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90522 jewish american_history_month_packet_may_2012


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90522 jewish american_history_month_packet_may_2012

  1. 1. Jewish American Heritage Month May 2012“Jewish Americans in the Performing Arts” Miami-Dade County Public Schools Division of Social Sciences and Life Skills
  2. 2. THE SCHOOL BOARD OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA Ms. Perla Tabares Hantman, Chair Dr. Lawrence S. Feldman, Vice-Chair Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall Mr. Carlos L. Curbelo Mr. Renier Diaz de la Portilla Dr. Wilbert “Tee” Holloway Dr. Martin S. Karp Dr. Marta Pérez Ms. Raquel A. Regalado Ms. Hope Wilcox Student Advisor Alberto M. Carvalho Superintendent of Schools Ms. Milagros R. Fornell Associate Superintendent Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Maria P. de Armas Assistant Superintendent Curriculum and Instruction, K-12 Core Curriculum Mr. John R. Doyle Administrative Director Division of Social Sciences and Life Skills
  3. 3. JEWISH AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH 2012 2012 THEME: Jewish Americans in the Performing ArtsBackground InformationIn 1654, 23 Jews arrived on the shores of New Amsterdam (today New YorkCity), marking the arrival of the first Jewish immigrants who came to settle inNorth America. In 2004, the 350th anniversary of Jewish history in North Americawas celebrated. Following this historic celebration, an effort to commemorate anational month in honor of Jewish history was envisioned by U.S.Representatives Deborah Wasserman Schultz (D, FL) and Henry Hyde (R-IL).They introduced a resolution to the United States House of Representativescalling for creation of Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM). This resolutionwon strong support in both the House of Representatives and the Senate andPresident George W. Bush issued a Proclamation on April 20, 2006 calling onthe nation to commemorate JAHM.In April 2011, Jewish American Heritage Month was once again proclaimed byPresident Barack Obama. His proclamation stated:“Since before our Nations founding, Americas shores have been a safe harborfor people seeking shelter, hope, and new lives free from persecution. Here,people of all faiths have broken bread, come together, and built a better future fortheir families. The Jewish story is intertwined with the American story one ofovercoming great hardship, and one of commitment to building a more justworld. This month, we embrace and celebrate the vast contributions JewishAmericans have made to our country.Seeking a brighter future, a small band of Jewish refugees came to this landmore than three centuries ago, to a place called New Amsterdam. Hundreds ofyears later, as Holocaust survivors and families caught behind the Iron Curtainmade their way to America, their perseverance in the face of unimaginabletragedy inspired the world and proved that the Jewish people will not bedefeated. Many endured bigotry even here, reminding us that we must continueto fight prejudice and violence at home and around the globe. In this spirit,President Truman recognized the small, fledgling nation of Israel within minutesof its creation. To this day, we continue to foster an unbreakable partnership withIsrael, and we remain committed to pursuing peace in the region and ensuringIsraels security.From those first days in New Amsterdam, Jewish Americans have dedicated theirinnovation, creativity, and hearts to the greater good contributing scientificaccomplishments, pioneering works of literature and musical genius, andperforming distinguished service in our Nations military. Jewish Americans havedefended our country since the days of the American Revolution as devoted 1
  4. 4. service members and chaplains, and they continue to serve with distinction in ourArmed Forces. Nearly 70 years ago, during World War II, the U.S.A.T. Dorchester suffered anexplosion at sea while carrying almost a thousand soldiers and civilianworkers. On board were four Army chaplains two Protestant, one Catholic, andone Jewish. While the ship sank, the four chaplains gave their own life jackets tofour men without any, calmed the wounded, and preached strength to thesurvivors, linking arms and praying together as the ship submerged. In a time ofgreat need, these chaplains showed that their shared commitment to the lives ofothers was stronger than any division of faith or background.This same spirit is found in the countless Jewish Americans who, through theirevery day actions, work to provide a better life for future generations by joininghands with all who seek equality and progress. This month, we remember thatthe history and unique identity of Jewish Americans is part of the grand narrativeof our country, forged in the friendships and shared wisdom between people ofdifferent faiths.NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States ofAmerica, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the lawsof the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2011 as Jewish American HeritageMonth. I call upon all Americans to visit to learnmore about the heritage and contributions of Jewish Americans and to observethis month with appropriate programs, activities, and ceremonies.IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day ofApril, in the year two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the UnitedStates of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth. 2
  5. 5. JEWISH AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH 2012RESEARCHUsing the Internet and other resources in your classroom and mediacenter, research and respond to the following:1. More than ever in the 21st century in America, Jewish American playwrights, music composers and film producers are winning awards for exemplary work in the field of the Performing Arts. Research the Academy Awards and the Tony awards of the past 5 years, noting the various awards given to movies and plays produced and directed by Jewish Americans. Keep a list of these awardees and research their biographies to find information on how their Jewish cultural background influenced their artistic endeavors. Present this information to your school in the library on a bulletin board to celebrate and highlight these talents for Jewish American History Month.2. Today, television programs are watched by almost every household in America. Many of the documentaries, musicals and comedy sitcoms are written, produced and directed by Jewish Americans who often use their Jewish cultural backgrounds as a focus of their work. An example would be Jerry Seinfeld the Jewish American comedian who starred in and directed the T.V. series Seinfeld, which was a long-running hit for many years. Research other television shows of the past 10 years to find more examples of television productions – they may be from any genre that involved the talents of Jewish Americans. Note these contributions in a paper you present to your classroom, perhaps as an "infomercial" for Jewish American History Month 2012.3. Jewish Americans have long been heavily involved in the arts and literature, particularly the performing arts, in areas such as: theatre, film and filmmaking, symphony, television, comedy, radio, playwriting, opera, magicians and even as circus performers. Research three of these areas of interest and gather as much information as you can on how Jewish Americans have made their mark in these areas. Then use your research to write an essay paper of 3-5 pages, outlining the importance of Jewish Americans in the dramatic arts.4. Research Yiddish and Yiddish theatre. What is Yiddish? Where did it originate? How was Yiddish a part of Jewish culture? What about Yiddish theatre? How did (and does) Yiddish theatre reflect the lives of Jewish immigrants and the Jewish community in America? Why was the theatre so important to the Jewish community here?5. Many theatre musicals have been written and or produced by American Jewish composers; for example, Mary Poppins, Pal Joey, and Hello Dolly. 3
  6. 6. Research and find ten other musicals and be prepared to discuss their impact on the Broadway theatre scene. Also in your research, you will discover that in many of the songs written for these musicals, Jewish Americans were able to express their moral values as in the play South Pacific through the song ”Carefully Taught.”6. Choose one of the following Jewish Americans and do an in-depth research profile of the person’s life and work in the field of Performing Arts: Harry Houdini, Roberta Peters, Irving Berlin, Barbara Streisand, Michael Tilson Thomas, David Copperfield, Lauren Bacall, Oscar Hammerstein, Itzhak Perlman, Mel Blanc, George Gershwin, Judith Raskin, Eddy Cantor, Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis, Victor Borge, Marcus Loew, Louis B. Mayer, and Beverly Sills.7. Research the movie, “The Jazz Singer.” What was its significance? Who made it? Why is it important as a contribution by a Jewish American actor to film history?8. Comedy, like many of the performing arts, has a power to communicate ideas in new and unusual ways. However, comedy can also be a powerful tool to confront biases and belief systems – such as racism, exclusion, ethics, and moral dilemmas that other mediums cannot. A number of American Jewish men and women have devoted their lives to comedy and comedic pursuits. Some examples are Groucho Marx, Adam Sandler, the Three Stooges, Judy Holliday, Don Rickles, Mel Blanc, Joan Rivers, Jerry Lewis, Gene Wilder, Sarah Silverman and Billy Crystal. Research to discover more about the lives of some of these comedians, and how they have used the medium of comedic performance to perhaps, change the way people think. Present your research and conclusions to the class.9. Reality television, news radio and television, political television and radio, talk radio particularly are all areas in which Jewish Americans have been active. Research to discover 3-5 Jewish American radio and television personalities, such as: Larry King, Mike Wallace, Rod Serling, Wolf Blitzer, Jerry Springer, Sherri Lewis, and Laura Schlessinger. Why is their work important? Learn as much as you can about their lives and how they identify as Jewish.10. The events of the Nazi Holocaust from 1933-1945 had a tremendous and long-lasting impact on the Jewish population of the United States. Research to discover how American Jewish life in the performing arts has changed since the years of the Holocaust. Are Jewish Americans in the arts community different from those of the early 20th century in light of the events of the Holocaust? How has American Jewish performance and art been transformed by the Holocaust? Present your findings to the class. 4
  7. 7. 11. Who was Stella Adler? What important work did she do? How has her work affected many of the major actors and actresses in the filmmaking industry?12. How has filmmaking changed over the years, from silent films to today? Research early American Jewish filmmakers, such as Sigmund Lubin, and modern filmmakers, such as Steven Spielberg and Mel Brooks. How have these American Jewish artists changed the landscape of filmmaking?13. Research the role of American Jewish women in the performing arts. Some areas of interest might be: opera, comedy, television, screen-and-playwriting, and film. Write a 3-page essay outlining your research.REFLECT, WRITE, CREATEThe following activities are based on the research completed concerningthe contributions of the Jewish people in America.1. In small groups, discuss the performing arts as a whole. How and why is this type of artistic expression important? Why do you think it is important for Jewish Americans to be involved in the arts in some way? Why are the arts , music, drama, poetry, dance, painting, literature, and acting, important at all? And particularly, why might the arts, especially the performing arts, be important to immigrants? How did Jewish American immigrants use the arts to assimilate into American culture?2. Using your research, create a mixed-media collage reflecting on the idea of assimilation, particularly in regard to American Jewish immigrants in the performing arts. Create a poster board and incorporate poetry, film or television stills, your own art pieces, and other items to reflect what the idea of assimilating really means. Present your collage to the class and explain its significance.3. Imagine that the year is somewhere around 1920 and you are a newspaper columnist from a newspaper in New York City, sent to write a column on the Yiddish theatre there. Who would you interview? What would be your focus? Write the column and provide images if available, then present it to the class.4. Consider the various contributions of the American Jewish community to the performing arts. What one contribution to the arts do you feel is most vital to you personally? Write a persuasive paper to express your beliefs about the importance of this individual’s work. Create a class “Hall of Fame,” and place it on display in your school’s hallway or common area where everyone can learn about American Jewish contributions to the performing arts.5. Watch several films by Jewish filmmakers, writers, producers, or directors over the last 20 years of filmmaking. Then choose one to write an essay 5
  8. 8. paper on, explaining why you feel that it is a noteworthy film and what characteristics make it important to you. Be as in-depth and specific as possible. Then, present a clip from the movie and your paper to the class emphasizing the importance of Jewish film creators to America’s performing arts community.6. In your research about Jewish American women in the performing arts, what did you find? The last several decades have granted opportunities to Jewish women and women in general that are unlike any other period in history. Did what you discover in your research reflect these “new” freedoms for Jewish American women? Have a round-table class discussion of the importance of these women in the performing arts, and how they have influenced not only the artists that they worked with, but also the world around them. Each person should choose one American Jewish woman in the performing arts to present a mini-biography alongside their greatest contribution(s) to the arts, then after the presentations have a class discussion about all the women and their contributions to the performing arts. Be specific!7. After researching the history of the Jewish community in American performing arts, choose five artistic endeavors which were pioneered by Jewish Americans that you feel had an impact on the United States culturally. Then, using your research, write a dramatic script describing each event. Choose five students to then each read one of the scripts aloud and choose other students to perform the scripts to the class in a dramatization.8. Spread the word! Along with your Media Specialist, Art and Drama teachers, create a unique, mixed-media dramatic event based on your research of Jewish Americans’ contributions to the performing arts that your class will then present to the school in a school-wide assembly. Consider a blend of music, PowerPoint, film clips, and dramatic performances using painted backdrops and specifically selected artistic pieces representing the theme of American Jewry in performing arts.9. Choose one American Jewish actor, singer, theatre performer, magician, television personality, radio show host, or other performing artist that you researched and create a short film or PowerPoint presentation inspired by their life’s work and contributions to the arts. Present your work to the class, along with a short history of the artist’s life and work.10. Organize a class trip to a local theatre where there is a themed Jewish play, movie or concert to see a performance, if there is one playing. Find out if the theatre will let your class take a backstage tour and discover more about the vibrant dramatic arts community within the greater Jewish community. If there are no performances showing, invite a local Jewish theatre actor or actress or several to come to your class and discuss their work and its impact on their life and the world around them. Perhaps even ask if they would be 6
  9. 9. willing to put on a small dramatization for your class. Have specific questions for this person prepared beforehand.11. In Hebrew, the term tikkun olam means, “to repair the world,” and in Judaism, one is responsible and commanded to “repair the world” in some way, by promoting peace and working to make the world a better place. How have Jewish American performing artists carried out this command of tikkun olam in their lives? Are they active in humanitarian efforts? Do they give money or time to specific aid organizations? Research to discover the answers. How does the commandment to do good in the world influence the lives of these Jewish American artists? How might it influence your own life? Have your class create a school-wide event based on the idea of tikkun olam, where each of your classmates and schoolmates performs one good deed to “repair the world” within your school, and one in the larger community outside of the school. If you raise money for an organization, choose one that supports the performing arts in honor of Jewish American History Month. Then report on and discuss your act(s) and why you feel it was important, not only for yourself, but for those who you were serving, and the world.12. From your research, on Stella Adler, what was her strength in teaching acting students? As a class, watch some clips of her, and some of her most famous students: Marlon Brando, Judy Garland, Harvey Keitel, Melanie Griffith, and Robert De Niro, among others, acting in emotionally powerful scenes. What made them such great actors and actresses? Do you think Stella’s work was responsible, at least in part, for their successes? After watching 5-10 short clips, and reading some quotes from and about Stella Adler, have a class discussion about her work, and why it was, and still is, very important.13. In your research of these American Jewish performing artists, did anything stand out to you as a common characteristic? Some strength, or weakness, or personality trait that they all seemed to have? Did their personal histories come into their work at all? What about the fact that they are all Jewish? What do you think drew many of these Jewish American artists into their chosen field? In small groups, discuss your answers to these questions.14. After researching in-depth the life of one American Jewish performing artist, write a poem or perform a spoken-word piece about them and why their work is important to you and to the world. Present your writing to the class. 7
  10. 10. American Jewish Historical Society. Includes a variety ofresource items including American Jewish History in images, and portraits ofAmerican Jewish-American Hall of Fame. Includes shortbiographies and video clips of many prominent American Jewish people such asthose Jews who helped Columbus, a Revolutionary War patriot, and Houdini. Aquiz and virtual tour introduce visitors to American Jews in areas ranging fromscience to sports, from medicine to This website celebrates 350 years of Jewish Life in America. Itincludes a timeline of American Jewish History and “This Month in JewishHistory” where visitors can select a month and see what happened in that monthin years past. Also included are special exhibits and documents.www.americanjewisharchives: The history of American Jewry throughillustrations and documents. The American Jewish experience as seenthrough photographs, documents and other artifacts. Visitors can view thesematerials by selecting various periods of Includes timelines from 1585 as well as chapters inAmerican Jewish Jewish Women’s Archives. Includes exhibits based uponAmerican Jewish women who have made significant contributions to this Includes information about Jewish life, includingthe American Jewish winners of the Nobel Prizes. 8
  11. 11. The School Board of Miami-Dade County, Florida, adheres to a policy ofnondiscrimination in employment and educational programs/activities andprograms/activities receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department ofEducation, and strives affirmatively to provide equal opportunity for all as required by:Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - prohibits discrimination on the basis of race,color, religion, or national origin.Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended - prohibits discrimination inemployment on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, or national origin.Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 - prohibits discrimination on the basis ofgender.Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), as amended - prohibitsdiscrimination on the basis of age with respect to individuals who are at least 40.The Equal Pay Act of 1963, as amended - prohibits sex discrimination in payment ofwages to women and men performing substantially equal work in the sameestablishment.Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 - prohibits discrimination against thedisabled.Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) - prohibits discrimination againstindividuals with disabilities in employment, public service, public accommodations andtelecommunications.The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) - requires covered employers toprovide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to "eligible" employees for certainfamily and medical reasons.The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 - prohibits discrimination in employment onthe basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Florida EducationalEquity Act (FEEA) - prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, gender, national origin,marital status, or handicap against a student or employee.Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 - secures for all individuals within the state freedom fromdiscrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, ormarital status.School Board Rules 6Gx13- 4A-1.01, 6Gx13- 4A-1.32, and 6Gx13- 5D-1.10 - prohibitharassment and/or discrimination against a student or employee on the basis of gender,race, color, religion, ethnic or national origin, political beliefs, marital status, age, sexualorientation, social and family background, linguistic preference, pregnancy, or disability.Veterans are provided re-employment rights in accordance with P.L. 93-508 (FederalLaw) and Section 295.07 (Florida Statutes), which stipulate categorical preferences foremployment. 9