The Making of a Good Friend

3, 4, 5
Keywords & Concepts: 

Using a traditional Jewish text as its basis, this lesson emphasizes the importance of sharing in a relationship.

PrintOne 50-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • demonstrate understanding of Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers).
  • work cooperatively to write a poem for two voices about sharing
  • Text of Pirkei Avot 5:13 (handout below)
  • copy of the book Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman
Home Connection 

Write a poem for two voices with a family member. The poem should be about sharing in a family.

  • Joyful Noises: Poems for Two Voices, by Paul Fleischman, HarperCollins Juvenile Books, 1992. ISBN: 0064460932
  • Pirkei Avot


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Display the following four ways for people to view property for sharing (based on Pirkei Avot 5:13). As a group, number them in order of the most selfish to most generous. Discuss why they put them in that order, and ask young people to come up with real-life examples of friends and community members exhibiting these attitudes. (Note: property may be toys, books, time, relationships, or knowledge.)

    • "My property is mine and your property is yours."
    • "My property is yours and your property is mine"
    • "My property is yours and your property is yours."
    • "Your property is mine and my property is mine."
  2. Explain that a rabbi gave his opinion on this matter in a book called Pirkei Avot, or Ethics of the Fathers. Read the text from Pirkei Avot (see handout below) and compare the rabbi’s order to the order the group came up with above.

  3. Discuss why sharing is important. Some answers may include that it makes people feel better, it requires fewer resources, it’s more fun, it’s a good way to meet people, it saves money, it saves people time, etc.

  4. Give the assignment to work with a partner to write poetry about sharing. They are going to write a special type of poem in two voices. Explain that they are each going to have a voice in the poem, but they will be speaking about the same topic on the same page.

  5. Read a couple of poems from Paul Fleischman’s book Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices to give examples.

  6. Give pairs of youth time to write the poem with their partners.

  7. Have the partners read their poems out loud to get the full effect of the two voices. Discuss how it felt to share ideas and work together.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe one reason why a person might give or volunteer.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.