Posted on August 10th, 2016 by Rachel
Art as Resistance
One of my favorite learning activities at this year’s Summer Teachers Institute was experiencing a lesson on the Jüdischer Kulturbund. After visiting the Holocaust Museum yesterday, I had learned a little about the Jewish cultural renewal that occurred in Germany in the face of discriminatory laws, and I was left wanting to know more. In perfect serendipity, one of today’s workshops was on exactly that. When all of Germany’s Jewish artists and performers were fired from their jobs, the Jüdischer Kulturbund formed to allow Jewish artists to continue creating, albeit within tighter restraints. We went through a practice lesson, which was designed to show kids how people use art as a form of resistance, and allow them to creatively engage in this idea. We were split up into groups, and tasked to create four pieces of art, each one with an added restriction. In order, they were: You cannot use the color red, you cannot use writing utensils, you cannot use construction paper, and you cannot portray the American flag, but you must represent the spirit of it. The activity was fun, and the wrap up questions afterward were also helpful in making the lesson more meaningful.
During my second semester at college, I taught a twice-a-week class about democracy and grassroots civic projects to middle schoolers, and lesson planning was definitely one of the most difficult parts. On the one hand, you want the students to get your Big Idea and really understand it, but on the other hand, they have to find it interesting and fun. An activity like the Jüdischer Kulturbund one I expereinced today would be the perfect blend of fun and thoughtprovoking. I could definitely see this being adapted to fit my classroom next year, and am encouraged by seeing the Maryland teachers here today share these innovative lesson plans and ideas.
Day One at Beth El Congregation
The biggest lesson I took from the Summer Teachers Institute program was the difficulty of planning Holocaust education. When dealing with such difficult and distressing subject material, it’s very difficult to stay responsive. My natural tendency when confronted with information about the holocaust is to shut down; I feel that there is so much about the holocaust ingrained in the modern Jewish sub-consciousness that I already know all the raw facts. Rather than just presenting information, the goal of holocaust education should be to illuminate the warning signs of impending tyranny and oppression, and to avoid the mistakes of the past, rather than the revel in the suffering of the past.
Holocaust survivor Goldie Szachter Kalib
During the Summer Teachers Institute, I was able to hear Holocaust survivor Goldie Szachter Kalib’s testimony about her experiences in Poland and Auschwitz as a young girl. Her powerful account demonstrated the lengths to which she and the adults around her went to keep her safe in the face of relentless Nazi cruelty. She so effectively conjured up the image of her as a Jewish child separated from her family in Nazi-occupied Poland; I will never forget her story. Hearing Mrs. Kalib speak emphasized to me that the victims and survivors of the Holocaust are all people with meaningful life stories, not just figures in photos or statistics in books.
Deborah Batiste presenting on “Echoes & Reflections”
The most mesmerizing part of STI was the combination of stories from the past and how they are being understood today. When we worked together in groups it helped me to understand what it means to be part of a community that does whatever they can to stand in solidarity. It emphasized what it truly means to be a person associated with a history people who have overcome tragedy through finding joy wherever they could. This circles back to the importance of supporting your community so that strength is built up in all the members of that community.
The Real Monuments Men
For the summer Teachers Institute program I was able to attend two days of the program, the Beth El hosted day and the JMM hosted Wednesday event. I was captivated by the events as they focused on the arts both during and after the Holocaust. I was particularly interested in the sections centering around the cinematography of the Holocaust as it happened and the fiction and non-fiction films/documentaries that emerged years after. I am interested in video and film myself so it was really interesting to learn about the effects of this cinema in the Jewish community.
For instance, I learned a majority of concentration camp footage was from Nazi propaganda, additionally allies used video footage of the camps for propaganda as well. I was also surprised to learn that the making of Holocaust themed movies has been a fairly recent endeavor. Movies I always assumed had some degree of accuracy were also debunked as well others I thought less of such as Uprising had hidden detail I wouldn’t have known about. I was also really interested to learn of one speaker’s story detailing the exploits of her father. He was one of the monetary men serving in WW2 to track hidden Nazi money and stolen art works. Her story about how she uncovered the classified documents in storage and rooted through them until she discovered the character playing George Clooney in the film Monuments Men was in fact her father. Overall it was a very interesting experience that I learned a lot from.
-O. Cade Simon
JMM Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon welcomes participants at the opening of our 2016 Summer Teachers Institute.
This week the JMM hosted the 2016 Summer Teachers’ Institute about Holocaust education. The theme this year was Holocaust Remembrance through the Arts. I attended both the first session at Beth El Synagogue and the third session at the JMM, unfortunately missing the visit to the U.S. Holocaust Museum. It was, above all else, a singularly moving experience to see so many teachers brought together for the purpose of learning how to better pass on the history and the story of the Holocaust in ways that students can understand and deal with meaningfully. It was also heartbreaking to hear and see so many stories of loss and grief, and knowing that even for those who survived they could never forget. Even though I don’t plan to go into education, I’ve already made plans to follow up on some of the material I learned about in these sessions and I’ll remember this week for the rest of my life.
“Skokie” and “The Wave”
During the summer teacher’s institute there was a lot of information to process. I found the section about Holocaust films especially interesting. I went to a living historian workshop during the spring and they also talked about the value of using film and T.V. to start a dialogue about history. It got me wondering about other films that could be used to tell the story of the Holocaust that might not be Holocaust films, such as “Skokie” which is good at continuing the story and showing that Nazi ideology did not die with the end of WW II, or “The Wave” which looks at a high school history experiment gone wrong to try and show students how the Nazis were able to rise to power. I feel these films would help to contextualize the Holocaust and show how its effects continued past the fact.
Spoken Work Haikus
Participants in “Music and Art: Exploring Responses to Oppression”
I’m not a teacher, and likely won’t become one, but that didn’t matter. The Summer Teachers Institute, especially the third day at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, was a very enjoyable experience. My favorite part was with Gail Prensky and Sarah Baumgarten during their presentation “Music and Art: Exploring Responses to Oppression.” When I first heard about its interactive nature, I admittedly felt apprehensive. I was tired and wanted another presentation like the first, where I could sit back and enjoy. The thing is, the moment we split up into groups to begin projects, I didn’t feel tired anymore. The presenter split us into groups of five and gave us the choice of either a visual art or musical project with specific restrictions. My group contained two other interns and two younger teachers, and we decided to do the musical challenge of writing a love song without the word love. We bounced around all kinds of ideas, the interns easily joking around with the teachers. Eventually, we settled on writing haikus about the love for humanity. Because this took us so long to decide on, as we were busy jotting down synonyms to love and deciding whether we wanted this to focus on a gentlemen longing for a maiden, or a maiden longing for a gentlemen (I was outnumbered), or whether it should follow the “traditional” haiku format with allusions to nature, we were still scribbling down stanzas while watching all the other groups present (everyone was amazing). Finally, I stood up to recite the spoken word poems, with the guys standing behind me and snapping for the musical element. One of the interns encouraged everyone to snap, and soon the whole room was snapping and grinning. I won’t remember the exact words of the other presenters, no matter how engaging. This experience, however, is something I doubt I’ll forget for a long time.
Josh Headley on incorporating graphic novels into Holocaust education.
The Summer Teacher’s Institute took place on August 1st-3rd, the final day hosted by the Jewish Museum of Maryland and was most interesting for me. As an aspiring social studies teacher, the programming and speakers at STI discussed a plethora of topics that I am interested in. My favorite speaker was Josh Headley, the head of the social studies department at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.
Josh did an excellent job explaining how he has incorporated graphic novels into holocaust education. He went on to explain that by sparking his students’ interest in certain topics, he managed to inspire them to research other subjects that mattered to them. This very simple notion is often overlooked by the public school system and leads to disengaged students. Sir Ken Robinson, a renowned international educator, has said “If you can light the spark of curiosity in a child, they will learn without any further assistance, very often. Children are natural learners.” Josh is exemplifying this concept by giving his students the tools that are necessary to further their education on their own.
The speakers and programs at STI were all beneficial to me and I look forward to using the abilities I gained as a teacher in the near future.
Posted on June 15th, 2016 by Rachel
The Jewish Museum of Maryland is about to embark on an exciting new project designed to honor our community’s Holocaust survivors. As part of the Holocaust Memory Reconstruction Project, we are inviting artist Lori Schocket to spend the next two weeks with us as she facilitates a series of workshops for Holocaust survivors, descendants and their families. (Visit www.thehumanelementproject.com to learn more about similar projects that Lori has facilitated in other communities.)
Participants are asked to bring with them artifacts, including photographs and documents, that highlight their experiences before, during and after the Holocaust, as well as a written statement that summarizes their stories.
A collage from a previous workshop
During the workshops, which last between 2 ½ to 3 hours, Lori, along with a group of JMM staff members and volunteers, will assist participants as they share stories and incorporate the materials they have brought with them into collages on a 10” x 10” foam panel.
Previous workshop participants
Each collage will be reproduced onto a large metal framework that will become an art installation. The installation will be featured in the JMM’s upcoming Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust, Humanity exhibition on display March 5-May 29, 2016.
Remembering Auschwitz also includes A Town Known As Auschwitz, an exhibition developed by the Museum of Jewish Heritage, A Living Memorial To the Holocaust, and explores the pre-Holocaust history of the town, Oswiecim, where the camp was located.
Workshops take place the following dates, times and locations:
Sunday, June 19: Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, 21202)
Monday, June 20: Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, 21202)
Tuesday, June 21: Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, 21202)
Sunday, June 26: JCC (5700 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, 21215 – In the Community Room)
Monday, June 27: JCC (5700 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, 21215 – In the Community Room)
Tuesday, June 28: JCC (5700 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, 21215 – In the Community Room)
Another sample collage
We are pleased to partner with so many different organizations on this project including the Human Element Project, Baltimore Jewish Council, Jewish Communal Services, Center for Jewish Education and the JCC.
Please contact me at 410-732-6400 x236 / email@example.com for more information or to register for a workshop.
Posted on March 17th, 2016 by Rachel
I love to visit area schools and I felt such joy over the past two weekends visiting three local religious school programs that are participating in the My Family Story project, an initiative from Beit Hatfutsot’s International School for Jewish Peoplehood Studies which has been funded and supported by the Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Fund for the Enrichment of Jewish Education. The students participating in this project have embarked on a journey to the past, an exploration of heritage, and a project that goes beyond the usual family tree. This journey has connected students to their personal stories, their family stories and to their story within the greater story of the Jewish People. These students are not alone in this adventure. Students and teachers throughout the Jewish world and Israel have also been on their own family explorations and are participating in this project.
During the 1990’s, a prominent psychologist at Emory University, Dr. Marshall Duke was tasked with researching the nature of “myth and ritual in American families.” From his research, Dr. Duke discovered that one of the most important things a family can do is to develop a strong family narrative. There was a lot of research at the time into the dissipation of the family. Duke was more interested in what families could do to counteract those forces. Dr. Duke set out to help families build and talk about their history; it proved to be quite a breakthrough. Digging deeper in his research, Duke said, “children who have the most self-confidence have what he calls a “’strong intergenerational self”. They know they belong to something bigger then themselves. Leaders in other fields have found similar results, many groups use what sociologists call sense-making, the building of a narrative that explains what the group is about.
In speaking to the students from Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Bolton Street Synagogue and Beit Tikvah, these children really seem to have a sense of pride about their stories that they shared with me. They learned about places throughout the world where their ancestors emigrated from along with stories that hopefully they will pass on to future generations. One of the students told me that one of her ancestors shared in a pail of beer with President Lincoln… How cool is that!!!
The projects will be judged at the My Family Story Exhibition that will take place on Thursday evening, April 7 at the JMM. Projects will be judged based on a rubric in areas of, Jewish peoplehood, depth of research, aesthetics and creativity. The projects will be scored and two winners will be picked and sent to Beit Hatfutsot in Israel along with other projects from students participating throughout the world. The staff at Beit Hatfutsot will pick 40 winners and those winners will receive a free trip to Israel in June and meet with the international winners who also won from their communities.
The students have been really working hard on their projects….. Hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peek at some of their works in progress…….. We hope you will make your way to the JMM to see the creativity of area students and the interpretations of their family narratives. Want to learn more about this awesome project? Contact Ilene Dackman-Alon, Director of Education; firstname.lastname@example.org
A blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.