Some 120 Yad Vashem graduates from schools around Italy recently took part in an advanced online seminar entitled “Voices from the Ghetto.”
Part of a series of activities offered by Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies to deepen the knowledge of subjects related to the Shoah, “Voices from the Ghetto” was introduced to the teachers in cooperation with Figli della Shoah, a Holocaust-education association based in Milan.
After introductory words by Figli della Shoah President Daniela Dana Tedeschi, Yad Vashem educator Yiftach Meiri delivered the first session, which was devoted to the wider history of the ghetto and the multiple forms this phenomenon has taken throughout history: In particular, the session focused on the unique elements of the Nazi ghetto and the variety of its manifestations. Dr. Katarzyna Person from the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, the author of a critically acclaimed monography on the Jewish police in the Warsaw ghetto, then discussed the lawyers, engineers, young yeshiva graduates, and sons of connected businessmen who, in the fall of 1940, joined the ghetto's newly formed Jewish Order Service. Dr. Rocco Giansante, Head of Educational Programs in Italy and Estonia in the International School's Overseas Training and Development Department lectured on the Lodz ghetto, focusing on the role that photography played in the construction of its image.
Dr. Giansante showed how the analysis of the photos taken by Henryk Ross and other Jewish photographers allows for a better understanding of the life inside the ghetto: not just because they portray the extremely difficult living conditions but, more importantly, because they document the spiritual resistance of many of the ghetto residents to the reality imposed by the Nazis.
The closing event of the series was a meeting with Holocaust survivor Dr. Avraham Peter, who relayed his experiences inside the Lodz ghetto. "Avraham's testimony, carrying the memories of the ghetto, brought an additional dimension to the seminar – not only the study of the facts but also a direct encounter with the history of the Shoah," said Dr. Noa Mkayton, Director of the Overseas Training and Development Department at the International School.
"Seminars like this strengthen the Yad Vashem community of teachers and educators, especially during the trying times of the pandemic that make it difficult for our partners to come to Israel."
Participants were extremely pleased with the seminar and the wealth of knowledge they gained. “Thank you for the lesson [on the Lodz ghetto], it was so interesting and touching,” wrote Rossana Veneziano from Desio, while Antonella Bizioli of Zelo Buon Persico asked: “Can we add more lectures to this series?” Simone Evangelisti from Tirano praised the seminar, claiming it gave him “many ideas to work on” in the classroom.