Ometz Lev (from the Hebrew word meaning courage) refers to acts of courage.
We see references to Ometz Lev throughout history, in children’s literature, fairy tales, and in many of the stories we read to our young children about Hanukkah, Purim, and Passover. We recount stories of outnumbered Maccabees fighting their enemies. We describe Queen Vashti and Queen Esther standing up to the king who wants to kill the Jews. At Passover we retell the story to our children about Moses standing up to Pharaoh who kept the Jews slaves and even tell about first born Hebrew children thrown in the river. Jewish values for children
These stories teach our children about our ancestors being courageous in the face of danger and overcoming fear. We often wonder though, about the value of sharing these stories that are filled with violence. Are we promoting unnecessary fear in our children who already live in a world filled with danger everywhere they look? Or will these stories help them to become courageous in their own lives? These may include everyday situations like sleeping in their own bed, separating from parents, or participating in activities for the first time. Jewish values for children
In recent years the suitability of violence in children’s stories has been strongly questioned. Experts do not agree on the value or consequence of reading stories containing violence to young children. What is clear is that it is essential to communicate to children that suffering is caused by violence. It is also essential to show children that there are courageous solutions to conflict other than violence. It is important to find books that discuss conflict and courageous solutions in ways that are meaningful to them in their lives. Jewish values for children
Children need to be aware of the realities of the world, both good and bad. Many experts argue that children’s literature that includes violence can be especially valuable when it teaches children how to cope with conflicts in their lives. Experts also believe that violence should have its place in children’s literature only if it truthfully reflects characteristics of the world that children should be aware of, no matter how much adults wish to protect them from it. Jewish values for children
Our lessons on Courage help young children to deal with the issues that directly affect them, like going to the doctor, riding a bike for the first time, learning to swim, etc. The children learn how to cope with their fears through puppets, songs, activities, and practice. They express their fears through drawings and listen to other children talk about the ways they use courage to cope with their fears.
The Mussar For Children Curriculum integrates Jewish values into the classroom and connects those values with activities completed at school and at home. Children learn through puppets, songs, activities, and practice. Teachers receive lesson plans, activities, book lists, and articles for school newsletters. Parents receive communication that explains the middah that their children are learning about, along with relevant book lists and activities that can be done at home to further reinforce the value. Jewish values for children
Mussar for Children: Jewish Values for Everyday Living was created by Michelle Princenthal in partnership with The Mussar Institute. It is the only values for children curriculum of its kind geared specifically for young children.
All materials and content are copyrighted.
©2013 Michelle Princenthal
©2015 The Mussar Institute
Jewish values for children