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Movies for Learners of All Ages
By Leah Wittenberg, Lawrence Magdovitz ISJL Education Fellow
Our first grade students can benefit from videos in the classroom just as much as high school students, or even adults! The trick is to choose the right movies and the best methods of using them as a teaching tool.
Choose the age you teach and learn what videos are best for your students of all ages! (These age ranges are estimates! Use your discretion.)
Preschool (0-5 years old)
Shalom Sesame is a great resource to use for your youngest learners. The YouTube channel has a plethora of cute video clips, including shorts about Hebrew letters, numbers, and Hebrew words of the day. And, Shalom Sesame doesn’t just help reinforce the Hebrew language—Judaic content is explored in fun ways. Your favorite Muppets like Elmo, Bert & Ernie, and Cookie Monster teach everything from Jewish values like being kind to animals to information about Jewish holidays and traditions! Seeing familiar “secular” faces in a Jewish setting is a great resource for children this age. If you’re looking for something longer, try out the movie, “Shalom Sesame - Welcome to Israel” and let Grover introduce the concept of Israel to your students.
Elementary School (6-10 years old)
It’s never too early to start learning about the weekly Torah portion! Sometimes, Torah stories can be difficult for elementary school children to comprehend. Luckily, there is a video service that makes it easier for younger students to connect to the Torah portions: BimBam. Formerly known as “G-dcast,” BimBam offers even more than just videos about Torah stories. You can find instructional Hebrew videos and resources for parenting. One of the best things about BimBam is that it’s a resource to help you tackle difficult topics; it is a great way to introduce adoption, divorce, and mourning rituals (to name a few). Short videos about these complicated topics can help spark conversations with your elementary schoolers.
Middle School (11-13 years old)
At this age, it’s all about the parody videos! Luckily, the ISJL had a feeling this would happen, and we have some great resources. If your students are “Swifties,” show them this video that parodies Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” for Sukkot! If you’re looking for a way to introduce the idea of a genizah, start this video at 7:50 and have your students watch it through the end. The genizah is connected to death in the Jewish lifecycle, and similarly can be a good learning tool for children of this age struggling with loss. And if you’re teaching about Southern Jewish History, you’ll want to check out our cartoon series about a squirrel in religious school (yes, you read that correctly). Part one is on Savannah, Georgia, while the second episode focuses on New Orleans, Louisiana, the third covers Galveston, Texas, and the final episode is about Montgomery, Alabama. You can find even more educational videos for use in class on our YouTube channel.
High School (14-17 years old)
High schoolers will appreciate the quality of the videos found on JewTube. Exactly what it sounds like, JewTube is a media platform that posts videos with various perspectives of Judaism. Videos like “Voice of Jerusalem,” which uses 540 hours of videography compacted into a powerful and thought-provoking two minute video, demonstrate the religious and cultural diversity that exists in Israel. High school students will enjoy the videos on this site, but note that some of the content may be inappropriate. Be sure to screen any videos before showing them to everyone.
College/Young Adult (18-30 years old)
The Jewish version of TED Talks, ELI Talks is sure to have a video that will pique anyone in this age group’s interest. ELI stands for religious Engagement, Jewish Literacy, and Jewish Identity. These themes are perfect for the young adult age group, as they face these topics head on in this transitional period of life. Experts in their fields discuss topics that range from parenting to a modern take on halachah (Jewish law) to what the future of inclusion could look like for the Jewish community.