This page provides free curricular resources for Jewish day schools, religious schools, camps, youth groups, and adult education organizations. There are lesson plans about Jewish languages, Yiddish, and Jewish English. And there are videos and teachers' guides about Jewish Neo-Aramaic and Judeo-Median languages of Iran. More resources will be added in the coming years. If you have ideas for other resources that would be useful, or if you'd like to contribute curricular materials, please get in touch.
Pages for Jewish Holidays
Known as "the new year for trees," Tu Bishvat has been increasingly embraced as a holiday celebrating the environment and honoring the bountiful planet that is our home. In some Jewish languages, the name of this holiday appears as a close variation on the Hebrew: Tubisbat in Judeo-Arabic and Haketia, and Tubizvat in Judeo-Italian. Other names for this holiday hint at the variety of ways it has been celebrated around the world. In Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), spoken by Sephardic Jews, the holiday is called Las Frutas, meaning "the fruits." Sephardic communities have traditionally held Tu Bishvat seders featuring symbolic fruits like dates, olives, and pomegranates; the ritual was initially created by Jewish mystics in medieval times. The name for the holiday in Judeo-Georgian, Shbídi Pherobá, means "the seven species." These are the seven foods described in the Book of Deuteronomy as growing abundantly in the Land of Israel, reinforcing the connection between Diaspora communities and the Holy Land. In Jewish Neo-Aramaic, spoken by Kurdish Jews, the name Mzdane 'Ilane means "gifts of the trees." Each of these languages offers a window into how communities observe the Tu Bishvat holiday and the variety of texts, customs, and ideas that inform how Jews honor the earth's abundance.
Based in the ancient land of Israel and medieval mysticism, Tu Bishvat offers a meaningful framework for considering the modern Jewish relationship with the earth. While Jewish communities today might not participate in regular tree planting or fruit harvesting, we can all relate to the experience of sitting under the welcoming shade of a tree or biting into a tender fig. In an era where we sometimes feel overrun by technology and regulated by data, it can be refreshing to embrace the rhythms of nature instead. Tu Bishvat is a chance to witness a moment in the cycle of plant growth, and the rituals developed around this holiday, both old and new, offer opportunities to connect more deeply with the miraculous nature around us. Tu Bishvat also challenges us to consider how we, personally, are accepting responsibility for our increasingly fragile planet. What can inspired Jewish ecological activism look like? How can we better protect the plants and animals fighting for their survival? Stewardship of the earth is a global challenge rooted in Jewish values; likewise, the community of Jews thinking through these issues and raising awareness of climate change is global in its makeup. Sharing a diversity of names for the holiday is a fitting way to teach about Tu Bishvat: Jewish languages, just like the trees, flowers, and plants populating our earth, are a beautifully diverse group in need of preservation!
Lesson 1 - Who speaks Jewish languages?
Lesson 2 - How do these languages differ from the neighboring non-Jewish languages?
Lesson 3 - What are these languages like? Focus on Yiddish
Lesson 4 - Jewish English: Drawing from Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, etc.
Lesson 5 - Rosh Hashanah Symbolic Foods with Optional MasterChef
Notecards, posters, worksheets, and other materials for the lessons above
Short films about Jewish languages
Short film about Jewish Neo-Aramaic.
Teachers' guide about Jewish Neo-Aramaic.
Short film about Judeo-Median languages of Iran (Judeo-Isfahani, Judeo-Hamedani, Judeo-Kashani, etc.).
Teachers' guide about Judeo-Median languages of Iran
See also curricular resources about Jewish diversity from our partner organizations, ASF Institute of Jewish Experience, Bechol Lashon, and JIMENA.