Posted on August 15th, 2013 by Rachel
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:
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
This year’s group of participating educators was outstanding, true superheroes!
A blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts by Deborah, click here.
Posted on June 19th, 2013 by Rachel
The Jewish Museum of Maryland is pleased to announce two summer programs for educators interested in furthering their knowledge of Holocaust history and education. Once again, we are partnering with the Baltimore Jewish Council (BJC) and the Maryland State Department of Education for our annual Summer Teachers Institute taking place July 29-31. This year’s theme is Confronting Genocide: The Holocaust and Beyond.
The program will take place at three venues: our first day is at Chizuk Amuno Congregation; the second at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (we provide bus transportation); and the third is at the JMM. Speakers include an educator from the Jan Karski Educational Foundation who will share educational resources with participants; a scholar from the USHMM who will talk about their newest exhibit, Some Were Neighbors: Collaboration and Complicity During the Holocaust; a Holocaust survivor and liberator who will share personal testimony about their experiences; and master teachers who will share pedagogical strategies for developing lesson plans. In addition to touring the USHMM’s permanent and new exhibits, participants will also have the chance to see the JMM’s most recent exhibit Zap! Pow! Bam! The Golden Age of Superheroes which will serve as inspiration for sessions on propaganda and teaching Maus.
Teachers at last year’s Summer Teachers Institute listening to educator Joyce Witt.
Our Summer Teachers Institute has become a cornerstone of our Holocaust education program. Comments such as “Thank you again for providing wonder-filled and inspirational information, stories, materials, educational ideas, etc., etc. We so appreciate being included in all your terrific programs” are indicative of the outstanding feedback we receive from participants year after year.
While space is quickly filling up, there are still some slots available. To register, applications are available on our website jewishmuseummd.org/summerteachersinstitute. For more information about the program, contact me at email@example.com.
New this year is a second summer workshop, the result of a partnership with Facing History and Ourselves, the BJC, and Baltimore City Schools. We are pleased to offer a five-day course August 5-9 taking place at the JMM focusing on Holocaust and Human Behavior. This program is open to high school teachers (who teach in any school) who plan on teaching a dedicated Holocaust course in the upcoming year.
Registration is through Facing History and Ourselves: facinghistory.org/professionaldevelopment.
The JMM is proud to serve as an educational resource for teachers on Holocaust education. If you teach or are just interested in the subject matter, please feel free to join us this summer!
A blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. Read other posts by Deborah here!
Posted on November 16th, 2012 by Rachel
A blog post by assistant director Deborah Cardin.
On Wednesday, I traveled to Patterson Mill Middle School in Harford County to facilitate educational activities for 100+ 6th graders over the course of the day. The activity that the teacher selected was our Lives Lost, Lives Found photography exploration unit that was developed several years ago when we had an exhibit of the same name on display. The exhibit explored the experiences of the 3,000 German Jewish refugees who found safe haven in Baltimore in the 1930s and 40s. The exhibit provided wonderful educational opportunities to teach students of all backgrounds about the Holocaust from a different perspective, using first-hand testimony and artifacts from individuals who left Germany during an intense period of upheaval and discrimination.
Personal belongings of Herta Baitch who left Austria for Baltimore in the 1930s as an unaccompanied child participating in the German Jewish Children’s Aid Society’s rescue of Jewish children.
In addition to examining conditions in Germany that led to the large-scale migration of Jews and the difficulty that Jews encountered in their attempts to leave, the exhibit also explored the challenges that the refugees faced in adapting to life in their new homeland.
Because the exhibit afforded us the opportunity to create a stand-alone curriculum incorporating photographs on display, we have been able to continue facilitating Holocaust-related school programs. Students examine poster sized reproductions of the photographs in groups, answer questions about the photo that encourage them to use critical thinking and teamwork skills, and present their findings to the class. As a final activity, students attempt to create a timeline of the photos which gives them the opportunity to think about how the photos tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end. (The curriculum and photos can be downloaded from the education section on our website: http:///www.jewishmuseummd.org/educational-programs.)
The stories captured in the photos that the students explore are quite moving and bring to life this distant historical event in a more personal manner. After the students have finished the activity, they listen intently as they learn about the real stories behind the photos. For example they study this photo:
The Weil Family, Hilda and Theo with their children Erna, Lisa, and Toni on vacation in Hollenthal, Germany, 1925
and then learn the story of the Weil family. As we discuss this photo, students who have earlier questioned why Jews didn’t simply leave once the Nazis came to power realize just how complex this question is. The Weils had deep roots in Germany; Theo Weil was a decorated army officer in the German army during World War I and was a successful businessman. Like many other Jews living in Germany, the Weils felt more German than Jewish and were reluctant to uproot their family for what they thought would be a temporary political situation. However, it soon became apparent that their situation was not going to improve. This point was further proven by Theo Weil’s arrest in the wake of Kristallnacht. Theo’s wife, Hilda, arranged for Theo’s release from Dachau by selling family possessions and paying a bribe to the prison officials.
As we discuss the Weil Family’s plight, students also become aware of just how difficult it was for Jews to leave Germany because of the strict immigration quotas that many countries – including the US – had established. The Weils had applied for visas prior to Kristallnacht which was fortunate as the wait for visas became extraordinary afterwards. They still were forced to endure a lengthy wait as the US limited German and Austrian immigrants to 27,370 immigrants per year.
While awaiting their US visas, the Weil daughters had an opportunity to travel to England where they worked as household servants. While living in England, they received their US visas in April 1940. After arriving in the US, they settled in Baltimore and immediately found jobs and worked hard to establish new lives for themselves. They also worked to help their parents emigrate from Germany. They were soon devastated to learn that their parents were sent to Gurs, an internment camp in France.
Theo and Hilda Weil (standing in the second row in the right) outside a barracks at Gurs, 1940
The three daughters worked strenuously to secure their parents release. Because their parents had been approved to receive US visas, they were able to appeal to the US State Department for assistance.
Because Theo and Hilda Weil had no identifying documents with them when they were deported to Gurs, their daughters had papers drawn up for them.
Amazingly their work was successful and their parents were released from Gurs and reunited with them in Baltimore in April 1941.
(The story of the Weil family has been well documented by Anita Kassof in the Winter 2002 edition of Generations in an article, “Dispossession and Adaptation: The Weil Sisters Rebuild Their Family in America.” Back issues of Generations are available in the JMM gift shop. Contact Esther Weiner / firstname.lastname@example.org for details.)
The photograph of the Weil family is the first one in the series of photos in the timeline and it inspires such interesting discussion about the rich lives that Jews led in Europe prior to the Holocaust, the struggles they encountered in their attempts to leave, and the hard work that refugees encountered in settling into their new lives while awaiting news of relatives left behind in Europe.
After working with five separate classes and having such positive interactions with the students and teachers at Patterson Mills Middle School, I left feeling energized about the impact that JMM programs have on students and how our resources inspire them to think about topics they are studying in school in new ways.