Despite the deteriorating security situation in Israel, hundreds of educators from across the world attended the 9th International Conference on Holocaust Education at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies from July 7-10, 2014.
Shawntelle Nesbitte, a teacher and curriculum developer from Canada was very impressed by the level and depth of information presented at the conference. She described it as "successfully building on the previous conference which I attended in 2010. I really appreciated the generational distinctions made regarding Holocaust education and the presentation of the different educational approaches throughout the years, especially the focus placed on the third and fourth generations so that we as teachers can better understand the challenges we face in providing quality education."
The conference entitled "Through Our Own Lens: Reflecting on the Holocaust from Generation to Generation" included some 450 participants from 50 countries across the globe including China, Poland, Argentina, Canada, Namibia, Venezuela, Greece, and Spain and was split into three sections: the purpose of Holocaust documentation on the part of the first and second generations; how the events of the Shoah continue to find significance in the lives of those born afterwards; and the future of Holocaust education and remembrance among the youth of today – and tomorrow. The conference's panels, discussions and lectures were presented by prominent guest speakers including internationally renowned authors, filmmakers, theologians, world-class historians and technology experts which primarily focused on this central theme of generational responsibility in the perpetuation of Holocaust remembrance and education.
Opening remarks were given by Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council. During the course of the conference participants also had the opportunity to hear from many lecturers and moderators including Justice Gavriel Bach, former deputy prosecutor in the prosecution of Adolf Eichmann, Professor Yehuda Bauer, Academic Advisor to Yad Vashem, Holocaust survivor and author Professor Rabbi David Halivni, historian and author Professor Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, and an interview with Serge Klarsfeld, who led prosecutions against Nazis and their collaborators, conducted by his son Arno Klarsfeld.
In order to make the conference more accessible for educators who were unable to attend in person, a live stream was available for people from around the world to view the plenary sessions on the International School's website. A recording of many of the conference's sessions can be viewed here.
Each part of the conference was designed to examine the unique role of Holocaust survivors, and the second, third and fourth generations, in sustaining effective and meaningful Holocaust education for various age groups as well as meet the many challenges currently faced and those anticipated in the future.
"As the events of the Shoah are rapidly receding into history, it is incumbent upon us to explore how each generation has grappled with, and continues to find significance in, the implications of the Holocaust,” said Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev. "As our documentation efforts continue to evolve with the many technological advances that have made the presentation of information more accessible to a wide array of audiences, our responsibility in continuing to shape and inform the future of Holocaust commemoration and education remains as vital and relevant as ever."
The conference was made possible by the generous support of the Asper Foundation, Adelson Family Fund and Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies conducts dozens of seminars annually for educators from around the world, and produces educational material in over 20 different languages. Established in 1993, the International School is a world leader in Shoah education; working to implement educational activities for different target populations and age groups in Israel and abroad.