King David on Trial
Sixth graders concluded their Jewish Studies unit on David with the fourth annual Trial of King David. In this version of The State of Israel vs. David, son of Jesse, students argued whether Yetzer Hara (the evil impulse) or Yetzer Hatov (the good impulse) was more decisive in David's choices and actions in the biblical narrative (I Samuel 8 - I Kings 2). A panel of students served as the lawyers arguing the case, for the prosecution and defense. Other students played the witnesses - characters from the TaNaKH (the Hebrew Bible) who recounted their interactions with and impressions of David. Witnesses prepared their statements and answered the counsel’s questions based on the texts they had studied. Mr. Foote conducted the trial as judge, while a panel of 7th and 8th graders served as the jury and bailiffs.
Not only have these students mastered this piece of the biblical text, but they have also discussed, interpreted, and internalized the competing values that are presented in the stories of King David.