A Purim Lesson: Courage in the Face of Anti-Semitism

Written by Behrman House Staff, 08 of March, 2017

Abby Mudd walked nervously to the front of the class, her heart beating so fast and loud that it felt as if the other students could hear it pounding in her chest. The Massachusetts tenth-grader feared speaking out, but after seven months of enduring antisemitic slurs, she knew she couldn't stay silent. Abby took a deep breath. "I never understood how difficult it could be to be a minority until I came to school here," Abby said, addressing a group of 11th and 12th graders.

From day one at her new school, Abby witnessed racism and antisemitism. Swastikas were etched on desks and in textbooks; students made racist remarks openly in class; and some of her classmates even participated in a neo-Nazi group. "What they were doing was so humanly wrong that it made me sick to my stomach," says Abby. Rather than leave the school, Abby courageously returned each day, even challenging classmates when they made racist insults. 

This true story forms the basis of the teacher resource Abby Mudd: Standing Up to Anti-Semitism. Complete with a full lesson plan, source sheet, student worksheet, and optional Hebrew article, students can compare Abby Mudd's heroism to the model of courage exemplified by Queen Esther. Students will consider what each young woman had to gain and lose by taking a stand. Students will also practice speaking up against acts of racism and antisemitism.

Click the image to download the complete lesson plan.

In the aftermath of the recent acts of anti-Semitism and threats against schools and JCCs across the country, how can educators give children and teens the tools to understand what has happened and take steps to challenge hate in safe and effective ways?

Read "5 Tips for Talking with Children," put out by the Anti-Defamation League to help educators respond to threats, violence, terrorism or other incidents of hate.