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.