Sodom? What were their values? Why should their behavior be avoided? This session asks why it is so important for Abraham and his descendants – us – to know about the People of Sodom, their philosophy and, ultimately, their downfall.

Children’s Curricula:

Middle School Curriculum
Esther and Moses: Not All Heroes Wear Capes

How do you know who is a hero? In this class, students will meet Esther and Moses to find out what makes a true hero.

Elementary School Curriculum
Abraham: The Trailblazer

Meet Abraham, Judaism’s first explorer. Students will work together to learn about Abraham and his adventurous spirit.

PJ Library Early Childhood Curriculum
Ometz Lev – Courage

The 2014 PJ Library family units focused on Ometz Lev – Courage. The family programming units are based on the books, Noah’s Bed and The Sabbath Lion.

Family Programming Webinar – Ometz Lev: Helping children cope with fear

In this webinar Vivian Newman, PJ Library’s Early Childhood Education Consultant, presents “courage” family programming based on the books, Noah’s Bed by Lis and Jim Coplestone, and The Sabbath Lion, a retelling of an Algerian Jewish folktale by Howard Schwartz and Barbara Rush.

The recording of the webinar is available here.

Regarding biblical characters, Rabbi Steinsaltz explains in Biblical Images:

The Bible is not a book to be idly read in passing, and the men and women of the Scriptures are more than mere life portraits: they continue to live and function long after their deaths in this world. The ancient Jewish custom of speaking of biblical characters in the present tense is an expression of a genuine experience. These are not ordinary historical figures but archetypes; as such, their lives are carried on and continue not only in literature and philosophy but in the lives of their descendants throughout the generations. In a sense, they continue to live and also to evolve throughout Jewish history, in its psychic experiences, and as a part of the collective personality of the Jewish nation.

They are biblical-historical characters and also archetypal figures in some way relevant to the inner life of the modern individual, and to modern society and politics as well. Not all these people were models characters, they include the good and the bad, those whose acts we perpetuate today and those who have served as a warning and a deterrent to repeating the mistakes of the past.

Centered on our theme, the 2014 Global Day Curriculum Guide offers topics, source materials and questions for conversation. Facilitators will want to adapt this material to suit the educational background and interests of their groups. Far from being frontal lectures, the Guide’s classes are meant to spark provocative and thought-provoking conversations. Each facilitator is free to construct discussions as s/he sees fit. In keeping with Rabbi Steinsaltz’s diverse works, we drawing from a variety of primary texts and other sources.


New: Melton Unit on Amalek

Amalek: Remembering the Arch-Enemy of the Jewish People
Developed by the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, under the guidance Rabbi Morey Schwartz, Director of Education.

The biblical instruction to remember does not demand of the Jewish nation to merely preserve information about a bitter historical moment. Preserving the memory of our arch-enemy Amalek places that incident at the beginning of a time trajectory that offers hope for a better tomorrow. This specially designed Melton text-based lesson focuses on the linear dimensions of the Jewish responsibility to remember the attack of Amalek against the Jewish nation just a short time after leaving Egypt, as well as considering the short term and long term relevance of this instruction in all generations.

Download the Faculty Guide

Download the Student Reader

New: Jerusalem U Exclusive Documentary Screenig

Through Great Chuptzah Comes Great Responsibility! Exclusive offer to show Jerusalem U‘s entertaining 35 minute film ‘Heroes in Action’ on Global Day of Jewish Learning, for FREE!  Jerusalem U is partnering with the Global Day to help your organization educate about Jewish heroes through an entertaining film; Hollywood style. On November 16thHeroes in Action: How Ordinary People Can Become Great Leaders will take you behind the scenes. You’ll be introduced to Hollywood stars, and to rabbis and teachers who shed light on the ancient wisdom and Jewish traditions that find expression in Hollywood.  This program is perfect for engaging your audience in meaningful discussions about core Jewish teachings, such as Jewish identity and how the choices we make are what creates great leaders. Click here to watch the promo for the film and learn how to download the film, marketing materials, and moderators’ guide. For questions, contact [email protected].

New: JBC Book Club Program on Biblical Images

The Jewish Book Council has partnered with the Global Day to develop guidelines for a book club program on Rabbi Steinsaltz’s Biblical Images. With the Global Day 2014 theme of Heroes and Villains, Saints and Fools: The People in the Book, this program offers you an additional approach for exploring biblical characters. Discussion questions are provided both for groups that are able to read the entire book before they convene and for groups that choose to read an excerpt as part of their Global Day gathering. (The chapter, “Sarah: The Partner”, is made available for this purpose.)

Download the program guide.

Access the chapter “Sarah: The Partner”.


Video Classes by Rabbi Steinsaltz

Why Study Biblical Characters?

Runtime: 15mins

Rabbi Steinsaltz discusses how to study biblical characters so that they become alive for us and how they are archetypes. Discussion questions include:

  • What is the first Biblical story you were taught?
  • Has the meaning of the story changed for you as you have gotten older?

Watch on YouTube with English Subtitles
צפה בסרטון וידאו באינטרנט עם כתוביות בעברית
Смотреть на YouTube с субтитрами на русском
Ver en YouTube con subtítulos en español

Click to download the video
יש להקליק להורדת וידאו המועדף עליך
нажмите, чтобы скачать прямо с сайта
Haga clic para descargar gratis el video

Discussion Questions:

Discussion Questions
ושאלות לדיון
вопросы для обсуждения
Preguntas para el debate

“Balaam: A Flawed Person Possessing Great Gifts”
Connecting with the Curriculum unit on Balaam

Runtime: 15mins

This video can be used to supplement the Balaam unit of this year’s curriculum, which explores Balaam’s motivations and prophetic ability to understand how one can use — or misuse — one’s talents. Throughout the unit we see that Balaam at times appears to have flawed character traits. The video class further explores how it is possible for a flawed person to possess great gifts.

Watch on YouTube With English Subtitles
Click to download the video

השיעור “בלעם: לברכה או לקללה” יבחן את מניעיו של בלעם ואת יכולותיו הנבואיות כדי להבין כיצד ניתן לנצל – לטובה או לרעה – כישרון אישי. במהלך היחידה נראה שלבלעם יש תכונות אופי פגומות. השיעור בוידאו של הרב שטינזלץ על בלעם בוחן את השאלה כיצד ניחן אדם בעייתי כמו בלעם בכישרונות מבורכים כל כך.

צפה בסרטון וידאו באינטרנט עם כתוביות בעברית
יש להקליק להורדת וידאו המועדף עליך

«Билам: благословить или проклясть» раскрывает мотивации Билама и пророческую возможность
понять, как может быть использован чей-либо талант- для добра или зла. При изучении этого материала зачастую представляется, что Билам обладат отрицательными чертами. Видеокласс рабби Штейнзальца, посвященный Биламу, показывает, как может оказаться возможным, что отрицательный персонаж оказывается наделен великим даром.

Смотреть на YouTube с субтитрами на русском
нажмите, чтобы скачать прямо с сайта

“Bilam: bendecir o maldecir” explora las motivaciones de Bilam y la capacidad profética de comprender cómo es posible aprovechar para bien – o para mal —nuestros talentos. A través de esta unidad vemos que Bilam parece a veces tener rasgos de carácter imperfectos. Esta clase de video del Rabino Steinsaltz sobre Bilam explora en profundidad cómo puede una persona defectuosa poseer grandes cualidades.

Ver en YouTube con subtítulos en español
Haga clic para descargar gratis el video


Coordinators’ Resources

Marketing Materials

Community Resource Guidebook (2014)

Questions? Email [email protected]


Bring world-class teachers to your Global Day event with LIVE learning

Enhance your Global Day this year with LIVE sessions like these:

  • G-dcast. They’ve made dozens of animated short films about Jewish stories. Torah, Talmud, folk stories and more.  Sarah Lefton, Executive Director and Producer will be joining 24×24 to lead the session “Drawing Meaning Out of Judges (Literally).”
  • With Girls in Trouble, poet and multi-instrumentalist Alicia Jo Rabins mines dark stories of Biblical women, exploring the hidden places where their complicated lives overlap with her own. The result is an album of fully orchestrated songs, both intimate and wide-ranging. Check out “We Are Androgynous” about Adam and Eve and “O General” about Deborah and Yael, as they are a great fit with this year’s curriculum. Alicia will perform and teach in her 24×24 session, “Miriam: The Complicated Life of a Biblical Woman.”

Current Schedule

Take a look at the complete list of great speakers.

Speaker Bios

Find out more about our speakers and their sessions.

Partner Organizations

See who’s joining us for this event!


See where events in 2014 took place

Read the 2014 report to see a full list of 2014 participating communities