Today, Italian Minister of Education and Research Francesco Profumo visited Yad Vashem. During the visit, the Minister met with Italian educators who are currently participating in a teacher-training seminar at Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies, as well as with Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. Thirty outstanding Italian high school students who have written essays on the Holocaust, and have completed educational projects related to the memory of the Holocaust, accompanied the Minister. The group spent over 3 hours at Yad Vashem, including an emotional tour of the Holocaust History Museum and meeting with senior educational staff at Yad Vashem.
The visit is intended to strengthen the agreement that was signed last year by Israeli minister of Education Gideon Sa'ar and the Italian Ministry of Education.
Chairman Shalev welcomed the Minister, and noted that, “We are already seeing the fruits of the agreement that was signed by Minister Gideon Sa’ar and the Italian Ministry of Education. Yad Vashem is prepared to provide educators with the best tools and knowledge in order to promote Holocaust education in Italy.”
According to the agreement, Italian teachers will be trained in teaching the Holocaust. There will also be a youth exchange program between Israel and Italy. As part of the agreement, each year the Italian Ministry of Education will choose teachers who will undergo training at Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies. These educators will then teach the subject at high schools throughout Italy. This week’s Italian educators’ seminar is the third such seminar this year at Yad Vashem.
Shalev pointed out that, “Paradoxically, as the events of the Shoah recede in time, it has become more meaningful. Prof. Israel Gutman has often remarked that the Holocaust refuses to be a part of history; indeed it hovers around us, as part of our culture. It is important that educators - those shaping our culture and our future - confront it, as they are preparing future generations to be the citizens of tomorrow's society.”
The Minister said he is personally committed to deepening and broadening Holocaust education in Italy, and said that Yad Vashem epitomizes the proper approach to developing a culture of Holocaust remembrance, which Italy should and is adopting via long-term contact with Yad Vashem.
Dr. Iael Nidam-Orvieto spoke about the importance of keeping the personal story in the historical context of the Holocaust while teaching in an age appropriate manner. How to teach a trauma, without causing trauma, is at the center of the pedagogical approach of Yad Vashem.
“The memory of what happened then is part of European civilization. It not only concerns the past, but also the present and the future,” said Minister Profumo at the conclusion of his visit, “We don’t want to go back to a time when Man became an object.”