Giborim- Masada - גיבורים-מצדה

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Resource Type: Peula in: English
Age: 9-13
Group Size: 1-30
Estimated Time: 45 minutes

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Resource Goal

To teach about the heroism that occurred at Masada, and about the history of that event.

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Resource Contents

Topic: Giborim

Noseh: Masada

Written By: Robert Berl, Ushi Spiegelman

Goals: To teach about the heroism that occurred at Masada, and about the history of that event.

Materials: Ball

Background: Jewish history is filled with occasions of tremendous heroism, both large and small. The heroism of a woman in Siberia cutting a hole in the ice of a river to tovel may not affect many people, but it nonetheless is indicative of the vitality of Judaism. On the other hand there are many examples of large, well-known and dramatic gevura. We will deal with some of these in the upcoming month.

            This week we will be discussing Masada, one of the most famous of all. Even today, the motto of the IDF is “Masada shall not fall again.” Masada was a fortress in the desert south of Yerushalayim. Herod built it about 150 years before Bayit Sheni was destroyed. It was used as a base for Roman troops, but was captured by Jewish Zealots in 66 CE. Masada was the last stronghold that held out against the Roman army during The Great Revolt, which lasted from 66-73. Yerushalayim was captured in the year 70, but Masada withstood for three years under the leadership of Eleazar ben Yair, protecting about 1000 men, women and children. When at last there was no hope remaining for them, they chose to kill themselves rather than surrender to the Romans and be sold into slavery. Masada was excavated in 1963-5 by Yigal Yadin and is today a tourist attraction and national shrine in Israel.

Game 1: Newcom Serves

Divide the kvutza into two groups, and make a physical boundary between them (chairs or a table) to serve as the “net,” and set out of bounds lines. One team (team A) will perpetually be serving, while the other team (Team B) will always be trying to return. Team A takes turns serving. Team B tries to catch the ball each time. If they succeed in catching the ball, they give it back to Team A to try again. If someone drops the ball, that person is out. Team A continues to serve, either for a limited number of serves (for example, 20) or until everyone is out. Once their turn is finished, note how well they did (how many turns it took for them to eliminate everyone, or how many people they got out.) Then have the two teams switch roles, with Team B serving. Whichever team is more successful wins.

Discussion: The longer the game progresses, the harder it becomes, as there are less people to cover the field for the defenders. At the beginning of the Great Revolt, despite the size and power of the Roman army, it seemed like the Jews would have a shot at succeeding. However, the more the game progressed, the worse the odds became, until Yerushalayim fell and all that was left was Masada. Nonetheless they held out for over 2 years, but the situation was very desperate.


Game 2: The Blob

We’ve played this before, so no need to explain it again. It has the same message as the game above.


Game 3: Murder

One player is secretly chosen by the leader to be the murderer. He can kill any player by winking at him. If that player sees the wink, he must die very dramatically. The players try to identify the murderer without being murdered themselves. If a player thinks he knows who it is, he whispers to the leader that person’s identity. If he is right, he wins. But, if he is wrong, he too must die.

Discussion: The people remaining at Masada realized their situation was hopeless. They decided to die a heroic death rather than be sold into slavery. They chose ten people to kill all the others, and then to kill themselves.



Related Resources can be found under:

» All > History > The Second Temple

» All > Between Man and Himself > Gevura - heroizm

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