The Generations Project

“Am HaZikaron” in cooperation with “Genesis Philanthropy Group” develops and produces the educational project “Generations” for the participants of the Birthright Israel program. This is a two-hour workshop that involves the participants in the theatrical action, during which the participants learn about the origin of their own family in the background of the events of the Jewish history. Since 2008 more than fifteen thousand people took part in these seminars. The results of the monitoring carried out by the Henrietta Szold Institute (Israeli national Institute for Research in the Behavioral Sciences) indicate that the “Generations” significantly influence the Jewish self-identification of young participants of the program. According to these results the “Generations” workshop takes the second place in its impact on the Jewish self-identification of the Birthright Israel trip’s participants after the memorial complex Yad Vashem.

The Project is a unique interactive educational workshop worked out and implemented by the Am HaZikaron Institute with the support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group. The workshop immerses young Jews into the atmosphere of the history of our Nation to let them experience this history vividly and feel personal connection to the destiny of the Jewish People. The personal appeal is achieved by telling more about the origins and the history of the participants’ own families. Today the workshop participants are mainly young people who visit Israel within Taglit-Birthright program.

During the workshop, step by step, the participants are introduced to the most significant and interesting historical events and personalities of the Jewish history. Our guides lead the participants from the most tragic episode of the destruction of the Second Temple to the prosperous and magnificently educated Babylonian Era, then to the events of the Golden Age of Jewish culture in Spain and the subsequent expulsion, further to the complicated history of the European and Russian Jews, and finally – to the foundation of Israel and the Jewish life in it. When passing through the expositions of these historical events, the participants discover that Jews involved in those events are not abstract historical figures but their own ancestors and members of their own families. The culmination of the workshop is the distribution of personal family origin certificates providing information on the meaning and the origin of the participants’ names and, if available, giving brief history and original historical documents related to the participants’ families.

This powerful, emotional and intellectual experience encourages the participants’ further interest in Jews and Judaism. Part of the participants are moved strongly and they start their own family history investigation. The project’s impact on the strengthening of the participant’s Jewish self-identification can hardly be overestimated. The pride young people take in their personal and national past gives them stronger sense of belonging to the Jewish People in general and to the local Jewish community in particular.