Lesson Plan

The Roots of Anti-Judaism

Watch a video explaining the roots of anti-Judaism. Students will learn the prejudice Jews faced in ancient times and what myths originated during that time are still prevalent today. Open up into a discussion on how prejudice and discrimination can lead to oppression and violence.

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Enduring Understanding

A prevalent aspect of anti-Judaism, as with other forms of group oppression, is the use of placing blame when problems or unrest arise.

Essential Question

  • 1How does a group become the target of prejudice and discrimination? What can result from this?


5 Min

Brief students by explaining that they will be watching a video on anti-Judaism. Explain that many of the myths that they will hear in the video will be familiar to them, demonstrating the lasting impact they had on the world today.


30 Min

Play the video,The Ancient Roots of Anti-Judaism by Facing History and Ourselves. Right at the beginning, pause the video on the two questions that come up on the screen.

Open up into a brief class discussion trying to answer these questions. After they watch the video they will have an opportunity to build on their answers. Stop the video at the intervals below and ask the accompanying questions underneath.

Beginning – 3:27

  1. What does it mean to be a monotheist?
  2. What inconsistencies were pointed out about Jews being responsible for Jesus’ death?

Pause video at 7:50

  1. How did the image from John 8:44 of Jesus saying, “You are of your father, the devil” propel anti-Judaism?
  2. What does it mean that Jews were to be a “witness people”?
  3. What are blood libels? What did they represent?

Stop the video on the last frame to answer the questions on the screen.


20 Min

Begin a discussion about scapegoating and religious intolerance. Ask the class the questions below in an open discussion:

Start by reading this quote taken from the video to the class:

“Many of these myths speak to core emotions that animate people experiencing fear and anxiety…What causes the Black Plague? No idea. One stop shop answer? Well, poisoning by evil people committed to the destruction of your way of life — the Jews.”

  1. This idea of scapegoating, or placing blame, is a popular concept to not only provide an explanation for a problem, but also to unify a people against a common enemy. Can you think of any examples from the present day of groups being used as scapegoats?
  2. In the present day, what other forms of religious intolerance can be seen? In what ways can we as individuals combat prejudice and intolerance?

Return to the questions from the video (written again below) and ask students to add to their original answers.

  1. How does a group become a target of prejudice and discrimination?
  2. How can prejudice lead to oppression and violence?
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