9th Grade Peulah For Niagra Falls Tiyul

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Resource Type: Peula in: Engels
Age: 13-15
Group Size: 10-100
Estimated Time: 90 minutes

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Resource Goal
To compare this situation with Herzls Uganda Program and to invoke thoughts and discussion on why the two attempts at making a Jewish State outside of Israel did not work and also to teach history while creating a greater understanding of the importance of Israel to us as a people.

Resource Contents

9th Grade Peulah for Niagara Falls Tiyul

Topic: While we are at Niagara Falls, we should take a look at history that happened not TOO long ago, and not too far away: Mordechai Manuel Noah and the purchase of land on Grand Island to create Ararat: a land of refuge for Jews suffering in Europe. An Israel in America.

Goals: To compare this situation with Herzls Uganda Program and to invoke thoughts and discussion on why the two attempts at making a Jewish State outside of Israel did not work and also to teach history while creating a greater understanding of the importance of Israel to us as a people.

Background Information: (source: Jewish Virtual Library www.us-Israel.org)

Mordecai Manuel Noah was the most influential Jew in the United States in the early 19th Century. He was an editor, journalist, playwright, politician, lawyer, court of appeals judge, New York Port surveyor, a major in the New York military and, foremost, an ardent utopian Zionist.

As an American and as a Jew, Noah was constantly looking for points where American and Jewish interests might intersect. In the early decades of the nineteenth century, America's greatest need was for immigrants. In his travels in Europe and Africa, Noah learned that Jews in the Old World desperately needed a haven for themselves and their children. To bring such Jews to a welcoming America would be a signal service to both.

In 1825, Noah helped purchase a tract of land on Grand Island in the Niagara River near Buffalo, where he envisioned a Jewish colony to be called Ararat.

The drama Noah staged in Buffalo on September 15, 1825, in dedicating Ararat as "A City of Refuge for the Jews," with men marching, band playing, and "Judge" Noah in regal vestments orating, was for both America and world Jewry. The pageant, the proclamation, and Noah's speech were intended to grab the attention of newspaper editors to whom description and text were sent. Accounts of the Ararat drama appeared in newspapers throughout the United States and in England, France, and Germany as well. The drama presented the Jews as the most desirable citizens a nation could want-able, ambitious, productive, and loyal; to the Jews of the Old World, it portrayed what kind of country America was for the Jews. Political dignitaries, leaders of society, and the general populace joined to celebrate the establishment of a city for Jews, while America's most prominent Jew proclaimed a Jewish state on American soil and welcomed his brethren to settle it.

One of the newspapers which published a full account of the proceedings was the National Intelligencer, Washington, D.C. In its September 29, 1825, issue it described the ceremonies attendant upon the laying of the cornerstone, with its Hebrew quotation and English inscription (the stone survives and is now in a museum on Grand Island) and Noah's address.

The project elicited interest and discussion, but it turned into a failure. After this disappointment, he realized that Palestine was the only answer for a homeland for Jews. He lectured and wrote on the need for such a homeland, expressing ideas that preceded those of Leo Pinsker and Theodor Herzl.

In his determined insistence on being part of America's political, social, and cultural life while at the same time participating in Jewish religious and communal life, Mordecai Manuel Noah demonstrated by example that in America a Jew could be both fully Jewish and fully American. As the first to do so publicly, dramatically, and successfully, Noah might well be called "The first American Jew." He was the best-known Jew in America when he died of a stroke in 1851.

Theodor Herzl sought support from the great powers for the creation of a Jewish homeland. He turned to Great Britain, and met with Joseph Chamberlain, the British colonial secretary and others. The British agreed, in principle, to Jewish settlement in East Africa "on conditions which will enable members to observe their national customs."

At the Sixth Zionist Congress at Basle on 26 August 1903, Herzl proposed the British Uganda Program as a temporary refuge for Jews in Russia in immediate danger. By a vote of 295-178 it was decided to send an expedition ("investigatory commission") to examine the territory proposed.

While Herzl made it clear that this program would not affect the ultimate aim of Zionism, a Jewish entity in the Land of Israel, the proposal aroused a storm at the Congress and nearly led to a split in the Zionist movement. The Jewish Territorialist Organization (ITO) was formed as a result of the unification of various groups who had supported Herzl's Uganda proposals during the period 1903 - 1905.

The Uganda Program was finally rejected by the Zionist movement at the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905, but Nahum Syrkin and Israel Zangwill called an alternative conference in order to continue the plan of the Uganda scheme.

Zangwill became the movement's undisputed leader. After the rejection of the Uganda scheme on the grounds of impracticability by the British, Zangwill turned his attention to settlement in Canada and Australia. But opposition from local residents led him to abandon the scheme. Expeditions were sent to Mesopotamia (Iraq), Cyrenaica (Libya) and Angola but little came of these expeditions.

A project that had some concrete success was the Galveston scheme which contemplated the settlement of Jews in the American Southwest, in particular in Texas. The project received the assistance of Jacob Schiff, the American Jewish banker, and some 9,300 Jews arrived in that area between 1907-1914, through the Emigration Bureau of the Territorialist organization.

With the publication of the Balfour Declaration, the ITO faced a severe crisis since many of its members came to the conclusion that Eretz Israel was not so utopian after all. The organization's failure was due to its inability to secure a definite project, and its lack of sensitivity toward the historic and traditional sentiments of Jewish identity.


Either give a brief synopsis of material (not recommended), or have kids take turns reading selected parts (recommended)

After a paragraph is read, have another kid explain what was just read

At the end, have one kid recapitulate all of the info in one or two sentences to convey the basic idea

Begin discussion

o What caused Mordechai Noah to want to purchase this land and create a land of refuge? From the countrys standpoint, what were the pluses and minuses of him doing so? From the Jews standpoint?

o Why do you think it failed? Is there anything you could think of that would have made it work?

o The source describes Noah as having proved that in America a Jew could be both fully Jewish and fully American. Do you think that is a true generalization? If so, do you think its still true today?

o Theodore Herzls Uganda Program was very similar to Noahs idea. What are some important similarities?

o What did Herzl make clear about the aims of the Uganda Program?

o The Uganda Program was created to give Jews who were suffering in Russia a chance to experience freedom and observe their national customs. Was this a viable temporary solution to the problems in Russia? What were the pluses and minuses?

o What does the source say that tells us the real reasons for the failure of both Noahs Grand Island plan and Herzls Uganda Program?

o How is Israel, from 1948 until today, different from the aforementioned attempts at creating Jewish states? What is in Israel that cannot be achieved, attained, or acquired anywhere else in the world?

Thats right! Israel is the one and only homeland for the Jews. Promised to us by Hashem, and kept ours by our soldiers. Is there any other place in the world for the Jews? Maybe temporarily, but in the long run we must understand that Israel is the only place Jews can survive and be protected unconditionally by the governing body. We cannot just sit around in Galut and wait for a magical Jewish return to Israel. We have to start now.

This raises the question: Why arent YOU there?

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