Na'aseh Shalom: Section III



Basic "nuclear literacy" information; exploring the complexities of Jewish involvement and how this is a matter for Jewish concern; choosing and deciding to act.

LESSON 14: Learning about Nuclear Issue
A. Warm-Up Activitie
B. Questions People Ask (or don't ask)

To find out what learners already know about nuclear issues; to explore why it i
important for Jews to speak out on this concern; to make connections between
nuclear and "Jewish" issue

[Note The following "warm-up" activities may be done before or after the "Questions" that follow.]

A useful way to present the BASIC QUESTIONS information is through Cooperative Learning Groups (see page 6). Form groups of three. Each person will be responsible for a third of the information. After each person has read the information for which they are responsible, they will discuss it with a person from another group who is responsible for the same information. After a few minutes, they will return to their own group to "teach" the others the information they have learned. Each student is responsible for learning all the information.

A. "Warm-Up" Activitie

I. Web Chart

Follow the sequence of activities under WEB CHART on the "Interaction Strategies" page 3. Use NUCLEAR as the key word. Or start with JEWS AND NUCLEAR ISSUES as the key word.

While brainstorming questions, encourage both YES-NO questions and INFORMATION questions, e.g., Do we need nuclear weapons for our country's security? How safe are nuclear weapons? Do nuclear weapons help our economy? What can ordinary citizens/young people do about nuclear issues? What would Hillel say about nuclear weapons? Why should I as a Jewish boy/girl pay attention to nuclear issues?

In the pairs, ask students to share associations and early memories with the words "war," "bomb," "nuclear." Then ask them to share three things that make them happy to be alive.

II. Drawing

Form random groups of three students each. Give each trio one piece of large paper. Tell them they will be drawing a group picture, so they will need to discuss beforehand what they will draw. On one half of the paper they will be drawing their images of nuclear war. On the other half, ask them to draw their images of a world at peace.

III. Film/Video

Show an appropriate video, e.g., "In the Nuclear Shadow," "Bombs Will Make the Rainbow Break," the "Children of War" video. Before the video, ask students to notice any new insights and any surprises that come up for them as they watch. After the film, ask the students to discuss these in pairs before a general discussion with the whole group.


Purpose: To gain basic "nuclear literacy," to counter denial and fear with information on which to form an opinion and intention to act.

Note: This information is useful and necessary in the nuclear age. It can be the basis for a person's decisions to act in a powerful way. It is, however, difficult information to imagine and take in. Decide if, when and how much to do the following activities with sensitivity to students' readiness and to their particular concems. Introduce it within the context that many people are acting to prevent nuclear war, and that Jewish values and history can provide us with guidance for living well in this age.



Some nuclear weapons are bombs which can be dropped from aircraft, just like conventional bombs.
Some nuclear weapons are missiles which can be launched into the air from ships, planes, or land. A nuclear missile carries at least one nuclear warhead. A nuclear missile can be short-range, medium-range, or long-range.

A cruise missile is only a yard wide and 20 feet long. It can fly more than 1,500 miles without a pilot at 450 miles per hour. It is hard to detect by radar because it can fly just above treetop level. It can carry an ordinary bomb, or it can carry a nuclear warhead whose explosive power is equivalent to 200,000 tons of TNT, or 16 times the power of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

When nuclear weapons are deployed they are in the place from which they can be launched.

Nuclear weapons are powerful because they involve the nuclei of atoms. In the atomic bomb the type exploded at Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, the atomic nuclei are ~jplit (fission). In the hydrogen bomb, which has been tested but not used in war, the nuclei are fused together (fusion).


1. Compared to a conventional bomb, a nuclear weapon can release much MORE ENERGY for the same weight.
2. This enormous amount of energy is released very quickly, in a FRACTION OF A SECOND.
3. The enormous energy of nuclear explosions cause MORE DESTRUCTIVE and MORE LONG-RANGE EFFECTS on people, the environment, and buildings than do conventional weapons. (Biological and chemical weapons are often called "conventional," but they are in a separate category.) For example, if many nuclear weapons are exploded at the same time, perhaps during a war, many scientists now believe there could be a "NUCLEAR WINTER," "A cold darkness so profound that land in both hemispheres will freeze, crops will fail, and life perish, because of the tons of soot from buming cities."
4. Some people say that because the effects of newly-developed chemical and biological weapons are so destructive, the line between nuclear weapons and so-called conventional weapons has become blurred.



The explosive force of nuclear weapons is compared to the amount of TNT (dynamite). It is also compared to the force of the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.
One megaton of explosive force is equal to 1,000,000 (one million) tons of TNT. One megaton is 50 to 100 times the force of the Hiroshima atom bomb. A nuclear bomb could have an explosive force of up to 25 million tons of TNT, or 25 megatons.



People learned about the effects of nuclear weapons when the first nuclear bombs were dropped by the United States on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August, 1945:

BURN — A nuclear explosion releases enormous energy in a millionth of a second. The temperature around it rises to 15,000 to 20,000 times the temperature of the sun's surface. If the fire ball touches the ground, it evaporates everything — concrete, steel, rock. Light and heat energy set fires miles away.

BLAST — The winds are many times the force of a hurricane. Buildings will collapse, debris will fly through the air, windows will turn into particles of glass traveling more than 100 miles per hour.

FALLOUT — Particles of vaporized soil and debris are made radioactive in the fireball and then fall back to earth as fallout.
Symptoms of radiation sickness: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of hair, bleeding,



In 1949, the Soviet Union test-exploded its first nuclear weapon. The "arms race" had begun: ever since 1949, when one country (US or USSR) has developed a new weapon, within 3-5 years, the other country would develop it, too. By 1983, the United States had 30,000 nuclear weapons, enough to destroy every man, woman and child in the Soviet Union many times over. The Soviet Union in turn had about 20,000 nuclear weapons.
1. Explain the terms on the left of the chart
below, if necessary.
2. Look at the dates of the chart below.
3. Make a web chart (see page 3) and discuss:
WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES THE ARMS RACE CONTINUE? Ask the students if they think the arms
race is really a "race," like a running marathon (for example, how will we know when someone "wins?"
What is the goal? What would the prize be?)
4. Ask the students to report on current information about negotiations to eliminate short-range,
intermediate-range, or long-range nuclear missiles.
5. Ask the students to look at the cartoon between the father and the daughter. Ask the students to tellthe story: What is happening? Where is it happening? Ask them to talk about the situation:What do they think the father is feeling? What do they think the little girl is feeling? Have they ever
asked an adult about the nuclear arms race? What do they think makes the arms race continue? Ask the
students to continue the dialogue, speaking or in writing.




Tell the students that it is very difficult to imagine what a nuclear weapon is, what it does, and how much firepower is available on earth today. Yet we must try to stretch our imaginations, if we are to understand why learning to make peace is so essential to our survival and flourishing in the nuclear age.

To get a stronger sense of the power of the nuclear weapons available today, do one of the following activities:

1. THROUGH SOUND: Set up a pot with a cover on it inside a plastic garbage can or on a sheet. Get a bag of 6,000 beebees (or kidney beans). The sound of one beebee as it drops on the lid represents all the firepower used during World War II, including the bombing of Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. Then pour the 6000 beebees onto the lid (the garbage can or sheet is to make cleaning up easier.) The sound represents all the firepower available in the world now. This is a very powerful exercise, even more powerful when the eyes are closed. Give the students time to reflect, alone or with another person, on the feelings and thoughts which came up, before discussing in the whole class.

2. VISUALLY: Ask the students to look at the chart. Ask them to draw a circle and make three dots inside. This represents weapons on one Poseidon submarine. Ask them to cover two squares with their finger. This represents enough firepower to destroy all the large and medium-sized cities in the entire world.

all the firepower of World War Il. This is three million (3,000,000) tons of TNT. This is three MEGATONS.

All the other dots show that in nuclear weapons now there are about 6,000 World War His.

About half belongs to the United States and the other half to the Soviet Union.


RESPONSE: Ask the students to look at the charts and the information.


Ask the students how much of each dollar that a person pays in federal income tax went to the military in 1983. Ask them how much went to the military in 1986. Explain to them that most of the money for the military goes directly to the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, which is responsible for nuclear weapons. The rest is for the Veteran's Administration and for payment of the interest on the military's share of the national debt.

Ask the students if they earn or have money to spend, how would they choose to spend it? What desireable consequences would each of their choices have? What undesireable consequences would each have?

Explain to the students that the other chart shows some consequences of military spending for the U.S. economy. Ask them to compare the desireable and the undesireable consequences of choosing to spend more than half of every federal income tax dollar on the military.

Dialogue-towards-agreement: Ask the students to form groups of 4. Two students (YES) will make the argument, both on Jewish and US security grounds, that military spending is worth it; two students (NO) will make the argument that it should be lower.
Ask the two YES students to find two YES students from another group and together discuss the arguments they will use. The NO students will find two NO students to construct arguments.

After about ten minutes, ask them to return to their original groups. Each side will present its own arguments. Then each side will reverse roles and present the other side's arguments. Finally, on the basis of the arguments, they will try to reach agreement on whether military spending should stay at the same level or decrease.
Seeking Guidance in Jewish Experience
A. Traditional Source
B. The Holocaust Experience
C. Individual Response

A. Where in Jewish Tradition Can We Look For Guidance?

To investigate Jewish texts with the question of whether or not to build
nuclear weapons; how to treat enemies; protection of the environment; the question of violence; questions of civil disobedience.

1. Deuteronomy 20, Laws of War. Ask the students to look at the chart (see next page) and
determine if, according to it, the building and the threat to use nuclear weapons would be defensible
according to Jewish law. [Other resources: I-Ersch, The Bomb and the Torah, Menorah; Saul Berman, in
Preventing the Nuclear Holocaust.]
Ask the students to read Deut. 20 (next page) and ask and answer the questions about war: What kind of violence is ok? For what reasons is violence ok? Who should declare war? What should the conduct of the
war be? Who should fight in the war? What if any guiding principles are there?

2. Noah. This is the one place in Jewish tradition that deals with the threat of world annihilation.

3. Humani1y's obligation to care for the environment. Ask the students to read the following quotes. Ask them to make the arguments both for and against the elimination of nuclear weapons, according to these

Deut. 20:19-30: "When you besiege a city, do not destroy the trees thereof; you may eat of them but you
must not cut them down."

Gen. 1-20 and Midrash: God, showing Adam all the trees in the Garden of Eden, said: "See My works, how fine and excellent they are. All that I have created has been given you. Remember this and do not corrupt and desolate the world; for if you corrupt it, there is no one after you to set it right."

The Jewish principle Bal Tashkit — prohibition against destruction of the environment — makes human beings guardians of the earth.

4. Pursue justice. Ask the students to read the quote below and make arguments for and against the elimination of nuclear weapons. Ask them to use the information in this section and other information in constructing their arguments.

"The sword comes into the world because of justice delayed, because of justice perverted and because of those who interpret Torah contrary to Ha la k ha h. "

— Pirke Avot 5:8.

5. Enemies. Ask the students to read Proverbs 2:20; 24:27; 25:21, also Ex. 23:2, and the quotes below. Ask them to discuss how, according to Jewish tradition, we should treat enemies. Ask them how personal enemies are similar to national enemies. Ask them how they are different.

"There is a great lesson in this story [of Moses] ... We sometimes think of the Egyptians as being bad and cruel, yet it is Pharoah's daughter, an Egyptian, who saves the Jewish people. She even knew from the start that Moses is a Jew. This teaches us that every nation has good people."
(Being Torah by Joel Grishaver, p. 193)

Who is a hero? The person who turns an enemy into a friend.
— Abot. de. R. Nathan ch. 23.


Purpose: To understand that there are different lessons possible from the Holocaust experience; to help students form their own opinion; to clarify the relationship between the Nazi Holocaust and a possible nuclear holocaust; to explore together feelings which come up in thinking about the Nazi Holocaust and a possible nuclear holocaust.

Write the word HOLOCAUST on the board. Tell the students they will be reading quotes from people who survived the Nazi Holocaust or whose actions have been influenced by the Holocaust. Remind them that the word Holocaust is also used in connection with nuclear catastrophe. In thinking about both of these, feelings of fear, anger, despair may come about. It is important to express these, and to find out that other people are feeling them too.

Ask each student to take one minute to write on a piece of paper any associations with the word. After a minute, ask students to stop writing. Ask them to call out the associations, while you make a WEB CHART on the board for about five minutes. Discuss themes, feelings, or personal experiences, as appropriate.

2. Concentric Circles — Face to Face Sharing

Follow the sequence of Concentric Circles on the 'Interactive Strategies' (pg. 5) Students can speak for two minutes each with each partner:

1. "When I hear the word Holocaust, I think of... and I feel..."

2. "The first time I heard about nuclear bombs was... and I felt..."

3. "At this moment, what gives me hope is... (or) "A person who inspires me is..."

3. Jewish Peace Covenant

Ask the students to read together the Jewish Peace Covenant below. Ask them to name three specific things they might do if they made such a pledge. Ask individual students who want to read the pledge alone to do so. (This activity may be repeated after work with Section III of this lesson, The Holocaust: Individual Responses).

"As a Jew, I have been witness to the Holocaust, in which eleven million human beings perished, six million of them Jews. Now I stand at the brink of an atomic holocaust, in which, if it takes place, not only all of my people but all of the human race will perish.

As a Jew and as a member of the human race, I must bear witness once again. Therefore, I pledge that I will not cease in my efforts to bring about the dismantling of all atomic weapons in every nation. I will protest with all my mind and all my strength against the creation of new atomic weapons. I will support no government spending for atomic or chemical or poison gas weapons, and I will not rest until our earth is rid of these threats to the existence of life."



To examine various opinions about the Nuclear Question derived from Jewish experience. To use the opinions as examples for students to develop their own views.


Ask the students to form groups of three. One person will read the quotes from Luttwak and Pisar, another the quote from Wiesel, and a third the story of Andy Mager. Each will then discuss what has been read with a person from another group, and then return to the first group to share what has been learned.

Discuss in the whole group students' responses to the four men. Ask them in what ways we might respond the same, and what ways differently.

Edward Luttwak

"Jews have suffered because of weakness; therefore, choose power, not pacifism."

Samuel Pisar

"Part of each and every one of us is here, in eternal Jerusalem, our most sacred shrine; the other part remains forever in the cinders of the Holocaust, where we have died six million times with our brothers and sisters... To us, the Holocaust is not only an indelible memory of horror; it is a permanent warning... We know that man is capable of the worst as he is capable of the best... We know that the unthinkable is indeed possible... We have a duty to reaffirm, in this place and at this time, the primordial importance of the great ethical values of Judaism in the continued quest for survival and peace..." (Samuel Pisar, 1981)

Discussion Guide

Ask the students what statements of Pisar they agree with. Ask them what they think the unique legacy is that Jews have to hand down to our fellow humans. What does Pisar mean, "the unthinkable is possible"? Ask them what makes it difficult to coexist with hereditary enemies, and what makes it possible. Ask them to raise their hands if they share Pisar's confidence that we can meet these challenges. Ask them what gives them confidence and hope. Ask them what makes them doubt that we can meet these challenges.

Elie Wiesel
"Never say that society will not do this or that; it will. Never seek shelter in convenient illusions that History will know when to stop so as not to destroy itself; it will not... I belong to a generation traumatized by mass-murder, considered at that time a normal event. Whoever has seen a death-camp will tell you: the impossible does become possible; the unthinkable does come to pass... Is there anything we can do? There must be. Surely apathy is not the answer; nor is silence..."

Discussion Guide
Ask the students to name two lessons that Wiesel draws for living today that come from his experience during the Holocaust. Ask them what feelings came up as they read Wiesel's talk. Ask them to respond to Wiesel's question,"Is there anything we can do?" Ask the students to name three lessons that could be drawn from the Holocaust that would suI212ort a U.S. policy of building nuclear weapons.

(adapted from "The Courage of a Resister" by Carolyn Toll, Genesis 2, April, 1985)

"Andy Mager, a bearded 23-year-old who had conducted his own defense in his shirt sleeves from a table strewn with yellow legal papers, caln-dy took the witness stand and began to address the jury.

"I am a Jew," he began softly. "I look back on World War II with horror at the millions of my people who were killed. Under the Nuremberg accords, which were initiated by the U.S. following that war, many Nazi war criminals were sent to prison for obeying orders. Under Principles VI and VII of those accords, I have an obligation not to participate in the "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of war in violation of international treaties, accords and agreements." And this is true even if it means that I must disobey a law of my own country ......

"He told the crowd the story of Hannah Senesch, the young Zionist who gave her life by leaving the safety of Palestine to parachute into Nazi-occupied Hungary in 1944 to rescue Jews from the coming deportations. Andy said he was inspired by her example of courage in confronting evil and considered his action an attempt to follow her tradition...

'Our ways of looking at the world haven't changed as quickly as weaponry has. Our ideas about national security must reflect the fact that the weapons we are told will protect us may more likely cause the destruction of our planet. What do nuclear weapons have to do with draft registration? Changing technology has blurred the lines between conventional and nuclear weapons. Soldiers could now carry nuclear weapons into the field in backpacks ... so that any war would easily escalate into a nuclear war. Knowing this, preventing conventional wars from happening is a vital part of preventing a nuclear war...'

"A week later, Andy's mother... said a Long Island Presbyterian clergyman had read about Andy in the newspaper and given a sermon about him as an example of "Christian conscience." One of the congregants was a woman with a son just a year older than Andy, who knew the Magers. She wrote them to say she was now ashamed that she had pressured her own son to register, for practical reasons, when he had expressed hesitation.

"She told me that the example of Arthur's and my support of Andy made her ashamed that she did not support her own son in the same way... She said that if more parents backed their sons' refusal to register, perhaps we could give even more men courage to refuse and we might make a difference."

Discussion Guide

Together list the characters in the story. Ask the students to tell the situation in their own words. Ask them to say how they think each of the characters felt. Ask them whether any of the people had an inner conflict. Share information about the Nuremburg Accords and Hannah Senesch. Ask the students whether they know anyone who has been a conscientious objector or who had a similar experience, whether they know anyone who has been in the military service, whether they have ever heard a military recruiter. Ask them how they and their friends and their parents feel about registration, and about Andy's action. What is attractive about military service? What is not attractive? What groups of people tend to go into military service in the U.S.? Why do they think this is the case? How do they know this is the case?

Ask the students what they think influenced Andy to make his decision and whether they agree with Andy's action. Ask them what might make them disobey U.S. law. Why? What is conscientious objection? Ask them: What do you think you might do if you were called to register for the draft? Do you think women ought to be required to register? Why or why not? Do you think there should be some form of service to country required of everybody? Why or why not? What kind?

Thinking It Through and Taking a Stand

I. What Do I Think?

Purpose: To help students digest the information and state their own informed opinions, based on Jewish values and historical experience and their knowledge about nuclear weapons; to help students choose and stand up for their own point of view.

Ask the students to look at the chart below, TWO APPROACHES TO NUCLEAR WEAPONS USE. Then follow the "dialogue-towards-agreement" format (page 47). Ask them to use both Jewish and secular arguments for their opinons.

Michael believes a nuclear war is not like any other war. He says no one can win a nuclear war. He thinks that everybody will lose in a nuclear war. He thinks that the words "war" and "weapons" do not describe the use of nuclear missiles and bombs correctly.

Tova disagrees. She thinks a nuclear war is like any other war in history. She says one country can win a nuclear war against another country. She says the United States must prepare to win a nuclear war.

II. Where Do I Stand?

Purpose: To assess different types of action on the basis of Jewish values, effectiveness, and personal consequences of the action; to investigate feelings and thoughts about different types of action by engaging in role-playing and reflection on it


Give the students the following statements. Ask them to think for a few moments about which position they agree with most. Ask them to raise their hand as you call out the positions. Then designate different areas of the room for each position, and ask students to stand at the position they agree with most. They may change their mind if they want. Ask each group to give personal and Jewishly based reasons about why they chose the position they did and report out to the group.

WINNER: Our cause is just. We are protecting freedom. We can't afford to let communism take over the world. A limited nuclear war is winnable. It is possible to have a nuclear war which is limited.

JUST WAR THEORIST: War can never be eliminated. In some circumstances, it is necessary.

AGONIZED PARTICIPANT IN WAR: I know war is evil. But we can't let other people fight our battles. We have to act responsibly.

CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR: I believe as a responsible citizen, I must dissent (from military service)(from war taxes) (from working in a weapons factory).

ACTIVIST: I work to shape public opinion and legislation demanding alternatives to the arms race and to war as a means of solving conflicts.

RESISTER: I engage in civil disobedience to call attention to this problem and to make my witness public.

PACIFIST: I refuse to resort to any kind of violence or injury to another person even in self-defense.


Ask the students to form groups of six to make a skit with the following situation:
"A young man is 18 and must register for the draft. He wants to be a conscientious objector, but he is not sure. He has a conversation(s) with people who are important to him. For each character, decide the age, religious background, national background, personal experiences (e.g., Holocaust survivor); rabbi (for); rabbi (against); mother; father; other family members — grandparents, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles; Hebrew school teacher; other teachers.

Before the students plan the skit, ask them to discuss together and write on one piece of big paper three arguments for and three arguments against conscientious objection. Ask them to include reasons from Jewish tradition, historical experience, and current situation.

After the students practice the skit, ask them to write a 7-sentence statement about what the man decided to do.
Then show the skits and statements to the other groups.


Michael's Opinion
n A nuclear war is NOT like any other war
n It cannot be won So we must make sure it never happen
n Arms Control
n Disarmament

Tova's Opinion
n A nuclear war IS like any other war
n It can be won or lost So we must be prepared to win
n First Strike Options Arms Control
n Arms Escalation

Making It Real: "Towards The Year 2000"

To imagine how the elimination of nuclear weapons might occur.

I. "Good News" Newspaper, 2000"

In the whole group, brainstorm with the students some "could be better" news headlines. These may be personal, local, national or global.

Ask the students to work in pairs or threes and develop "good news" headlines, including good Jewish news, environmental news, personal conflict resolution news, good news about nuclear bombs, conventional weapons, and war, good news about meeting human needs, etc. Practice a few examples of transforming "could be better" news into "good news" with the whole group before the students work on their own. Examples from current newspapers can be re-written, as below. Discuss the content of the example below. Discuss how taking a "time-trip" to the future and looking back can stimulate new ideas and shift perceptions. (See also Lesson #3: Shalom: Imagining the Future ("Honi").)

Students can write their headlines in calligraphy; others can illustrate a headline; others can write an article. For example:


The Economic Conversion Act (H.R. 4805) introduced by Rep. Nicholas Mavroules was passed ten years ago today.
The bill directed the Defense Department to give communities a year's notice of pending contract cancellations on cancellation of contracts of 10 million dollars or more.
Under the Act, the Defense Department has given planning and job retraining grants up to $250,000 and provided temporary income for every displaced worker.
Five years ago, in 1995, Rep. Ted Weiss' more comprehensive bill, the Defense Economic Adjustment Act, passed Congress with a clear majority.
These two bills provided the framework for successful conversion from military to non-military production. Workers found new jobs with little delay and the economy is strong.

II. "Transarmament 2000"
Guided Imagination.

Ask the students to take a trip with you in their imaginations. Ask them to relax in their chairs, feet flat on the floor, heads down on their desks if they want. Ask them to take a few deep breaths.

Ask them to picture themselves in a space vehicle. They are landing on earth, anywhere they want, in the year 2000. Ask them to see and hear and touch and smell where they land. They meet a person: ask them to imagine in detail what that person looks like, what the voice sounds like. That person tells them with joy that all nuclear armaments have been eliminated, and tells them the story of how this was done. Ask the students to imagine for a few moments. Then slowly they will come back to present time. Ask them, when they are ready, to open their eyes, and share what they have seen and heard.

Ask the students to read, or summarize for them, the article Transarmament 2000 in The Shalom Report #6. Discuss Waskow's time-line and major points.

III. Round-Table Discussion

Peace and Security in the Nuclear Age, Jewish Perspective
In the whole group, brainstorm conflict situations in the world today (e.g.: the United States and Central America, South Africa, the Soviet Union and the U.S., Nicaragua, Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states, Iran and Iraq).

The students will be a group of rabbis who have been asked to give advice to the President of the United States from the Jewish perspective.

Ask the students to form small groups based on which conflict situation they want to think about. In the small groups, they are to list five points of advice they would want to be sure to include, particularly referring to their own conflict area. They should keep in mind the following questions and context:

1) traditional teachings on peace, war, justice, community, violence, security;
2) contemporary concerns that have particular relevance for Jews, e.g., Israel, the Soviet Union;
3) contemporary concerns that concern all people, e.g., hunger, racism, the Bomb;

4) the personal, interpersonal, and structural experience of violence, war, and peace;

5) the question of what conditions are required for security and peace in the nuclear age;

6) the question of how differences in the Jewish community are resolved;

7) the question of how differences between Jewish concerns and the concerns of other groups of people are resolved;

8) new modes of thinking, for example, from feminism and ecology.


When, if ever, would a nuclear strike against the Soviet Union be justified? What would be considered an obligatory war and what would be considered an optional war against the Soviet Union? Is an obligatory war pern-dssible if the destruction of Israel would likely result from such a war? Is it better to surrender and survive, than fight and be destroyed? Are these the only options? Under what circumstances should a nation be willing to fight even if it will lead, with great certainty, to the destruction of the nation? Is the word "war" and the teaching on war relevant in the nuclear age? Why? Why not?

In the whole group, each group can share its five points. Together, write a resolution to the President.


Purpose: To integrate the learning with thinking about and taking action in the world.


Show the students pictures or a video tape showing different kinds of political action (signing a petition, voting, demonstrations, talking with family/friends, praying, singing, etc.)

Ask the students why action is important.

Ask the students to look at the charts and talk about what makes different kinds of action important. For example, why is talking to family and friends considered an action? Why is it important?


Ask the students how they would know whether or not an action they had taken was successful.

In concentric circles (page 5) or in groups of three, ask the students for examples of successful actions they have heard of or taken themselves. Ask them how they knew it was successful. Ask them what they learned from participating in or organizing or deciding to take an action. Ask them for times when an action failed, or they felt it was not successful. Ask them how they felt when the action was not successful. Ask them what they learned from the failure.

Report back in whole group discussion.


Ask the students for examples of times they have considered an action, but then could not take the first steps. Why does the midrash say "All beginnings are hard." What could make a beginning easier?


Show the students the two circles, "Cycle of Empowerment" and "Cycle of Hopelessness." Ask the students for examples of times they have given up on a project and times they have persevered. Ask them to state in their own words the "lesson" communicated by the circles of hopelessness and of empowerment.


Together explore examples from Torah stories of people deciding to act or not-act: what made them decide the way they did? What were the consequences of their action? Ask the students, first in pairs and then in whole group discussion, to share examples of times they have made a decision that was difficult or important to them, and the consequences of the decision.


Brainstorm possible action steps, for example:

More study about any of the questions or areas raised, talk with family and friends about their opinions, letters to prominent Jews who do not agree with the points of view of Wiesel and Pisar (e.g., Podhoretz, Luttwak) to ask them for their point of view; a choral reading program linking the two holocausts; Write to JINSA and the Coalition for Peace through Strength for information about their organizations.

Brainstorm possible individual actions.

Talk to family and friends about war and peace. Write a letter to a world leader about your opinions as a Jew. Wear a button which states your point of view. Give gifts of peace books/magazines to family and friends. Participate in vigils or demonstrations in support of your point of view. Become a contact for legislative alerts and spread that information to other people.

Brainstorm possible group actions. Examples:

Participate or organize a "dialogue forum" or teach-in. Propose that the synagogue be declared a nuclear-free zone. Organize a letter-writing campaign. Connect with youth around the country. Join or organize a Jewish peace/study group. Write letters as Jews to legislators and newspaper

Ask each student to decide and state publicly whether or not she or he is ready to take action at this time. Ask each student who wants to, to state the individual action for peace she or he has decided to take. For example: "In order to help create conditions of peace, I, (name), have decided to ..., and I will do it by (date). My first step will be ... Someone who can support me in this action is ......
Decide as a group whether any group project is appropriate at this time.

Jewish and Interfaith Topics: