Current Students, Holocaust Survivor, Internships, Special Projects

Exciting New Partnership with the American International School

Grounds_from_Above_B       Our students have an exciting new opportunity this year to partner with the Walworth Barbour American International School in Israel (WBAIS). Under the guidance of Beth Dotan, formerly of the Ghettos Fighters’ House Museum, students will collaborate to coordinate a special Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, for WBAIS’ middle school. A diverse group of our students from multiple countries are involved in this project.  The group has met three times in order to plan an engaging and relevant program for the student and conducted a visit to the school to speak directly to the staff on March 4th.

The first working session focused on Holocaust Commemoration. Dotan asked each participant to share their conception of what commemoration is prior to reviewing how different countries and organizations including Israel, the USA, the United Nations, and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance commemorate the Holocaust. Our students heard about the expectations of the WBAIS staff and began to discuss what message to take to the school. For many students commemoration should be productive and a chance to apply the lessons of the Holocaust to today, including learning how to take action to prevent other genocides.  Our students were also interested in creating a program that would deepen WBAIS students’ understanding of the experience of survivors by hearing from a survivor.

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The second working session focused on Holocaust Education. Dotan posed questions to the participants such as what is age appropriate Holocaust education, when should you teach the Holocaust, and what resources and materials should educators use? Dotan discussed the change in Holocaust Education over time from an initial silence to the availability of increasing museums and resources. The participants saw a video of Shulamit Imber, the pedagogy director at Yad Vashem. Imber discussed the importance of educators finding meaning in the Holocaust for their pupils and not just teaching what happened. Imber urged educators to focus on the human story of individuals, families, and communities, not a number.

In addition to sharing with the participants Yad Vashem’s philosophy regarding Holocaust education Dotan shared the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum teaching guidelines, a new initiative in the Nordic Countries to focus on rights, democracy, and rule of law to teach students to become empathetic citizens, and finally the guidelines put out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Dotan shared other organizations that are useful to educators such as the Anti-Defamation League. Dotan brought Holocaust literature to the workshop and asked the participants to share two books that they would either teach or not teach and explain why. It was very useful to see the number of different resources available to educators.

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The third workshop held at the start of the spring semester was focused on planning the ceremony for the Middle School. Our students decided that after a brief welcome and introduction the students will meet in small groups to engage in an activity that uses lemons and apples to start a discussion on stereotyping, discrimination, and the importance of recognizing the individuality and humanity in every one. Following this activity the students will have the opportunity to hear from a survivor and ask them questions. The program for Yom Hashoah will end with an artistic reflection activity that focuses on what students learned and how they will apply the lessons of the Holocaust.

Our students visited the WBAIS campus to present their plan to the Middle School staff. Our students were impressed with the campus and staff and had a productive conversation with them about the logistics of the ceremony and how to effectively prepare the students to hear the survivors in advance.  This project led by Dotan is a great opportunity for our students to receive a theoretical basis in Holocaust commemoration and education prior to facilitating the ceremony for WBAIS. This will be an exciting real life challenge for our students to plan and facilitate a program that WBAIS middle school students will find meaningful.

Interested in applying for our MA in Holocaust Studies Program?  You can find the application and more information at our website: http://holocaust-studies.haifa.ac.il/

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