Toldot Yisrael: Documenting Israel's 1948 Generation

The Story of a Vote

Thanksgiving weekend 1947 was a turning point in modern Jewish history:

"…We sat in the car, Sharett, my husband and myself, from Lake Success back to Manhattan and nobody said a word… It was overpowering…"
-Suzy Eban

Enjoy a rare opportunity to be touched by history through the stories of those who were there.

 

  • Imagine you were in Suzy Eban's car and there was an actual conversation. What do you think they would have talked about?
  • There is a notion of "eyewitness to history." Have you ever been at any event or lived through any time where you felt as if you were an “eyewitness to history”? If so, what was the event and how did it make you feel?
  • Imagine that you were at the U.N. on November 29th. You are a diplomat from a country that voted for the partition, a country that abstained, and a country that voted against the partition. What do you imagine were the arguments for your position that you would make to your colleagues? (Simulation Activity for download below)
  • During the season of Chanukkah, we celebrate the legend of the oil lasting 8 days, the Chanukkah miracle. Many believe that the establishment of the State of Israel is a miracle as well. Do you agree? Why or why not? Have you ever experienced a miracle? Share your miracle with your class.

The Volunteers: Answering the Call of History

These videos from Toldot Yisrael depict the role of Machal, volunteers from abroad, in Israel's War of Independence. Listening to the volunteers telling their own stories provides students a unique perspective on the international Jewish community's involvement in the birth of the Jewish State. 

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin dedicated the memorial to Machal by saying:

"You came to us when we needed you most, during those difficult, uncertain days in our War of Independence. You gave us not only your experience, but your lives as well. The people of Israel and the State of Israel will never forget, and will always cherish, this unique contribution made by you – the volunteers of Machal."

In the critical years from 1946–1949, Jews (and some non-Jews) from around the world volunteered to help build and defend the State of Israel. Discreet efforts were made in the US and Europe to recruit manpower, acquire weapons and army surplus, and even airplanes and aircraft carriers. Experienced WWII veterans came to Palestine and formed the basis of Israel’s fledgling Air Force and Navy.

Toldot Yisrael's new movie, The Volunteers: Answering the Call of Historytells the stories of people like: Vidal Sassoon, who left a hairdressing apprenticeship in England to come fight in the Palmach; Yeshiva University Chancellor Norman Lamm, who volunteered in a bullet making factory in upstate New York; Harold Katz, who dropped out of Harvard Law School to help bring illegal immigrants to Palestine, and others who volunteered to help found the State of Israel.

A playlist of short clips:

 

  • Why were people volunteering to come to Israel in 1948?
  • Do you think the voluteers were frightened? Describe the different emotions that the volunteers may have experienced.
  • Did you related to any of the volunteers' stories? How? Did they remind you of anyone you know?
  • Can you imagine believing in a cause so deeply that you would drop everything and leave your home to help?

Yaffa Tevuah and Kever Rachel

These videos and stories also serve as inspiration for young people to discover their own connections to Israel by interviewing their parents, grandparents, friends and community members about their stories, memories and connections to Israel.

Watch these short clips and use the discussion questions during Yom Ha'atzmaut. Contact us for more information on how to create your own Toldot video project.

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