Teachers congregate across the campus
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01 July 2015
This conference came at a new juncture: We are interested not only in how we teach the Holocaust, but how that event has influenced every field of education - history, philosophy, social studies and more."
At the beginning of July, over 1200 educators from across Israel attended the sixth biannual National Teachers' Conference on Holocaust Education. Under the banner, "When the Gates Opened: The Effects of the Holocaust on the Individual, Society, and Thought," the conference focused on the questions that arose after liberation, when the dimensions of the unprecedented disaster that had befallen the Jewish people started to become clear, and the long and painful journey back to life began.
The conference was opened by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, and included lectures from experts, panels, discussion groups and workshops on the latest pedagogical advances, as well as guided tours of the campus for all the participants.
Shulamit Imber, Pedagogical Director of the International School and Fred Hillman Chair in Memory of Janusz Korczak explained the idea behind the chosen theme of the conference: "Holocaust education has gone through many different stages over the decades since the end of the war," she explained. "At first, it was important to simply tell the story of the Shoah, to make sure the correct information was being disseminated. The second stage was a determined effort to teach about the event in a more three-dimensional way: to show the faces of the individual victims - who they were before the war - and understand their struggles to maintain their human spirit during the cataclysm of the Holocaust. Today, however, the Shoah is about more than memory. It has become a focal point, a reference, for so many areas of life - in our day-to-day interactions with a diverse, global society. This conference, therefore, came at a new juncture: We are interested not only in how we teach the Holocaust, but how that event has influenced every field of education - history, philosophy, social studies and more."
The second day of the conference featured a special gathering of Holocaust survivors whose lifetime achievements reflect Israeli society as a whole - rabbis, judges, pilots, doctors, teachers, historians, artists and more.
"We invited the survivors to talk about how, despite their terrible experiences, they managed to rebuild their lives and move the world forward in a positive direction. We want the hundreds of teachers that teach thousands of students to be aware of the incredible contribution the survivors made to the building of our state and society."
Dr. Eyal Kaminka, Lily Safra Chair of Holocaust Education and Director of the International School for Holocaust Studies