JMM Insights: International Holocaust Remembrance Day

In this week’s edition of JMM Insights, in recognition of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27th, JMM Director of Education Ilene Dackman-Alon shares about our upcoming Third Annual Winter Teachers Institute.

I invite you to join us this Sunday for a special program with musician and educator Zisl Slepovitch. Zisl combines a live musical performance, archival recordings and storytelling to explore and celebrate the many voices in the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies. This important collection includes over 4,400 testimonies from Holocaust survivors, witnesses and liberators. 

I hope you will join us for this meaningful and memorable experience.

In community,

Sol Davis, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Pronouns: he/him/his
Jewish Museum of Maryland

For many years, JMM and the Baltimore Jewish Council (BJC) have co-sponsored professional development opportunities for teachers dedicated to providing resources and materials to help teach about the history and the lessons of the Holocaust effectively and accurately in the classroom. We offer these professional opportunities for educators twice during the year, during the summer and winter months, using a unique theme each time. We are also able to offer participating teachers in the workshops continuing education credits through Baltimore City Public Schools and the Maryland State Department of Education for completion of the course.

Summer Teachers Institute 2020: Teaching Students to Be Upstanders

We want to provide teachers with opportunities to be students in the classroom, learn something new, and bring back new resources to their own classroom and school communities. This past summer we offered our first virtual professional development opportunity, Summer Teachers Institute 2020: Teaching Students to Be Upstanders (STI 2020), focused on the idea that an upstander is someone who speaks up on behalf of someone who was bullied or wronged.

As you can imagine, the development and planning of a virtual conference is quite different than planning an in-person conference. We were eager to explore the benefits offered by this new virtual format, which allowed us to reach new audiences throughout the State of Maryland with the use of technology rather than have participants travel to Baltimore for multiple days of learning. The technology also allowed us to go beyond the Baltimore/Washington corridor for both our participants and our presents, introducing teachers to new organizations and resources from around the globe.

We decided to use a combination of digital platforms, holding our live sessions on Zoom and using Google Classroom to share readings, activities and other resources as well as providing a forum space for teachers to share and communicate with each other to create a community of learners that goes beyond the conference itself. Over the past 6 months we have engaged with teachers through this community, encouraging them to look at each other’s lesson plans, provide constructive feedback and comments, and share their own stories of challenges and successes in the classroom.  

Winter Teachers Institute 2021: Children and the Holocaust

Next month, we are proud to introduce our Virtual Winter Teachers Institute 2021: Children and the Holocaust. This Institute will take place over two consecutive Sundays: February 21st and February 28th from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM. All sessions will be hosted over Zoom, and resources will be provided through Google Classroom. The program complements the resources and learning provided at our 2020 Summer Teachers Institute, which also focused on students and children.

JMM was recently recognized by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) as a Holocaust Education Center, along with fourteen other centers around the country. We are pleased to share that education staff from USHMM partnered with us in the planning of this year’s Winter Teachers Institute, along with the HERO Center in Hartford, CT.

Day One: Sunday, February 21, 2021

Crayon drawing depicting a skier along with trees and birds along a ski slope.
Unsigned crayon and pencil drawing by a student of Gertrude Winter. Courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The acquisition of this collection was made possible by Herta Griffel Baitch, Amy and Andrew Cohn, William J. and Sybil K. Klein, and Dee Dee and Eliot Simon. Gertrude Winter Papers, 2016.527.6.

The program on Sunday, February 21st will be facilitated by staff and teacher fellows from USHMM. The teachers will learn about USHMM teaching guidelines and resources to teach about the Holocaust in the classroom. Teachers will also participate in a virtual tour of the Americans and the Holocaust exhibit and will be introduced to teaching materials for the exhibit. We are very excited by this addition to the program, as the Americans and the Holocaust exhibit is a recommended resource for teachers in the new MSDE Social Studies Framework for high school.  

Participants will examine children’s artwork from the Gertrude Winter Papers, an important collection at USHMM. Teachers who participated in STI 2020 learned about Gertrude Winter during the summer while watching the USHMM video Teaching during Extraordinary Times. Gertrude was a Jewish teacher in Vienna who saved her students’ school and artwork in a strong box that was found in 2016 and is now part of the USHMM holdings.

Following lunch, our teachers are invited to the JMM public program Connecting Stories of Survival. During this program, teachers will hear survivor testimony from Baltimorean Herta Griffel Baitch and Ruth Weiner who resides in Hartford, CT. Both women attended the Jewish school in Vienna where Gertrude Winter taught 1st and 2nd grade.

The final session of day one includes introducing our teachers to the brand-new USHMM resource Exploring Holocaust-Era Diaries. Our teachers will examine diary entries and journals documenting children’s experiences during the Holocaust. These children confided their feelings and reflected on the trauma they endured during these years.

Day Two: Sunday, February 28, 2021

On Sunday, February 28th, we are thrilled to partner with Centropa, an education center based in Vienna that facilitates teacher training throughout Europe, Israel and the US. Lauren Granite, Centropa’s United States Education Director, will introduce Centropa’s website and resource database that houses over 20,000 digitized images and stories from Jews that lived in Central and Eastern Europe and the Sephardic communities in the Balkans of the early 20th century. After teachers have spent time learning about the website, they will be placed in breakout rooms to write lesson plans using Centropa’s extensive resources. The Center for Jewish Education will also provide a session for the teachers to highlight some of the wonderful e-resources and holdings in their resource library.

The afternoon session will feature JMM’s Holocaust Memory Project where our participants will examine the collages created by survivor Marsha Tishler, and will work together to interpret and make meaning of the collages. Following this activity, Marsha Tishler will share her own powerful testimony and complete the narrative of the collages.

These two days of learning for teachers will provide a breadth of resources and pedagogical techniques to examine the history and legacy of the Holocaust from different perspectives and disciplines. Our hope is that these lessons and primary sources will help teachers illicit student engagement and prompt reflections on ethical behavior, individual responsibility, and critical thinking. With the rise of antisemitism in our country and around the globe, we hope that these programs help teachers make relevant connections to today’s issues of social justice and feel confident in presenting a meaningful curriculum to, and engage in dialogue with, their students.

We are so grateful to Jerry and Judy Macks and the Joan and Joseph Klein, Jr., Foundation for their generosity and support in creating these professional development experiences for educators. And many thanks to our partners, the Baltimore Jewish Council, the Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the HERO Center, Centropa, and the Maryland State Department of Education.

~Ilene Dackman-Alon, Director of Education

Pronouns: she/her/hers


For more information about the Winter Teachers Institute 2021, please contact Ilene Dackman-Alon, idackmanalon@jewishmuseummd.org.

You can register online to participate in WTI 2021 here.

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