Ergo’s Recommended Core Video Collection for Jewish schools


This is an annotated list of DVDs for educators and librarians who want to have a core library of fine DVD titles for use in Jewish education.

with annotations by Dr. Eric Goldman

<All DVD titles are linked>

Pre-K/Kindergarten & up! 


THE SECRET IN BUBBIE’S ATTIC (ages 4-11) Wonderful vignettes and songsEgalitarian. 

Use individual segments in classroom (e.g. for holiday teaching); Holidays include High Holidays, Sukkot & Hanukkah. Entire video can be used at home.


               Basic story that parallels Hanukkah story.  Recommended for “story hour.”  Light.

THE SABBATH (ages 4-11) All schools.

                Use only one film on the DVD at a time.  Four great short segments to introduce concept of Shabbat.


Songs and Fun for Nursery and Up! 

JINJA’S ISRAELI SAFARI (ages 2-11)  Great way to introduce various animals.  All schools.

                A unique video (to be shown 10-15 minutes at a time) with delightful Hebrew songs.

Grades 3-10 


LIGHTS (ages 7-11) All schools.

The classic imaginative animated video that addresses “the right of a Jew to be different… from a Greek…”

NEW YEAR’S LEAVE (ages 8 up)  All schools*

     Great way to introduce the New Year as well as Israel. Has a wonderful story with lots of  of “edutainment.” 

HANUKAH CELEBRATION (ages 8 up). All schools*.
                 Has a variety of interesting segments related to the holiday. Use segments (oil, Modiin,  etc.) to add to fuller understanding.

PASSOVER ADVENTURE (ages 8 up). All schools*.
                Though at points corny, this lighthearted DVD gives a nice overall feel for Pesach and    Israel.
Online study guide.

GRANDPA'S TREE (ages 8 up). All schools.
                This is about the only DVD that tackles the holiday, places the story in Israel and does a  fine job laying out information for students. Nicely done!
Online study guide.

ANIMATED BOOK OF ESTHER (ages 8-13). All schools

                A different way to augment teaching.  The reading is alternately mixed with simple Purim  mmm        fun/jesting.  Use 10 minutes at a time to “flavor” the holiday.

*ORTHODOX SCHOOLS: Males sometimes walk without head coverings.

Grades 5-12

THE EIGHTH DAY (ages 10 up) All schools.

                  A terrific Jewish identity trigger as well as another way to tackle the Hanukah period   ff   for older children.  Uses a story set in the time of the Maccabees to deal with assimilation- Hellenization.

 Grades 10-12

T.G.I. SHABBAT (ages 14 up). Reform & Conservative schools.

                  A videoplay which tackles some key questions about the Sabbath. This can be used to stimulate discussion on the meaning of Shabbat.


                  Finally, a full history of the Hasmonean revolt and the cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem. A new, more classroom-friendly DVD has been prepared to introduce the historical Hanukkah. This packs a great deal of information, so use of the segment that deals with the actual Maccabean victory is recommended in the classroom

THE FOUR SONS: A GUIDE TO PASSOVER (ages 14 up). Reform & Conservative schools.

                  A videoplay which provides an introduction to the Passover seder. A creative teacher can use individual segments from this DVD to get at some of the key elements of the haggadah.

Pre-K to Grade 3

Hebrew Reading

HOW TO READ HEBREW…AND LOVE IT (ages 8 up). All schools.

                  A great way to augment phonetic teaching of Hebrew.  Use for “pull-out” or send home with child.  Also use 5-10 minutes at a time in classroom. This can also be terrific for teaching an adult how to read.

ALLO, ALLO, ALEPH…AND LOVE IT (ages 2-5). All schools.

                  A DVD for toddlers that teaches Hebrew through the immersion method. This is not for every educator, but it does provide a nice intro to the shapes and sounds of the aleph-bet.


Grades 5-12

Customs and Ceremonies/Rites of Passage


THE EIGHTH DAY (ages 10 up). All schools.

                  A terrific Jewish identity trigger as well as another way to tackle the Hanukah period for older children. The story brings in circumcision as a family of Jewish rebels from the time of the Maccabees flees the Seleucid Greeks. Don they have a brit, if it will put the family in danger ?


THE DISCOVERY (ages 10 up). Reform & Conservative schools.

                  A provocative way to stimulate discussion by Bar/Bat Mitzvah age children on the meaning of the rite of passage. Good also with parents.

THE JOURNEY (ages 10 up). All schools.

                   Set in 20th century, to be used as Jewish identity trigger as well as a means to generate discussion on meaning of Bar Mitzvah. The story is placed in the former Soviet Union and provides a nice introduction to the Soviet Jewry movement.

BAR MITZVAH IN ISRAEL (ages 10 up). All schools.

                    A look at Israeli youth.  Classroom: Best to use only latter part of video for flavor of Israeli Bar Mitzvah. 


SEAL UPON THY HEART (ages 12 up). Conservative-Orthodox schools.

                   A wonderful look from Halachic standpoint.  Though dress and hair styles date this video, it still provides excellent breakdown of ceremony. Rabbi Maurice Lamm provides background.


THE CORRIDOR (ages 12 up). All schools.

                    Set at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, this tackles the question of death through a story of an individual who has an "out of body" experience. This requires a skilled teacher who is ready to challenge students with this Science Fiction-style film, made to stimulate thought and discussion.

Grades 5-12

Torah/Religious Articles

FOR OUT OF ZION (ages 10 up). Reform & Conservative schools.

                   Introduces students to the Torah, the scribe, the “sofer,” and how the Torah is written. Short of bringing in a sofer, this is a good way to introduce how the Torah is written.

WRAPPED: THE HOW AND WHY OF TALLIT & TEFILLIN (ages 10 up). All schools.

                   Introduces students to Tallit & Tefillin. Good "how-to" to wear, as well as providing a good background. Of particular interest is the insight provided by a Sephardic rabbi who shows the difference between Ashkenazi & Sephardi tradition. There are both a traditional & egalitarian version.

THE PERFECT GIFT (ages 12 up). Reform & Conservative schools.

                  A great way to introduce and provide understanding for important items used in everyday Jewish life.  Use segments.


Grades 5-12

Bible- The Temple- Jerusalem

WAKE THE DAWN: THE STORY OF THE TEMPLE (ages 10 up). Conserv..-Orthodox schools.

                  Gives full overview of the Temple, its history and the manner in which the Priests/Levites were dressed and did their duties.  Great for Day Schools.

THE MISHKAN (ages 10 up). Conservative-Orthodox schools.

                  Gives full overview of the Mishkan, its history and the way it was constructed. This truly provides a great animated introduction to the Mishkan. Great for Day Schools.

AMATZIA: THE BAR KOCHBA CAVES (ages 12 up). All schools.

                   Short enough to make this usable for an introduction to Biblical archaeology as well as usable for Lag B’Omer.

THE ENIGMA OF THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS (ages 12 up). All schools.

                   With much attention again being placed on the Dead Sea Scrolls, this DVD does a fine job providing an introduction.

HEROD: THE BUILDER KING (ages 14 up). All schools.

                   Quite usable for an introduction to Biblical archaeology as well as the time of Jesus, if you are dealing with the beginning of Christianity

JERUSALEM: SOUL OF A PEOPLE (ages 12 up). All schools.

                   An overview of Jerusalem’s history, from King David’s times thru today.  Great for Yom Yerushalayim!

JERUSALEM POTPOURRI (ages 8 up). All schools.

                   Assemblage of short vignettes about a variety of Jerusalem’s sites. Use one segment for a younger class; show several or entire program for older children.

MELODIES OF JERUSALEM (ages 12 up). All schools.

                  Why not teach Jerusalem through some of its most famous songs.  Choose a few songs and give a different perspective on things. Orthodox schools: Performer sings “sleeveless.”

Grades 5-12


ISRAEL: NEVER A DULL MOMENT (ages 10 up). All schools.

                    Too long to show in its entirety for young children, but it provides great chronological history. Only goes thru 1988, but still worthwhile.

IMPRESSIONS OF ISRAEL (ages 8 up). All schools.

                   About the best there is (still not excellent) for giving children a visual sense of how Israel looks. Contain “beach” scenes that may not be appropriate for all schools. You may wish to combine this with a few carefully chosen YouTube videos.

ADVENTURE TRAVEL IN ISRAEL (age 10 up). All schools.

                     Creative teachers take segments (day for a dig, rock climbing, etc.) to further an understanding of how Israel is special, yet like any other country.

KIBBUTZ (ages 10 up). All schools.

                     An introduction to the kibbutz. This video captures that flavor that makes kibbutz special as an Israeli institution, like no other in the world. Note that the entire nature of today's kibbutz is different. Many kibbutzim now have industry and have changed ideology.. Still, this provides a good foundation.

SING ALONG WITH ISRAEL (ages 12 up). All schools.

                      Add music to your introduction to Israel by meshing the music program with your teaching of Israel. Well produced!


Grades 3 up




                      A short introduction to the Holocaust focusing in on Yad VaShem and the children.  Effectively ties in present-day bigotry.

ANOTHER STORY (ages 7 up). All schools.

                     This 15 minute film does a great job tackling the issue of discrimination and racial profiling. An excellent introduction to prejudice.

THE WORLD OF ANNE FRANK (ages 10 up). All schools.

                     A nicely done video on Anne Frank that incorporates history, interviews and dramatization.  Wait until age 12 unless used within curriculum.


 Grades 6-12

Eastern Europe/Shtetl/Yiddish


THE JEWS OF POLAND (ages 12 up). All schools.

                     Use one (of five) ten minute film to show a vibrant pre-war Jewish Poland.  Worth doing just to give visual sense of period.  Also use video segments of shtetl life from IMAGE BEFORE MY EYES


WHEN OUR BUBBAS AND ZEYDAS WERE YOUNG (ages 10 up). All schools.

                     Use one or two of the beautiful segments to introduce the richness of Yiddish language and culture and the breadth of Eastern European Jewish life prior to the Shoah.

TEVYE DER MILKHIKER (Tevye the Milkman) (ages 12 up). All schools.

                     Screen 5 to 8 minutes from this Yiddish classic movie. It could be the scene when Tevye pleads with the priest to "Free" his daughter Khave or when he is sitting shiva because she has intermarried. Discuss Eastern European Jewish life and the differences with Jewish life in America today.


Grades 6-12

American Jewry


JEWISH-AMERICAN PATRIOTS (ages 10 up). All schools.

                   The video that you’ve been waiting for- An introduction to America’s most notable Jews in our history.

WEST OF HESTER STREET (ages 12 up). All schools.

                  Though an hour long (often too long for younger grades) this blends drama and history effectively.  Deals with Jews being ashamed of new immigrant Jews and the famous "Galveston Plan."

HOW TO TRACE YOUR JEWISH ROOTS (ages 12 up). All schools.

                 Some creative teachers have added genealogy to their teaching of American Jewry.  Many successes using this for middle school.


Grades 6-12

Jewish History



                          This delightful animated short relates the travels of Benjamin and he sought out Jews across the world. A wonderfully brief way to present the status of world Jewry as dispersed through the ages.



                          Provides an understanding of the expulsion from Spain and Inquisition.  Two nice and short videos in one. Show only one a session.



                         Use each (of three) ten minute film to provide overview of the “richness” of each of these important communities. Show only one a session.



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