Presenting the Past: History Comes to Life at Ohr Chadash

The problematic lives of the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs, the derivation of the modern court system from the time of Moses, the expulsions and pogroms which resulted in migrations that made the Jewish people a global presence, the rise of Zionism, and of course, the Holocaust. These topics are just part of the history curriculum being discussed and dissected at Ohr Chadash.

Our first and second graders, Kochavim (Stars in English), have been studying the lives of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, and their roles as Prophets in the Torah, what was their special and unique  relationship with God which classified them as such, and their humanity, because of and despite this classification.  As the term progresses, Kochavim will learn of the birth of the ancient land of Israel and how the unified kingdom was won and subsequently divided and lost.

The Chalutzim (Pioneers), the children in the third and fourth grades, have been examining the development of the court system which was created in the time of Moses, by suggestion of his father-in-law, Yitro, to expedite legal conflicts which may have arisen during the trek in the Wilderness.Following this review, it was only natural to progress to the study of the Sanhedrin, the Great Assembly, led by the Zugot, the pairs of leaders, which guided the 71-member court which debated and resolved legal matters for centuries. The second half of the school year will transport the students forward, past the destruction of the First and Second Temples to the early dispersion of the Jewish people through medieval times.

The students of Giborim (Heroes), our fifth and sixth graders, began their studies in the fifteenth century, with the Spanish Inquisition, which resulted in migrations to Portugal, the Netherlands, South America, and subsequently, the New World of Colonial America. Besides the necessity of self-preservation, the children examine the driving necessity of the immigrants to maintain their Judaism despite the upheavals of forced migrations and the impact of the cultures into which they have relocated. Always examined and discussed is the positive influence and the contributions our people have made to each community in which they have settled.

Our oldest students, Chaverim (Friends), the seventh and eighth graders, began their course of study with the pogroms of the nineteenth century, which resulted in massive migration to the United States in the last two decades of that century and the birth of the Zionist movement, which sought the reestablishment of a Jewish homeland on the sight of the ancient nation. The efforts of Theodor Herzl and Chaim Weizmann, the promises of the Balfour Declaration, and the sacrifices made by the early twentieth-century pioneers in their tireless attempt to reestablish the modern state of Israel are all part of the back story which will culminate in their learning of the rebirth of Eretz Yisroel in 1948.

In addition to the curricula, there are enrichment classes necessitated by historic commemorations, such as the 80th observance of Kristallnacht this past November and, of course, the study of the Holocaust.

By better understanding the course of our past, our students are better equipped to comprehend the path we are on and the future direction of the Jewish people as it relates to global events and our continued existence as the Light Among Nations.