A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way……

Posted on March 11th, 2015 by

Okay, I am the first one to tell you that the winter weather has put a damper on the daily happenings at the JMM.  Over the past few weeks, field trips, outreach programs and professional development workshops for teachers were all cancelled due to school closings, icy conditions and frigid temperatures.  However, there was a “ray of sunshine” that happened last week that will keep us warm until spring comes in a few weeks.

A little ray of sunshine...

A little ray of sunshine…

Last Tuesday morning at 9:30a.m., I received a phone call from the President of Mercy High School, a Catholic school located in Baltimore City.  The faculty and 11th graders were planning a field trip that morning to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC but decided against it due to the weather forecast. They were wondering if they could bring 84 students along with the teachers and chaperones to the Jewish Museum of Maryland instead.

Museum Educator Carolyn Bevans works with students.

Museum Educator Carolyn Bevans works with students.

My first reaction-OMG!  My second reaction – I went into command mode.  I asked the teachers what the students were learning about with regard to Holocaust studies.  I spoke to the JMM’s education staff and volunteers about the possibility of hosting such a large group and the logistics behind hosting the group.  We were all in agreement to “go for it” and within the hour we welcomed Mercy  High School to the JMM!

Lives Lost: Lives Found- Baltimore’s German Jewish Refugees 1939-1945 photo activity.

Lives Lost: Lives Found- Baltimore’s German Jewish Refugees 1939-1945 photo activity.

We divided the group into two sections. One group visited the Lloyd Street Synagogue and learned about the history of the building and the different immigrant groups that used the building, which was used as a Catholic Church at the beginning of the 20th century.  The students also learned about Jewish rituals and customs that take place inside the synagogue.  The other group stayed inside the Museum and watched a short movie about the JMM’s exhibition, Lives Lost: Lives Found- Baltimore’s German Jewish Refugees 1939-1945. Following the movie, the students looked at images that were depicted in the exhibition and used critical thinking skills to find meaning in the posters.  After an hour, the groups flip-flopped so that everyone had an opportunity to participate in both activities.

Visiting the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Visiting the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

The education staff was pleased with the decision to host the group, especially in this instance when the bad weather was to our advantage.  With all school groups, we give the teacher an evaluation form to fill out about the education experience.   I received the evaluation form back from the teachers but I also received this lovely email… along with lovely posies……  A little kindness  really does go a long way….

IMG_20150307_120933901Dear Ilene,

Many thanks for the warm welcome you extended to our 84 Mercy High School juniors, faculty and parents today!  I am deeply grateful to you and your staff and volunteers for offering a wonderfully enriching experience to our students with less than an hour’s notice!  I learned today that most, if not all, of the students visiting the museum had never been inside a synagogue.  What a gift you gave to them!

I hope that this is the beginning of a new partnership for Mercy High School with the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  In the meantime, if we can be of service to you, please do not hesitate to call upon us.

Best regards,

Mary Beth Lemmon ‘85

President, Mercy High School

 

ileneA blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.

 

 

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Studying the Legacy of the Holocaust

Posted on February 4th, 2015 by

Lessons of the Shoah, a high school interfaith program, took place on February 3 at John Carroll High School in Harford County. Designed as a day of exploration, dialogue and commemoration using the Holocaust and its lessons as a starting point to promote tolerance, understanding and respect among students of diverse backgrounds, the program featured workshops, survivor testimony and student presentations and reflections.

Lessons of the Shoah, 2015

Lessons of the Shoah, 2015

More than 250 students and 30 teachers representing 21 schools participated in the day long program that was spearheaded by John Carroll teacher Louise Geczy and co-sponsored by the JMM and Baltimore Jewish Council. Participating schools included public (from Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Harford County), independent and parochial (Jewish and Catholic) schools.

After an opening program in which students watched a video produced by the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous documenting a reunion between a Holocaust survivor and the non-Jewish family that rescued him (learn more about the JFR at www.jfr.org), students attended two workshops of their choice. Options included genocide prevention led by Warren Marcus of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Collaborators and Bystanders facilitated by Poly High School teacher Josh Headly, and a history of antisemitism by Father Bob Albright.

The JMM also lead a breakout session using our Lives Lost, Lives Found history kit to engage students in critical thinking as they analyzed photographs exploring the experiences of German Jewish refugees who found safe haven in Baltimore in the 1930s.

As part of the activity students worked in small groups to explore photos that were part of the exhibit.

As part of the activity students worked in small groups to explore photos that were part of the exhibit.

As a culminating activity, students create a timeline of photos.

As a culminating activity, students create a timeline of photos.

Teachers and students split up during lunch giving students the chance to get to know one another while teachers networked and listened to a panel of Holocaust educators who shared their tips for teaching the topic.

After lunch the entire group gathered for the most moving part of the program to hear Holocaust survivors Esther and Howard Kaidanow share their stories of survival.

Esther Kaidonow speaking.

Esther Kaidanow speaking.

Students gathered with the Kaidonows to express their appreciation.

Students gathered with the Kaidanows to express their appreciation.

Following the testimony, students worked in small groups to share reflections of the day.

Students working in small groups.

Students working in small groups.

They were asked to write down their final thoughts about the lasting legacy of the Holocaust on index cards that they posted for all to read.

Students posting their comments.

Students posting their comments.

Sample reflections

Sample reflections

Lessons of the Shoah is a program that the JMM and BJC have facilitated for several years in several different iterations. This was the second year that we have used the format of a day long program for students from many different schools. The impressive turnout of students and teachers from such a diverse group of schools and the beautiful reflections shared by students at the end of the day reflect the importance of providing opportunities for teens to learn from one another using the lessons of the Holocaust as inspiration for discourse.

deborahA blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.

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Summer Teachers Institute Highlights

Posted on August 15th, 2013 by

The JMM convened our annual Summer Teachers Institute on July 29 at Chizuk Amuno Congregation. This three-day program focusing on Holocaust education was devoted to the theme, Confronting Genocide: Heroism During the Holocaust. The following are program highlights:

Day 1

For our first day, we invited Wanda Urbanska of the Jan Karski Educational Foundation to speak about Jan Karski, a Polish diplomat who tried to alert world leaders about the horrors of the Holocaust. Her presentation included a review of the complex history of Poland as well as details of the dramatic exploits of Jan Karski which included smuggling himself into the Lodz Ghetto as well as a transit camp where he witnessed first-hand Nazi atrocities towards Jews.

Participants listening to Wanda Urbanski’s presentation.

Participants listening to Wanda Urbanski’s presentation.

Thanks to the generosity of the Jan Karski Educational Foundation, each participant received a copy of Karski’s book, Story of a Secret State, published originally in 1944. An afternoon presentation by educator Jonathan Willis demonstrated how teachers can create lesson plans based on the book that integrate Common Core standards.

Thanks to the generosity of the Jan Karski Educational Foundation, each participant received a copy of Karski’s book, Story of a Secret State, published originally in 1944. An afternoon presentation by educator Jonathan Willis demonstrated how teachers can create lesson plans based on the book that integrate Common Core standards.

In the afternoon, teachers were riveted as World War II veteran Sol Goldstein shared his experiences in such seminal events as the D-Day landing, the Battle of the Bulge, and the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp.

For many teachers, it was the first time that they had heard testimony from a liberator and his presentation complemented the morning presentation and emphasized the theme of “Heroism During the Holocaust.”

For many teachers, it was the first time that they had heard testimony from a liberator and his presentation complemented the morning presentation and emphasized the theme of “Heroism During the Holocaust.”

Day 2

We spent our second day in Washington, DC at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. In addition to viewing the permanent exhibit, we also were able to tour a new exhibit Some Were Neighbors: Complicity and Collaboration During the Holocaust. This powerful exhibition documents the actions of ordinary individuals – not Nazis – who participated in a wide range of terrible acts against Jews including looting Jewish businesses, purchasing stolen property at auctions, and even taking part in the shooting squads of Jews in Eastern Europe. One of the most powerful features of the exhibition are interviews with Jewish survivors who talk about how their former friends and neighbors turned on them as well as with non-Jews who describe their participation in the Holocaust as train conductors and shooting squad members.

An afternoon presentation by USHMM scholar, Dr. Ann Millin, focused on an on-line resource created as a companion to the exhibition. Dr. Millin demonstrated many valuable features of the website which includes a vast array of educational resources.

Day 3

The last day of the workshop took place at the JMM. Teachers toured our historic synagogues as well as one of our exhibits, Zap! Pow! Bam! which provided context for our two morning sessions. Poly High School teacher Joshua Headly facilitated a session on teaching the graphic novel Maus in the classroom which was followed up by a presentation by Kristin Schenning, education director at the Maryland Historical Society, on the topic of propaganda.

The day concluded with survivor testimony by Edith Cord who was a hidden child during the Holocaust.

The day concluded with survivor testimony by Edith Cord who was a hidden child during the Holocaust.

Once again we were delighted by the response and feedback we received from teachers. Comments such as “Thank you for making me think deeply about the Holocaust and how to teach it” and “I feel better equipped to tackle the daunting task of teaching the Shoah” demonstrate the extent to which our Summer Teachers Institute provides a high quality educational experience for teachers. The JMM is grateful to our program partners: The Baltimore Jewish Council, Maryland State Department of Education, and Chizuk Amuno Congregation; and we are most appreciative of the ongoing support of our generous sponsors, Judy and Jerry Macks.

STI participants

This year’s group of participating educators was outstanding, true superheroes!

deborahA blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts by Deborah, click here.

 

 

 

 

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