Say My Name, Say My Name

This is an experiential program that invites participants to learn about the geography of Israel through the names of its cities. As in Native American cultures, Hebrew names have meanings. The same is true of Israel's cities. Go on a journey through the identities and histories of Israel's cities. Just don't forget your passport!

Curriculum Themes: 

Materials Required: 

Program Duration: 

Physical Space: 

Number of Campers: 

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Core Learnings: 

City names in Israel
Map of Israel


Program Steps:

Everyone gets a piece of paper and instructions for folding it into a passport.
You will need to fill in the form on the 2nd page of your passport with provided pens.
8 ‘Mayors’ will be preselected (counselors? Older campers? Same age campers?) – each of these people will be given an ‘identity’. That identity comes with a slip of paper. Each slip of paper will include the name of a place in Israel and the etymology of that place’s name (etymology = derivative history of the name). Every ‘Mayor’ gets a marker of a different color and a simple shape they will make as their stamp.
These 8 people will be scattered around the room. The participants will be told to take a tour around the room, to learn about the different places in Israel and to ask for a detailed description of where they are located. They must then draw the places on the map on their passport’s last page without asking others for help. The goal is to collect all 8 ‘stamps’ from the 8 people and to finish with a ‘full’ map.
At the end, there will be one large piece of butcher paper or poster board on the wall and the facilitator will have drawn on it a LARGE blank map of Israel. Each person, once they have achieved all 8 stamps, should take a pen and put where they think each of the places they visited are in Israel. Everyone will be told that they should transcribe their maps exactly, even if it looks different than what someone else (or many someone elses) has already put on the master map.
Once everyone has finished, a 2nd map will be revealed, filled in with the true location of all the places in Israel (or the facilitator will place the places with a marker on the master map for everyone to see at the end.)
Everyone will now sit for a debrief. The facilitator will ask the questions that are on the back page of the passport.

What has changed about how you feel about places in Israel now?
What does a name say about a place?
What does “Yisrael” mean and how does that meaning impact our feeling about the place?
Do you feel differently about YOUR name now? If so, how?
What is your camp's name and how does that name relfect the camp and its mission?




Pens for every participant


8 markers

1 large piece of butcher paper/poster board



Place Cards In Use:


Tel Aviv

Yad Vashem

Dead Sea




Beer Sheva



A city called Rušalim in the Execration texts of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (c. 19th century BCE) is widely, but not universally, identified as Jerusalem.[24][25] Jerusalem is called Urušalim in the Amarna letters of Abdi-Heba (1330s BCE).[26]  The name "Jerusalem" is variously etymologized to mean "foundation (Sumerian yeru, 'settlement'/Semitic yry' 'to found, to lay a cornerstone') of the god Shalem",[27][28] the god Shalem was thus the original tutelary deity of the Bronze Age city.[29] The form Yerushalem or Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) first appears in the Bible, in the book of Joshua. According to a Midrash, the name is a combination of Yhwh Yir'eh ("God will see to it", the name given by Abraham to the place where he began to sacrifice his son) and the town "Shalem".[30] The earliest extra-biblical Hebrew writing of the word Jerusalem is dated to the sixth or seventh century BCE[31][32] and was discovered in Khirbet Beit Lei near Beit Guvrin in 1961. The inscription states: "I am Yahweh thy God, I will accept the cities of Judah and I will redeem Jerusalem",[33][34][35] or as other scholars suggest: "Yahweh is the God of the whole earth. The mountains of Judah belong to him, to the God of Jerusalem".[36][37]



Tel Aviv is the Hebrew title of Theodor Herzl's Altneuland ("Old New Land"), translated from German by Nahum Sokolow. Sokolow had adopted the name of a Mesopotamian site near the city of Babylon mentioned in Ezekiel: "Then I came to them of the captivity at Tel Abib, that lived by the river Chebar, and to where they lived; and I sat there overwhelmed among them seven days."[15] The name was chosen in 1910 from several suggestions, including "Herzliya". It was found fitting as it embraced the idea of a renaissance in the ancient Jewish homeland. Aviv is Hebrew for "spring", symbolizing renewal, and tel is a man-made mound accumulating layers of civilization built one over the other and symbolizing the ancient. Theories vary about the etymology of Jaffa or Yafo in Hebrew. Some believe that the name derives from yafah or yofi, Hebrew for "beautiful" or "beauty". Another tradition is that Japheth, son of Noah, founded the city and that it was named after him.[16]


There are several etymologies for the origin of the name "Beersheba": The oath of Abraham and Abimelech (well of the oath) is the one stated in Gen. 21:31. Others include the seven wells dug by Isaac (seven wells), though only three or four have been identified; the oath of Isaac and Abimelech (well of the oath in Gen. 26:33); the seven ewes that sealed Abraham and Abimelech's oath (well of the seven). Be'er is the Hebrew word for well; sheva could mean "seven" or "oath" (from the Hebrew word shvu'a). In this case the meaning is probably "oath", as the ancient Hebrews believed seven to be a lucky number, and the Hebrew "shvu'a" (to take an oath) literally means " to seven oneself".



The modern Hebrew name, Kinneret, comes from the Old Testament or Hebrew Tanakh "sea of Kinneret" in Numbers 34:11 andJoshua 13:27, and spelled (Hebrew) כנרות ("Kinnerot") in Joshua 11:2. This name was also found in the scripts of Ugarit, in the Aqhat Epic. Kinneret was listed among the "fenced cities" in Joshua 19:35. The name Kinneret may originate from the Hebrew word kinnor ("harp" or "lyre"), in view of the shape of the lake.[6] All Bible writers use the term "sea" (Hebrew יָם yam, Greek Θαλασσα) except the gospel of Luke, written to Theophilus of Macedonia, where it is called "the lake of Genneseret" in Luke 5:1, from the Greek λίμνη Γεννησαρέτ, (limnē Gennēsaret), the "Grecized form of Chinnereth" according to Easton, who says Genneseret means "a garden of riches".[8] The Babylonian Talmud, as well as Flavius Josephus mention the sea by the name "Sea of Ginosar" after the small fertile plain of Ginosar that lies on its western side.



The origin of the word negev is from the Hebrew root denoting 'dry'. In the Bible, the word Negev is also used for the direction 'south'; some English-language translations use the spelling "Negeb". In Arabic, the Negev is known as al-Naqab, though it was not thought of as a distinct region until the demarcation of the Egypt-Ottoman frontier in the 19th century and has no traditional Arabic name. During the British Mandate it was called Beersheba sub-district.[3]



In Hebrew, the Dead Sea is Yām ha-Melaḥ (ים המלח), meaning "sea of salt" (Genesis 14:3). In the Bible, the Dead Sea is called the Salt Sea, the Sea of the Arabah, and the Eastern Sea. The designation "Dead Sea" never appears in the Bible. In prose sometimes the term Yām ha-Māvet (ים המוות, "sea of death") is used, due to the scarcity of aquatic life there.[8]



The name "Yad Vashem" is taken from a verse in the Book of Isaiah: Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name (yad vashem) better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off" (Isaiah 56:5). Naming the Holocaust memorial "yad vashem" conveys the idea of establishing a national depository for the names of Jewish victims who have no one to carry their name after death.[1]



The ultimate origin of the name Haifa remains unclear. One theory holds it derives from the name of the high priest Caiaphas. Some Christians believe it was named for Saint Peter, whose Aramaic name was Keiphah.[17] Another theory holds it could be derived from the Hebrew verb root חפה (hafa), meaning to cover or shield, i.e. Mount Carmel covers Haifa;[17] others point to a possible origin in the Hebrew word חוֹף (hof), meaning shore, or חוֹף יָפֶה (hof yafe), meaning beautiful shore.[17][18]

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