Enduring Understandings:

You will understand that...

  • Israel is the Jewish homeland and has been for 4,000 years

  • Israel is a vibrant democracy in a troubled region

  • Israel is an ancient land and a high-tech giant

Essential Questions:

What do you think?

  • How is Israel both a Jewish state and a democratic state?

  • How can Israel be both a homeland for the Jews and a welcoming country to all peoples?

  • How is Israel's diversity a source of strength?

I can provide examples of how Israel made the desert bloom

Take a look at these two pictures.

This picture was taken over 100 years ago. In April 11, 1909, the first Israeli pioneers gathered on one of the Mediterranean’s bare beaches to choose plots of land for their new homes. Each member’s name was written on a sea shell, and one by one the 66 Jewish families received their own portion of the Holy Land. And thus, the building of the “first Hebrew city” was underway.

This is a picture of modern Tel Aviv - the same place as the first picture! More than half of Israel is desert. It's hard to believe all that Israel has created in that desert. Today, Tel Aviv is Israel's second most populated city and is the economic and technological center of the country. 

When Israel declared independence 50 years ago, the bulk of this land was a desolate expanse of desert, far from the cities of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. David Ben-Gurion, the father of the modern Jewish state, urged his fellow Israelis to make the desert bloom. All it lacked, he said, was Jews and water. 

"The Negev [region in the south] is our nation's cradle, the state's vulnerable point and its great hope," the nation's first prime minister said.

"To make the desert bloom," as Ben-Gurion had put it, became a challenge and a measure of what this tiny state could accomplish, to transform the biblical homeland into a modern nation-state.

I can describe three ethnic groups in Israel including their music, customs, foods and how they came to be in Israel.

There are dozens of different ethnicities and religions that make up the population of Israel. About two-thirds of the population was born in Israel. All other Israelis come from over 70 different countries. Most Israeli Jews live a lifestyle similar to western Europeans and North Americans. Here are some other facts about diversity in Israel:


  • Israel's population is about 75 percent Jewish

  • Over 15 percent of Israelis are Arab Muslims, and approximately 7 percent are Christians, Druze, and Bedouin.

  • About 250,000 Bedouins, an Arab nomadic people, reside in Israel. With the educational opportunities offered in Israel, illiteracy rates among Bedouins have fallen a remarkable 70 percent within a generation.

  • There are 1.8 million non-Jews in Israel–making up about 24 percent of Israel’s population.

  • Israel officially recognizes 15 distinct religious groups. Each religious community regulates its own rules about marriage, divorce and wills.

  • Christians in Israel make up 2.1 percent of the population and increased from 34,000 in 1948 to 154,000 in 2009. Israel is the only Middle Eastern country in which the Christian population has grown in the last half century.

  • The Israeli city of Haifa is home to the Baha’i world headquarters. The Baha’i faith is an independent religion that arose in Persia in the mid-19th century.

What can you discover about some of Israel's ethnic groups?

I can describe what a democratic state is and some of the elements that make Israel a democratic state.

Israel is a democracy. A democracy is a type of government where the people can take part in the decisions that affect the way their community is run. In Israel, everyone has an equal voice whether they are Jewish, Christian, Muslim or any other religion. And democracy in Israel isn't just about voting. Israelis are free to live as they wish and believe whatever they want.

  • Coming soon!

© 2019 by Rabbi David Paskin

JPaL is a program of Temple Sinai of North Dade
Call Us: 305-932-9012   /   rabbi.david@tsnd.org   /  18801 NE 22nd Ave, Miami, FL 33180