Photo Credit: Jewish Press

In the course of my Jewish day school education, one of the first classes I ever found genuinely engaging was my seventh grade Prophets class. Susann Codish, who was both my teacher and the mother of my dear friend, Idit, infused our lessons about the rise and decline of prophets, kings, and generals with a drama and pathos that was electrifying. I still remember the giant pull-down map that hung at the front of the classroom. Seventh grade was the year after my bat mitzvah trip to Israel, and after class I would scour the map for landmarks I had visited myself and places where my path and the settings of my favorite stories in Judges and Samuel overlapped.

The events of the Tanach had never felt so close and so real to me, like time compressed, and I could see everything in my mind’s eye: the riverbeds and streams, sweeping hillsides, and rocky wilderness.


Teachers who bring Tanach to life – using topographical maps, dramatic renditions of the narrative, or whatever other magic of the classroom they wield – forge a special link between the stories of the Jewish people and the Land of the Israel in the minds and hearts of their students.


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Rachel Kohn is a freelance writer based in Chicago. Follow her on Twitter at @RachelKTweets and see more of her work at