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Humane Education Resources for Teachers





Resources Overview



Curriculum for Children:
Jewish Humane Education Kit

Teaching Aids





Above all, those to whom the care of young minds has been entrusted should see to it that they respect both the smallest and largest animals as beings which, like people, have been summoned to the joy of life.

— Noted 19th century Rabbi and scholar Israel Salanter


Humane Education is one of the priorities of CHAI and Hakol Chai. Numerous studies have shown that instilling in children empathy, respect, and compassion toward all living beings has enormous benefits for society as a whole.


The connection between childhood abuse of animals and later violence toward people has been repeatedly demonstrated (see Animal Abuse and Human Aggression). Child psychologists invariably cite empathy for the feelings of others as one of the most important keys to raising moral children. A lack of empathy for their victims is what allows violent criminals to commit offenses against others. Law enforcement officials and child welfare authorities now acknowledge that where there is abuse of animals, there is also likely to be elder abuse, abuse of women, and abuse of children. Empathy has also been shown to be an essential component of "emotional intelligence," which psychologist and author Daniel Goleman notes is more important to success and happiness in life than IQ.


How better to instill these important values in children than through teaching respect, empathy, and compassion for animals, beings smaller and weaker than they, and beings for whom children have a natural affinity? Studies show that humane values taught to children for one year, on a regular basis, will stay with them for life and will be transferred to people when they grow up.





Humane educators are also an important key to identifying children at risk. One such educator asked her class whether they thought we should be responsible for animals. When a student answered no, the teacher questioned him after class and discovered his mother was an alcoholic who was not feeding him. To survive, he stole lunches from other children's lockers and rummaged through garbage. If no one was responsible for taking care of him, he reasoned, why should he be responsible for taking care of animals? Without the questioning of the humane educator, his plight might not have been discovered and his chance for a healthy, productive future might have been compromised.


Teaching respect for all life, empathy for the feelings of others who are different from us, and responsibility for animals and the planet on which we live is in our own self-interest. Children who are taught these values will grow up to be moral citizens who will treat not only animals, but also their fellow citizens, with respect, empathy, and responsibility. We believe that teaching these values to both Arab and Jewish children in Israel would increase our chances for peaceful dialogue.


CHAI has organized and presented many conferences for teachers in Israel over the years, and we have developed educational materials for schools in Israel and in the U.S. Instilling empathy, responsibility, and respect are at the heart of these materials. Working together with teachers and principals in implementing these educational programs throughout the school system, we believe we can take a big step toward building a better world, the kind of world in which we will all feel safe and happy to live.