Group Size: 10-50
Estimated Time: 45 minutes
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Goals: Identify the different components of the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament; Introduce the chanichim to some of the Prime Ministers who have goverened Israel.
- Peula “Forming a Coalition”
- Games – review the names of Prime Ministers and other aspects of the Knesset.
- Story: “She Fought for Peace” – the story of Golda Meir
Materials: Background information, peula outline, suggested games, story
I. Background Information
The Knesset is the governing body of Israel. The Israeli government does not work like the U.S. government. Israel has a parliamentary system, in which the people vote for political parties, not for individuals. In the Knesset there are 120 seat. So far in its history, no party has ever won an outright majority of the 61 seats, so each of the two largest parties, Labor and Likud, tries to form a coalition with some of the smaller parties. A coalition is a block of at least 61 votes from the various parties. This majority gives the coalition the right to govern.
II. Peula: Labor vs Likud
This peula is essentially a variation of Red Rover. Each team joins hands and the two teams face each other. One team is labor and other is Likud. The object is to get more people on your team so that you are the majority and can form a “coalition.” One team calls over a member of the opposition. If the calling team prevents the runner from breaking through the line they keep that player on their team. After each rond, no matter what the outcome, the other team gets to call, and play proceeds in the same manner until only one person is left on one team, or time is up.
After each rond, no matter what the outcome, the other team gets to call, and play proceeds in the same manner until only one person is left on one team, or time is up.
A. Prime Minister Switch. (a variation of Fruit Basket.)
Give each chanich a name of a Prime Minister:
David Ben Gurion Levi Eshkol Yitzchak Rabin Golda Meir
Menachem Begin Yitzchak Shamir Shimon Peres Ehud Barak
Binyamin Netanyahu Ariel Sharon Moshe Sharret
One chanich is in the middle of the circle. He calls the name of two (or more) Prime Ministers who must switch seats while he tries to get a seat. If he calls out ELECTIONS everyone must switch.
- Mock Debate
Give two chanichim a topic – one is pro and the other is con. Have them debate their topic by giving speeches. The Kvutza then vote who wins. Use funny or obscure topics to make the game more interesting (ie. Whether or not the moon is made of cheese, if mars would need a sewer system.)
C. Another game you can play: Give a chanich a topic and see how long he can talk about it without saying “um”, “like” or other similar words.
IV. Story: She Fought for Peace
The Story of Golda Meir (1898-1978)
Bang, Bang Bang….
Eight year old Golda blinked sleepily awake. Her father was hammering boards across the window, blocking out the blue, early morning light.
“Papa, why are you…” she began.
“Be quiet, Goldele,” he said, “and get dressed. Hurry!”
Her older sister helped her dress and hugged her tightly. Golda could fell her shivering. “It’s a pogrom,” her sister whispered.
When the house was nailed tight, the family huddled in the dark kitchen and waited. The pogrom sounds came close. Screams, the crash of breaking glass, shouts of “Kill the Jews-get the Christ killers!” And then the sounds moved past and were gone.
Soon after, Golda’s family left Russia, crossed the ocean, and settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But Golda never forgot that terrible morning. Fifteen years later, when she was twenty-three, she decided to go to Palestine to help build a Jewish homeland.
“But why?” asked her friends.
“Because we Jews must have our own land,” Golda said. “I am determined to save other little Jewish children from this kind of experience.”
In Palestine, Golda and her husband Morris joined a kibbutz – a collective farm where many members share the work. When the farm work became too hard for Morris, they moved to the city and Golda began to work for the Histadrut, a large labor union. Even though she had two young children, she found herself working long hours. “I know I won’t bring the Messiah,” she laughed at herself as she hurried from meeting to meeting, “but when jobs need to be done, I have to do them.”
Her most dangerous job came in 1948. It must have made her shiver with fear, just as she had during that long-ago pogrom. War was coming in 1948 between the new State of Israel and the Arab states on Israel’s borders. One Arab leader, King Abdullah of Jordan, had promised not to attack Israel. Somehow Golda had to reach Abdullah, deep in enemy territory, and find out if he would keep his promise.
Golda disguised herself in the loose dress and veil of an Arab woman. She drove across the border with an Arabic-speaking Israeli who carried false identity papers. Time after time they were stopped by Jordanian soldiers. Golda shrank deeper into her seat each time. If the soldiers spoke to her, they’d quickly discover that she couldn’t speak Arabic, and then she and her driver would be lost.
The trip was a success – they reached Abdullah. But it was also a failure – the king refused to promise peace. They made the dangerous trip back with sinking hearts, knowing that Israel would face attack from Jordan as well as from her other neighbors.
When Golda was seventy-five and Prime Minister of Israel, she faced a great crisis. In 1973 Israel’s Arab neighbors launched a surprise attack. The country was nearly cut in half before the army was able to rally and drive the enemy out. Many young Israelis were killed and wounded.
“How could the government be caught by surprise? They were asleep, stupid, careless!” people cried Golda left the Prime Minister’s office in disgrace. She was tired. It was time to go home and play with her grandchildren, bake cookies, visit friends. But she had a sad, unfinished feeling. Would there always be war, Golda wondered? Would her hope always be disappointed – that Jewish children have a safe home, free of attack?
In the last years of her life the hope grew strong again. Anwar al-Sadat, president of Egypt, who had been Israel’s archenemy, came to Israel to talk about making peace. Laughing and crying with joy, Golda shook his hand. “What took you so long?” she asked.
“When will the Arab-Jewish problem be solved?” a reporter asked Golda.
“When the Arabs love their children more than they hate us,” she answered.
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