Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades

Taking It Home: Judaism 2: People of the Law

In a free society, some are guilty. But all are responsible. — Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1944; 1964

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. — Psalms 1:1-3 (New Revised Standard Version of the Bible)

IN TODAY'S WORKSHOP... we learned Judaism's core story about Moses and the Ten Commandments, and considered the relevance of the Ten Commandments to our lives today. We learned about some prophets in Hebrew scripture and acted out a story about King Solomon that explores justice. We learned more about concepts and practices of Judaism and sought connections between Jewish practices and values and our own faith.


  • Many American Jews are very defensive of the State of Israel. Even Jews who are ready to acknowledge mistakes Israel may have made or injustices it may have committed can respond to criticism of Israel as if they were personally being criticized. Can you understand why this would be so? Sometimes difficult subjects can be broached if one seeks to understand the other's viewpoint, assumes their best intentions, and honors their values. How well do you talk with people about subjects they feel passionately about?
  • Do you find meaning in your food choices? If other people were to observe your food choices and ask why you eat what you do, how would you answer? Would you be proud of your answers? Would your answers reflect your faith beliefs? Your spiritual or moral values?
  • Do you feel associated with "a people?" If you do, what is the basis of that affiliation? National origin (like "Italian"), culture (like "gamer"), gender, sexual orientation, race?
  • Do you feel that Unitarian Universalists are a people? If not, would it be good if we were? If so, what holds us together? What can you do to help Unitarian Universalists be "as one?"
  • Can you differ in some ways from another Unitarian Universalist, yet share a sense of belonging to the same people? Why? When do you feel the most at one with other Unitarian Universalists?


  • Invite your parent or guardian to talk with you about a hard time they have experienced. If they prefer not to share about their own difficult times, ask if they will share some family history with you about a difficult time another family member has experienced. Does your parent/guardian feel anything was learned in that time? If something was gained, did it take time to realize it? Did the person involved undertake a process to find meaning in the experience, or did it just come to them? Did the hardship make them more aware of hardship faced by others?
  • Talk to your friends about the idea of home. What does it mean to have a home? Do you and your friends feel you have true homes? Have you thought about what it would be like not to have one? Is it important to you to have a religious home? Is your religious home associated with a building? With a person—a friend, teacher, minister, mentor? Any gathering of like-minded people? What is it, for you, that makes a religious home? Do your friends have similar ideas about what makes a religious home?
  • Talk with family and friends about justice as practiced in the United States. Is the current system of judge, jury, lawyers, evidence, and witnesses the best we can do? What role, if any, does each of those parties play in making sure justice is done? Would it be better to take out some of the players? Add more? Change the rules? What would make it a better system? If large-scale change would be beneficial, how could one begin to change the entire system—what would be first?