Who was Baruch Goldstein? Massacre in Hebron

This video tells the story of Baruch Goldstein and the Chevron Massacre, which shook the Jewish world in 1994, but which students today may not know about. Goldstein shocked Israeli society and Jews across the globe when he carried out a heinous act of terror during Muslim prayers. This video explores Goldstein’s background, the events that took place, the various reactions to them and the lasting implications.

Watch the video and use the prompts below to discuss this troubling topic with your students.

  1. Baruch Goldstein was born in:
    • Israel
    • U.S.
    • U.K.
    • Russia
  2. What was Goldstein’s profession?
    • Doctor
    • Lawyer
    • Politician
    • Army General
  3. Goldstein was a member of what political party?
    • Labour
    • Likud
    • Otzmah Yehudit
    • Kach
  4. Where did Goldstein carry out this attack?
  5. How did different groups react to the attack (Israeli government, Palestinians, religious Zionists)?
  1. Compared to Palestinian terrorism, acts of Jewish terrorism are much rarer. Should this impact how you view this episode? Why or why not?
  2. Although there’s no way to know what ultimately drove Goldstein to carry out this attack, an interesting question arises: Does knowing his motivation matter? Why or why not? Make a case for both sides.
  3. In light of what you know about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, do you view this event as atypical and in isolation, or is it something you would expect?
  4. President Ezer Weizman described this massacre as “The worst thing that has happened to us in the history of Zionism.” A Goldstein supporter eulogized Goldstein by saying, “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.” How do you understand the tension at play here?
  5. Different people and groups responded to the massacre in different ways. Which person or group’s reaction made the strongest impression on you, whether positively or negatively? Explain.
  6. A difficult question to consider in regard to Jewish terrorism is whether the Israeli government should destroy the perpetrator’s family’s home as it does to Palestinians’. This question was raised by the controversial HBO series Our Boys. What do you think? Should the Israeli government have the same policy for Palestinians and Jews when they perform acts of terror, or should it be different? Explain.
  1. Read the following quote by Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein famously said after Goldstein killing Muslim worshippers in the Cave of the Patriarchs.
    • “There should be a clear protest which expresses not just disassociation, but also disgust and shock. We must do so, not to protect our public image, but to preserve our self-image.”
    • In a written reflection, respond to the quote by answering the following questions:
    • What message do you think Rabbi Lichtenstein is trying to get across?
    • Do you agree or disagree with Rabbi Lichtenstein’s quote?
    • How would you respond if asked how the Jewish community should respond to the massacre in the Cave of the Patriarchs?
  2. After viewing this episode and reading Rabbi Lichtenstein’s debate with Rabbi Dov Lior, do you think Baruch Goldstein was entitled to a eulogy and proper burial as Rabbi Lior argues, or not? Debate!
  3. Engage your students in an experiential learning activity around the theme of Narrative, a theme found in the accompanying video.
  4. Give your students our Kahoot on Who was Baruch Goldstein!
  1. Chief Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said at the time: “Such an act is an obscenity and a travesty of Jewish values. That it should have been perpetrated against worshippers in a house of prayer at a holy time makes it a blasphemy as well… Violence is evil. Violence committed in the name of God is doubly evil. Violence against those engaged in worshipping God is unspeakably evil.” Why does the fact that Goldstein carried out this attack against worshippers make it more devastating? What do you consider sacred space in your life?
  2. If this was your first time hearing this story, what was your initial reaction? What feelings did such an episode evoke in you?
  3. While Jewish acts of terror are few and far between, they do occur from time to time. How does it make you feel when a fellow Jew carries out a heinous crime? Does it affect how you view Palestinian terror?
  4. After viewing this episode and reading Rabbi Lichtenstein’s debate with Rabbi Dov Lior, do you think Baruch Goldstein was entitled to a eulogy and proper burial as Rabbi Lior argues, or not?

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Experiential Learning is a proactive way to educate with a focus on reflection and can take place in any academic setting: day school, supplementary school, camp, youth group, synagogue, college campus or university. 

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