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 Jewish communities in Canada, students will explore their own identities and engage in dialogue about ethnic diversity in the Jewish community, the complexities of identity and belonging while deconstructing Ashkenormativity.
In addition to the lessons found in this package, 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. These resources reflect the critical analysis process outlined in the Ontario curriculum. (See: The Critical Analysis Process)
B3.1 Describe how creating, presenting, and analyzing a variety of art works has affected their personal values and their awareness of the values of their community and culture and those of other cultures
B3.2 Demonstrate an understanding of how exploring the arts has affected their perception and understanding of Canadian identity
B.1.1 Identify and describe their initial responses to media art works using various strategies and modes of communication
B1.2 Identify and describe, on the basis of exploration, the aesthetic and technical features of a contemporary media art work, and describe how the artist has combined these features to create a unified work
B1.3 Use the critical analysis process to assess the effectiveness of media art works in communicating a message or expressing an emotion, and describe how their assessment of the works has evolved throughout the critical analysis process
B2.3 Identify and describe ways in which media art works can influence community or societal values
B2.5 Describe how the process of critically analysing media art works has affected their understanding of the values of other cultures and communities
B.2.3 Identify and describe ways in which creating and/or analysing art works has affected their personal identity and values (e.g., with reference to their self-concept, their awareness of stereotypes, their approach to fashion, their attitudes towards objects associated with particular cultural groups, their ability to express their emotions)
1.8 Oral communication (Grade 9) Identify the perspectives and/or biases evident in simple oral texts and some teacher-selected complex texts and comment on any questions they may raise about beliefs, values, and identity
(Grade 10) Identify and analyse the perspectives and/or biases evident in texts, including increasingly complex texts, and comment on any questions they may raise about beliefs, values, identity, and power
C2.2 Identify and describe ways in which choreographers and performers use or have used dance to address social and environmental issues (e.g., identify issues raised in Danny Grossman’s 1981 work Endangered Species and discuss their relevance to society today; describe how Isabel Croxatto’s Revolution of the Butterflies highlights the urgent need to protect and restore the environment)
At the end of these lessons students will:
Themes & 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.
What is your story? If someone were to interview you and ask you about your upbringing and culture, what would you say?
Pair students off and have them interview each other (practicing active listening).
Consider the following instructions for interviews:
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?
What aspects of your identity are visible to others and what aspects are invisible? Complete the corresponding worksheet 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, I am extremely shy but work hard to be an extrovert, one of my close family members has been very sick but 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?
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 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 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.”
Culminating Prompts & Activities (20-25 minutes)
Curriculum Topics: Jewish Studies, Integrated Arts, English, Media Arts
Pirke Avot 4
הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, אַל תְּהִי בָז לְכָל אָדָם, וְאַל תְּהִי מַפְלִיג לְכָל דָּבָר, שֶׁאֵין לְךָ אָדָם שֶׁאֵין לוֹ שָׁעָה וְאֵין לְךָ דָבָר שֶׁאֵין לוֹ מָקוֹם:
He used to say: do not despise any man, and do not discriminate against anything, for there is no man that has not his hour, and there is no thing that has not its place.
“It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.” (Pirkei Avot 2:16)
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