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?

Identify Israel on a map of the Middle East and locate key geographical areas and cities on a map of Israel

Israel is a beautiful country in the Middle East. It is surrounded by the Mediterranean sea on the west, Jordan on the east, Egypt on the south and Lebanon and Syria on the north.

Click here to visit an interactive map of Israel. What cities and towns are you familiar with? Can you find Jerusalem? Tel-Aviv?


Create a map of Israel out of ice cream. Yup, that's right. Maybe use Rocky Road for the mountains and blueberry for the seas. Don't forget to use sprinkles, Hershey kisses and other sweets to mark the major cities.

Engage in a dialogue about some of the unique challenges Israel faces as a multi-cultural and Jewish state

Israel is both a multi-cultural, democratic state and also a Jewish state. This can be a tricky balance. As a democratic state, Israel believes that everyone has an equal vote and voice. As a Jewish state, Israel wants to honor Jewish law and protect the Jewish people.

The phrase “the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state” entered into Israeli law in 1992. The phrase “the values of the state of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state” as it appears in the Basic Laws reflects the uniqueness of the State of Israel and of Israeli society. We are not like all the nations, and we are not like all the peoples. We are a democracy, and our values are like the values of any democratic state. But we are also a Jewish state, and as such our values are the values of a Jewish state.

What might be some of the challenges that Israel faces as she tries to live up to these two principles?

Compare and contrast the Israeli government and the American government

Israeli Government


Israel is the only fully democratic country in the Middle East. Just like the American government, the Israeli government has three branches: Legislative, executive and judicial.


The Knesset is the house of representatives of the State of Israel. Elections are held for seats in the Knesset every four years. If a party wins 3.5 percent of the votes, the party gets one or more seats in parliament. No one party has control so they have to work together. The leader of the largest party becomes prime minister. There is no limit to how many times someone can be Prime Minister.


He or she appoints a cabinet of ministers which runs the country. The 120 members of the Knesset elect a president who is the head of state. The President in Israel is largely a symbolic job. Most of the work of the state is done by the Prime Minister and the Knesset.

American Government


The U.S. Federal Government is made up of three branches: legislative, executive and judicial. To ensure the government is effective and citizens’ rights are protected, each branch has its own powers and responsibilities, including working with the other branches.

There are two elected Senators per state, totaling 100 Senators. A Senate term is six years and there is no limit to the number of terms an individual can serve.


There are 435 elected Representatives, which are divided among the 50 states in proportion to their total population. A Representative serves a two-year term, and there is no limit to the number of terms an individual can serve.

The president leads the country. He or she is the head of state, leader of the federal government, and Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces. The president serves a four-year term and can be elected no more than two times.

© 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