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OpenBook: Discovering American Jewish History Through Objects

Download our national curriculum OpenBook: Discovering American Jewish History Through Objects to teach American Jewish history through objects and partner learning!


Open Book photoThe National Museum of American Jewish of History is pleased to offer OpenBook: Discovering American Jewish History Through Objects. Based on material culture from the Museum’s collection, the lessons in this national curriculum challenge students to exercise critical thinking and inquiry-based learning skills while exploring the American Jewish experience. In the spirit of traditional Talmudic study, OpenBook invites students to approach the study of history in unexpected ways and connect what they learn to their own ideas, experiences, and passions. This open-ended process of discussion and discovery empowers students to see themselves in the larger story of American Jewish life and inspire a sense of pride and connection to their heritage.
In the image, teachers from the 2018 National Educators Institute, hosted by NMAJH every year, learned about hevruta and the OpenBook curriculum. 

Curriculum Overview 
Partnership Learning Overview 

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Sample Talmud Page Sample Talmud Page 2 Sample Talmud Page 3

Sample Talmud pages.
 See below for free
 downloadable lessons.




This page will be updated as more lessons are added. Each lesson download contains a Talmud Page, Teacher Guide, and Student Guide.

What Does Religious Liberty Look Like?

What does religious liberty mean and why is it important?

Focusing on the Museum's historic statue, Religious Liberty, this lesson explores the ideal, history, and limits of religious liberty in the United States.
Download "What does religious liberty look like?" Lesson


Jewish Life in Colonial America (1654-1776)

How do we create a vibrant and sustainable community?

In this lesson, students explore the lives and experiences of Jewish immigrants who strove to create a new home — and a new American Jewish identity — in an unfamiliar land.
Download "Jewish Life in Colonial America" Lesson

American Jews and the Civil War (1861-1865)

How do we reconcile wrongdoings in our past?
Through Jewish support for the Confederacy this lesson asks students to address times when American Jews have been on what we now consider to be the wrong side of history.
Download "American Jews and the Civil War" Lesson

Jewish Immigration to the United States (1881-1924)

When have you been a "stranger"?

Discuss the era mass migration around the turn of the 20th century, when more than two million Jews came to the United States, in context of our contemporary immigrations and your students’ own experiences.

Download "Jewish Immigration to the United States" Lesson


Rose Schneiderman and the Labor Movement (1900S-1920s)

Why do people unite?
This lesson focuses on the development of the Jewish labor movement and encourage students to consider the relationship between individualism and political organizing in history and in our lives today.

Download "Rose Schneiderman and the Labor Movement" Lesson


American Jews and World War I (1917-1918)

What does patriotism mean to you?
The dramatic events of World War I unleashed forces of xenophobia and nativism that brought about fundamental changes in American attitudes toward immigrants that reverberated throughout the world and are still present in our lives today.

Download "American Jews and World War I" Lesson

American Responses to the Holocaust (1939-1945)

How do I respond to a crisis?
This lesson examines the choices and barriers American Jews faced as they confronted the devastation of war and the systemic murder of European Jewry.

Download "American Responses to the Holocaust" Lesson

The Civil Rights Movement (1950s-1960s)

Where are you "walking" and why?
This lesson explores Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights movement as well as the parallels and differences it unveiled in African Americans and Jews understandings of their experiences with persecution.

Download "The Civil Rights Movement" Lesson


What is the power of music? (1918-1990)

Developed in conjunction with our smash hit exhibition, Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music, this lesson lesson explores music as a means to express hope, mourn, and serve as a force for change through the life of Leonard Bernstein and other musicians.

Download "What is the power of music?" Lesson

The Movement to Free Soviet Jews (1960s-1991)

Are we responsible for others?
Students learn about one of the most successful human rights campaigns in recent history while considering their own abilities to create positive change in the world.

Download "The Movement to Free Soviet Jews" Lesson