Periphery is a photographic and film exhibition created in partnership by No Silence on Race (NSOR) and the Ontario Jewish Archives (OJA). Periphery is a short film about ethnic diversity in the Jewish community in Toronto, Canada. Sharing narratives from individuals of multiracial and multiethnic backgrounds, Periphery creates space to look, listen, and learn from participants as they share their experiences and explore ideas of representation, intersectionality, ethnicity, race, and sexuality. Periphery invites us to appreciate the richness of Jewish identity and cultural expression while illustrating the feeling of grappling to belong. The film and portraits draw our attention inwards and invites us to examine how we foster and support a broader and richer view of the Jewish community.
The Periphery Curriculum is an extension of Periphery, drawing on the photographs, interviews, and film to create, workshop, and disseminate curriculum guides for grades 8-12 within the Jewish and public school systems, as well as content suitable for distribution within the general Jewish and non-Jewish populations across Canada and the United States. Through learning about Jewish communities in Canada, students will explore their own identities and engage in dialogue about the complexities of identity and belonging while deconstructing stereotypical tropes associated with Jewish people.
No Silence on Race is a non-profit dedicated to building Jewish communities by and for Jews of Colour in Canada through arts, culture, education and advocacy. Connect with us at www.nosilenceonrace.ca
The Ontario Jewish Archives (OJA) is the largest repository of Jewish life in Canada. Through exhibitions, programs, research assistance, and walking tours, the OJA tells the stories of Ontario’s Jewish community. You can find us online at www.ontariojewisharchives.org
Facing History and Ourselves uses lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate. Our unique approach integrates civics, equity, and social-emotional learning with core academic content to help middle and high school educators lead and engage students in rigorous explorations of diverse topics including identity, prejudice, racism, history, legacy, and current events.
Facing History is pleased to be a partner on this project and act as consultants on the development of this curriculum.
Periphery is a short film about Jewish people in Canada with multi-ethnic heritage. Through dance, poetry, and personal narratives, 10 Jews of Black/African, Korean, Iraqi, Indian, and South American ancestry challenge perceptions of who is a Jew and on achieving racial equity in Jewish community spaces.
If you are seeking to host a screening of Periphery, The Extended Series, for your Jewish community group, congregation, social action committee, board of directors, interfaith meet-up, holiday or event of any nature, the following is a screening guide to help support dialogue with your group and end with actionable outcomes for where you’d like to take this work next.
Before beginning this session, write out a list of objectives for the group and consider having everyone participate in devising these objectives. Some ideas are to:
Topics this program explores: Identity, ethnicity, belonging, recognition, acceptance, poetry, dance, antisemitism, social justice and civic engagement
If you are teaching this session in an online format, consider engaging the online room by encouraging participants to post comments in the chat (or tools such as Google Jamboard, Padlet & Mentimeter) about words or phrases that come up in the segment that they are curious about. It may be advisable to establish parameters around the kinds of comments that are appropriate when learning about cultures outside of our own. The intention of this exercise is to get students actively engaging with media content. You will find worksheets at the end of the package to complete this activity in person.
Depending on how much time you have to facilitate this session, select a topic(s) you would like to explore in greater depth and consider having participants watch specific clips and engage with the connected prompts. Each set indicates how long the video and prompt will require. You can also engage with these prompts without watching the videos if your group opts to watch the entire documentary.
5 min: Personal reflection by writing
5 min: Speak to someone next to you about your reflections
5 min: 1-3 people share new insights, questions
What is your story? If someone were to interview you and ask you about your upbringing and culture, what would you say?
Pair participants off and have them interview each other (9 minutes).
Consider the following instructions for interviews:
Take a minute to look at each interview sheet that has been created for you.
Reflect on what differs between the way you described your story and the way it was recorded. Did you feel heard and understood? What was surprising and unsurprising about this activity? (3 minutes)
Large group discussion: A few volunteers share (5 minutes)
Whose opinions matter in your life and are most important to how you see yourself and understand your identity? Consider this question as you watch Sarah’s video.
As an Ethiopian Jewish woman, Sarah has experienced people challenging the legitimacy of her Jewish identity.
What aspects of your identity are visible to others and what aspects are invisible? Complete the corresponding handout or this chart by including all aspects of your identity that feel relevant to you (i.e., Jewish, hidden: I have an invisible disability that I don’t talk about it).
Explore beneath the iceberg, why are these attributes invisible? What would happen if they became visible? How would they change or not change what people see or think about you?
In this clip, Tema shares more about her identity and the complexities she experiences as a Jewish community professional in the Jewish community when people assume she is of solely Ashkenazi heritage and non-mixed race. Tema shares that people will say things to her that they would never say if a Black person were in the room. In these moments, Tema feels completely unseen and invisibilized.
Let’s address conversion. What are some of the harmful assumptions and rhetoric that exist about people who convert to Judaism within our community?
What does Periphery mean? Before watching clips from Periphery, write your own definition of this word which you will revisit after viewing the film. (5-10 min)
After watching the film, how does your definition of Periphery change?
What does Periphery mean? Before watching clips from Periphery, write your own definition of this word which you will revisit after viewing the film.
In the film, Fabio talks about experiencing a lot of fear in Brazil as a child and in his youth. Fabio says he was: Afraid of people, afraid to enter stores, ask for services, afraid to walk in the streets. Fabio further states that this put him in a place of constant self-protection.
In this clip, Ariella Daniels talks about having two uncomfortable conversations with her parents about the antisemitism she may experience outside of the Jewish community and about being a person of colour within the Jewish community.
Canadian Anthropologist, Wade Davis shares: “Every culture has a unique answer to a fundamental question: what does it mean to be human and alive? And when the people of the world answer that question they do so in those 7,000 different voices of humanity. And those voices and those answers collectively become our human repertoire for dealing with the challenges we’ll confront in the coming centuries.”
Consider using the Big Paper Teaching Strategy to explore this quote in depth. (7 minutes)
Goal: To use Jewish text to integrate the lessons about diversity in the film/video clips.
Consider using the Big Paper Teaching Strategy to explore these quotes in depth: (12 minutes)
And this serves to tell of the greatness of the Holy One, Blessed be He, as when a person stamps several coins with one seal, they are all similar to each other. But the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He, stamped all people with the seal of the first human, as all of them are his offspring, and not one of them is similar to another.
This passage allows us to explore the distinction between equality and equity. The coin has equal value because they are identical; but, when g-d creates all people he uses the same mold. Each person is inherently different which makes them unique and equal because they are made from the same mold. Do things have to be identical to be of the same value? Can we learn to see people as having equal value because they are different?
Rabbi Yose ben Judah a man of Kfar Ha-babli said: He who learns from the young, to what is he compared? To one who eats unripe grapes, and drinks wine from his vat; And he who learns from the old, to what is he compared? To one who eats ripe grapes, and drinks old wine. Rabbi said: don’t look at the container but at that which is in it: there is a new container full of old wine, and an old [container] in which there is not even new [wine].
This passage invites us to look beyond our visible identities and physical appearance of people and remind ourselves about what is inside each individual. Working beyond Jewish text, let’s explore our own responsibility in our everyday life. We can connect this to MLK and his reference to judging people by the content of their character (“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”).