Just over 3000 years ago, King David captured a small city that was built on a hill. The city was surrounded by a high wall, guard towers and deep valleys, with water resources provided by a large spring and protected by a unique fortification system. Shortly after, he named the city after himself (“City of David”), turned it into his capital and began making plans to build the Holy Temple.
On that day, Jerusalem became the eternal capital of the Jewish people. Subsequently, the city would also become a major center for Christianity and Islam as well.
For centuries, Jews in exile would face Jerusalem during prayers, and would declare multiple times each year “Next year in Jerusalem!”. The movement for the national restoration of the Jewish people was named “Zionism”, after another of the city’s names. Due to the insistence of David Ben-Gurion and in spite of many practical difficulties, today’s Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city.
This unit, especially helpful for participants who will be coming to Israel for the first time, is designed to build anticipation for and appreciation of the privilege of visiting Jerusalem – a trip that generations of our ancestors dreamed of making. It utilizes the power of classroom preparation in order to enrich the visit to the City of David – an extremely popular Jerusalem destination that is so often misunderstood due to the confusing combination of important finds from different periods. By drawing on texts the participants have studied from different time periods, the connections between the ancient past and contemporary present become clear as they travel through the city during the tour.
Students will study sections of the Biblical books of Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah and Chronicles, as well as some Talmudic and historical texts from the Second Temple period. There will also be a unit on the development of modern Jerusalem, from the early 19th century until today.
Program in Israel
This program can be run over the course of one full day, or as two half-day programs on two different days in Jerusalem. The first half will take place in the City of David and the Old City. Students will see the amazing archeological remains taking us back 4000 years to the very beginnings of Jerusalem, and will walk through its underground tunnels (including Hezekiah’s water tunnel, weather permitting).
The second half-day program focuses on how this ancient city became the modern capital of Israel, from the “exodus from the walls” in 1860 through the establishment of the State and beyond. Beginning at the Moses Montefiore Windmill in Yemin Moshe, participants will walk through downtown Jerusalem with stops at Rav Kook’s house, the Russian Compound/Underground Prisoners’ Museum, Mea Shearim and Nachlaot. The tour ends with a scavenger hunt game at the outdoor Machane Yehuda marketplace. Along the way, they will learn the city’s modern history in an interactive way.
Note: This Israel Upgrade program is presented as a sample; programs can be customized, and similar programs can be designed on other topics and/or at other sites in Israel, in order to meet the group’s particular educational goals.
All Preparatory Units will be taught using maps, photos, videos, and EdTech tools supplied by JETS. Instruction can be provided by local teachers with the aid of these materials, or remotely by JETS staff. There should be at least one remote session with the JETS educator who will guide the students on the program in Israel.