Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly: Access World Religions


This collection of resources from the award-winning public television series Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly is designed to help students gain awareness and understanding of the diversity of religions and religious experiences, and the reasons for particular expressions of religious beliefs within a society or culture.

  • Scholarship and Learning in Islam - Lesson Plan | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

    In this lesson, students look at several aspects of lslamic learning and scholarship.  They are introduced to the madrasah (Islamic religious school), learn about the history of Timbuktu and explore Muslim contributions to math and science.

    Grades: 5-12
  • Tibetan Buddhist Mandala | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

    This video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly features Tibetan Buddhist monks constructing and destroying a sand mandala, a circular diagram of intricate shapes and symbols used to facilitate meditation. The creation of a sand mandala can take days or weeks, as millions of grains of colored sand are laid into place to form a representation of Buddha's divine palace. After its completion, in a process that takes no more than a few minutes, the mandala is destroyed--an act symbolizing the impermanence of life.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Zoroastrian New Year | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

    This video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly shows Farzad Aidun sharing his family's celebration of Norooz, or Nowruz, at their home in Maryland. Norooz, the ancient Zoroastrian spring festival of the New Year, celebrates the symbolic victory of light, goodness and fire in a two-week festival that begins on the spring equinox. The video shows Aidun laying an elaborate table of apples, garlic and wheat, and describing the role of fire and light as signs of knowledge and wisdom.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Hajj: Journey to Mecca

    In this lesson, students learn about the activities involved during the Hajj, the pilgrimage that makes up one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and their historic and spiritual importance to Muslims.

    Grades: 5-13+
  • Baptism | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

    This video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly highlights the baptism ceremony and how it is practiced in different Christian denominations. In the Roman Catholic Church, baptizing infants is essential because it represents the forgiveness of original sin, conversion to the faith, and a relationship with God in the afterlife. In Baptist churches, baptism is observed by adults when they are ready to identify as followers of Jesus Christ and profess the faith. The video also shows how the process of baptism varies. Some denominations sprinkle water on worshippers, while others immerse them.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Day of the Dead | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

    This video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly offers a behind-the-scenes look at how Latin American communities across the U.S. honor their deceased on Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos. Celebrants believe that the spirits of the dead return every year on this day, which coincides with All Saints Day and All Souls Day. The video also shows how Day of the Dead rituals follow the Catholic Church's teachings about life and death.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Confirmation | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

    This video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly explores the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church. During this Sacrament, adolescents are brought into full communion with the Catholic Church. The Sacrament is bestowed after participants complete a lengthy period of religious instruction. In the United States they also may be required to complete some community service. At the time of Confirmation, young people take the name of a saint who represents a spiritual model for their adult lives as followers of Jesus Christ.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Muslim Prayer

    Prayer, the act of communicating with God, is a shared component of religions around the world. Prayer is one of the five pillars of the Muslim faith. Devout Muslims pray five times a day. In this video from Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, meet Shaker Elsayed, a Muslim living in Alexandria, Virginia, as he talks about his daily prayer rituals and what those practices mean to him.

    For more resources like this, see the collection Promoting Understanding: Islam.

    Grades: 5-12
  • Diwali | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

    This video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly shows a reenactment of the event that most Hindus observe as the inspiration for Diwali: Lord Rama’s return from exile. Diwali, the annual five-day Festival of Lights, welcomes what is hoped to be an auspicious new year. Hindus also make a "Grand Puja," or ritual prayer, towards the end of the Diwali celebration using the elements of both fire and water to communicate with God.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Turkey's Early Christian Roots | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

    This video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly explores the historical importance of Turkey and the vital part it played in developing the power structure of early Christianity. Even though Christianity did not begin in Turkey, it flourished there after the death of Jesus when many of his apostles fled Jerusalem seeking religious freedom and also undertook missionary journeys in the Mediterranean region. Church doctrine was formulated in Turkey and many of the tenets, creeds, and confessions established in its ancient cities are still recognized and accepted. Today, Turkey has more religious sites than any other country in the region.

    Grades: 9-12
  • American Muslim Women | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

    American Muslim women, who are comprised of immigrants from more than 60 nations as well as native-born Americans, are confronted by many stereotypes. In this video from Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, learn about Muslim women living in America and how they contend with the misconceptions about their faith and their status within it.

    Grades: 5-12
  • Jewish Hair Cutting Ceremony | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

    This video segment from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly shows a three-year-old boy from a Hasidic Jewish family getting his first haircut. Traditional Jews often wait until a boy turns three before cutting his hair. This first cut, performed during a festive celebration called an upsherin (the Yiddish word meaning to "shear off"), marks the beginning of a boy's formal education, as well as his obligation to keep the commandments and perform good deeds, known as mitzvot in Hebrew.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Timbuktu | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

    Deep in the West African nation of Mali lies Timbuktu—a formerly prosperous desert crossroads where salt, gold, slaves, and scholarship were exchanged as far back as the 11th century. During the 15th century, this fabled city became a gathering place for the study of Islamic law, theology and secular works, drawing thousands of students and scholars from West and North Africa and the Middle East. In this video from Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, travel to Timbuktu for a look at what ancient manuscripts reveal about the city's rich history as a center for Islamic culture and studies.

    For more resources like this, visit the collection Promoting Understanding: Islam.

    Grades: 5-12
  • Jewish High Holidays | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

    This video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly shows Rabbi Alan Lew describing the spiritual transformation Jews experience by observing the High Holy Days. The Jewish High Holy Days are a 10-day period of prayer and penitence beginning with Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Awe, the Jewish New Year, and ending with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. During this sacred time of reflection and repentance, Jews around the world attend special services, gather with friends and families for ritual meals, and observe a day of fasting.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Altruism | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

    This video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly discusses the topic of altruism by profiling people who have performed good deeds. Those profiled were inspired not only by religious teachings, but also by a personal desire to help those less fortunate. This video looks at the actions of a kidney donor, 9/11 first responders and the villagers of Le Chambon in southern France during World War II.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Talmud Study | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

    This video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly examines a worldwide Talmud study program called Daf Yomi, meaning "a page a day." Reading a page a day, it takes seven-and-a-half years to finish all 2,711 pages of the Talmud, which consists of centuries of rabbinic commentaries on Jewish law and the meaning of the Torah, the first five books of the Jewish Bible. The wisdom of the Talmud is relevant to the lives of those who study it today.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Hajj: Part I | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

    One of the five requirements or pillars of Islam is the pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, also known as the Hajj. The journey is taken by thousands of Americans each year. This video on the Hajj from Religion & Ethics Newsweekly begins with a look at one American Muslim preparing for his first trip to Mecca.

    Grades: 5-12
  • Chinese New Year | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

    This video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly shows a Buddhist family in the US observing the rituals of Chinese New Year. The Chinese tradition of celebrating the New Year began more than 4,000 years ago, and has evolved into a holiday that includes a combination of rituals from Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism. Also known as Spring Festival, it is celebrated by Chinese communities throughout the world at the end of winter.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Islamic Art | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

    The Islamic Empire once stretched from the Atlantic Ocean in the West, to India and the borders of China in the East. Over many centuries, the artistic traditions of these different regions merged into an identifiably Islamic style. The traveling exhibition "Palace and Mosque" features a world-renowned Islamic art collection. In this video from Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, a guided tour of the exhibition by Tim Stanley, senior curator for the Middle East at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, provides a historical perspective and cultural context for understanding Islam through religious art.

    For more resources like this, visit the collection Promoting Understanding: Islam.

    Grades: 5-12
  • Muslims in America | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

    Since September 11th, Muslims across the nation have faced numerous new challenges and opportunities as they continue to define their community in America. One of the key challenges has been differentiating themselves from terrorists in the eyes of the government and the public. This video from Religion & Ethics Newsweekly examines both the internal and external challenges facing American Muslims in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

    Grades: 5-12

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