With Israel’s national elections just three weeks away, it’s time to get students thinking: Who would they vote for? What major issues are center stage in this election? Who are the different parties, and what are their platforms? How would they make informed decisions about future Israeli leaders?
In this week’s issue, we present an excellent mock election model based on an entry into the Kohelet Foundation prize for innovation in Jewish education. Sarah Gordon, of Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School, wrote a detailed lesson plan for engaging students in an Israeli election. While her project was on the Jerusalem Mayoral elections, we are extrapolating from that and providing you with an educational framework to do mock elections for the upcoming national contest.
By using this approach, your students will be able to be subjects of their own learning experience and have true agency in their understanding of the current electoral process. One of the primary goals in Jewish education is to ensure that your students are shareholders, not just ticket holders, and that they are knee deep in the act of learning, not just piggy banks to save information.
Before staging mock elections, students may need a refresher on how the Israeli electoral system works. Refer back to our earlier post for all the background you need. Also, see parts 1 and 2 of our election series here.
In addition to the myriad Israel news sites, many organizations have been monitoring the election developments and compiling information about the parties and politicians. They are useful background resources, and we recommend becoming familiar with them and sharing them with your students before moving on to the rest of this lesson. Here are a few top picks:
Mock Elections Process
- Student Inquiry – Have students write down any questions they have about the upcoming Israeli elections. This can be in a notebook or on large pieces of paper hanging on the wall.
- Student Survey – What campaign issues are your students most interested in learning about?
- Security/Israeli-Palestinian conflict
- Religion & State
- Agriculture & Environment
- Student Choice – Show students a few campaign ads from last week’s issue (or any others). Which party would they like to research? They should base their decisions on what they learned from the ads and the issues they chose in the previous step.
- Party Research – Divide the students into groups of 3 to represent different parties (based on request, as much as possible). Students can use the links above and any other reliable internet sources (guide them with Hebrew on Israeli sites). Each group should prepare:
- A one-page write-up on the party leader, including: name, personal and professional background, party platform, specific disagreements with other parties/candidates, picture and one campaign poster.
- A powerpoint presentation with the above information, for when they present.
- A real campaign ad of their choosing, together with an introduction and summary of what message the candidate is conveying and which voters s/he is targeting.
- A profile of an Israeli voter who would vote for this party/candidate.
- Presentations – Each student should take on a role within the group:
- Party leader: Prepares and delivers a speech about why voters should choose him/her.
- Campaign manager: Prepares talking points to convince students to vote for this party.
- Voter: Creates profile of a person (young, old, religious, non-religious, etc.) voting for this party and why.
Ideally, run through the presentation once in the classroom. Then have students present their parties to another group of students who will then vote based on what they have learned. The students can be a younger grade, another class, etc. Students should be dressed to play the part. After presenting to the listening group of students, take questions and/or mingle with them.
- Elections – The listening group votes in a “voting booth” using small slips of paper printed with the names of the parties. (You can also build a google form if it’s easier.) Tally the votes to determine the number of 120 Knesset seats each party won (by percentage). Although it doesn’t always work like this, assume that the leader of the party with the most Knesset seats will become prime minister! Announce the results to all students.
- Student Reflection – Ask students to share, either in the classroom or via a feedback form, what they experienced and learned from this activity. Include questions such as:
- What was something that surprised you about your party?
- What was something that surprised you about another party?
- What is something you learned about Israeli elections that you didn’t know before?
- What questions are you left with?
- Would you be interested in becoming involved in Israeli (or your country’s) politics?
- Do you think Israel’s citizens would ever all agree on one party? Why or why not?
- What is your most important takeaway from this project?