Last night, the 7th grade class traveled back in time to the Middle Ages to examine how antisemitism affected the lives of Jews in Europe. Luckily, the lesson coincided with the students' study of the Middle Ages in their Social Studies classes, so they were able to contribute a lot of knowledge to the discussion. It was interesting to approach the same time period from another perspective to see how different people experience history in different ways.
We first learned about the Crusades and read an account of the massacre of the Jews of Mainz, Germany at the hands of Crusaders. We then learned about the first blood libel and analyzed an illustration from a 15th century German history book that portrayed a group of Jews engaged in the ritual murder of a Christian child. The students were surprised to find several similarities between medieval and modern antisemitism, such as the yellow badges Jews were required to wear.
We then discussed the idea of scapegoating. The students wrote in their journals about people who often get blamed for problems in the U.S. today. We discovered that societies tend to blame outsiders or minorities when things go wrong. We then connected that concept to the Black Death in order to understand why Jews were blamed for spreading the Plague.
The 7th graders are beginning to identify patterns in the history of antisemitism and considering the ways in which we can prevent those patterns from recurring today. If you would like to learn more about this time period to continue the discussion at home, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum provides a succinct overview.
We are looking forward to moving ahead in history next week! Please feel free to contact us at ngold086@gmail or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Have a great week,
Naomi and Lisa