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.
This guide provides material to prepare students to watch clips from Periphery, The Extended Series as well as materials to explore key themes in greater depth. Through learning about ethnic diversity within Jewish communities in Canada, students will explore their own identities and engage in dialogue about the complexities of identity and belonging while deconstructing and reconstructing ideas of who is a Jew.
In addition to the lessons found on this website, we have also included a teacher’s guide entitled Intro to Judaism, the worksheets required for the pre/post screening activities, and a glossary of terms to equip both teachers and students with the correct language to engage in dialogue and learn about the Jewish community. These can be found as downloadable pdfs alongside the curriculum.
*In addition to these connections, our pedagogy is rooted from a culturally responsive lens. Our focus is to utilize students’ understanding of their identities as a foundation for critical understanding to learn about diversity, race, ethnicity and identity to facilitate responsible citizenship.
1.6 Extend understanding of oral texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting, comparing, and contrasting the ideas and information in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights; to other texts, including print and visual texts; and to the world around them
1.2 Interpret increasingly complex or difficult media texts, using overt and implied messages as evidence for their interpretations
1.3 Evaluate the effectiveness of the presentation and treatment of ideas, information, themes, opinions, issues, and/or experiences in media texts
1.4 Explain why different audiences (e.g., with respect to gender, age, culture, race, income level) might have different responses to a variety of media texts
1.5 Demonstrate understanding that different media texts reflect different points of view and that some texts reflect multiple points of view
2.2 Identify the conventions and techniques used in a variety of media forms and explain how they help convey meaning and influence or engage the audience
D 2.1 Interpret a variety of art works and identify the feelings, issues, themes, and social concerns that they convey
At the end of these activities and screening, students will:
Topics this lesson explores: Identity, ethnicity, belonging, recognition, acceptance, dance, spoken word, antisemitism, social justice and civic engagement
If you are teaching this unit in an online format, consider engaging the online room by encouraging students to post comments in the chat (jamboard, 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.
Depending on how much time you have to teach this lesson, select a topic(s) you would like to explore in greater depth and have students watch specific clips and engage with the connected prompts. Each set indicates how long the video and prompt will require.
How do you describe your identity? Using the identity wheel, include as many aspects of your identity that are most meaningful to you. Examples (religion, ethnicity, geography, languages spoken, hobbies/activities, dreams/aspirations).
This exercise can be completed both before and after screening Hyphenated Identities
Belonging is something we all grapple with over the course of our lives. We seek a sense of belonging across racial identity, cultural, gender, language, orientation and many other identity factors. Consider whether this activity should be done privately in a journal or collectively as a class on paper, a board or Google Jamboard if you are facilitating online:
Revisit this question after screening the film. How did their responses to these prompts change as they heard from the interviewees in Periphery? How did it expand their thinking of belonging and the importance of belonging?
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.
At the beginning of the film, Maxine talks about how her Jewishness is curious and persistent. She asks a series of rhetorical questions about her Jewishness at the time the documentary was filmed: Can I say I am Jewish? When can I say I am Jewish? Is it ever okay for me to say I am Jewish before I complete conversion even if I am functioning very Jewishly in my day-to-day life?
What does Periphery mean? Before watching clips from Periphery, develop a working definition of this word which you will revisit after viewing the film. (5 minutes)
After watching the film, how does your definition of Periphery change?
As a class, brainstorm a new definition collectively that encompasses as many students’ POV. (15 minutes)
In this video Ariella talks about her Jewish identity and her family history. Ariella says, being a Jew is–can represent many things. It represents my cultural identity, my religious identity, my national identity. The lens that I look at the world is through being Jewish. Whether that’s watching a film, or speaking to another person, that is the perspective that I have and that’s the way I live my life.
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.
Culminating Prompts & Discussion (20-25 minutes)
“It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.” (Pirkei Avot 2:16)
This text helps us understand that although we may not ever know everything there is to know about the world and about each other, this does not mean that we do not have a responsibility to understand each other as Jewish people and otherwise. Whether this means appreciating and learning about different Jewish practices, traditions, ethnic and cultural customs, this text challenges us to take responsibility for our own knowledge and practice kindness and curiosity towards each other.
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