The American Society for Yad Vashem Education Department sponsors seminars and conferences to equip educators with the resources needed to teach the Holocaust. Our aim is to provide educators with a better understanding of how to transmit the lessons of the Holocaust to present and future generations. We offer assistance in coordinating commemorative programs and professional development workshops on the Holocaust for educators. We offer numerous traveling exhibitions, which have been produced in collaboration with Yad Vashem and which have been showcased in the United Nations as well as in museums, universities and public institutions nationwide.
BARBARA GUTFREUND ARFA CONFERENCE
Our annual Barbara Gutfreund Arfa Professional Development Conference on Holocaust Education provides educators with innovative resources and techniques to teach students about the Holocaust. We also highlight educational resource materials developed by the International School for Holocaust Studies of Yad Vashem.
The Conference’s impact is effective and dramatic: over its 22 year history, the Conference, through its thousands of participants, has touched more than 100,000 students. In 2019, over 190 educators attended the Conference, which was organized by Marlene Warshawski Yahalom, PhD, Director of Education of the American Society. The Conference represents a continued collaborative effort among the American Society, the Association of Teachers of Social Studies of the United Federation of Teachers, the Educators’ Chapter of the UFT Jewish Heritage Committee, and the School of Education of Manhattanville College.
For the Conference and its other educational works, the American Society received the 2015 President’s Award for its contributions to social studies education nationally. The award commends the American Society for implementing best educational practices in using documents, inquiry, critical thinking and action for studying the Holocaust. The Conference is one of many educational programs developed by the American Society for Yad Vashem.
The Conference is named in memory of Barbara Gutfreund Arfa, z’l, a longstanding supporter of the American Society. It is sponsored by the Barbara Gutfreund Arfa Endowment Fund for Holocaust Education, which was created by Harvey Arfa and Caroline and Morris Massel as a tribute to Barbara Arfa’s commitment to Holocaust education. It sponsors the Conference and other important educational initiatives.
Through our Education Department and the work of our Director of Education, Marlene W. Yahalom, PhD., we offer:
- Regional Professional Development Conferences for Educators in the Tri-State area
- On-Site Professional Development Workshops
- Pages of Testimony Workshops
- Traveling Exhibitions
- Curriculum Units on the Holocaust
- Holocaust Remembrance and Commemoration Programs
- Speaker and Community Events
- Collaborative events with Yad Vashem Jerusalem
- Co-Sponsorships with National and International Holocaust Education Organizations
We have an array of traveling exhibits that are appropriate for commemoration programs, professional development workshops and classroom instruction. Each exhibit includes an introduction to the specific theme of the exhibit, a narrative and explanation about the exhibit and recommendation how to incorporate this resource into the classroom. These exhibits are also appropriate and widely used for commemorative events and public programs.
- Architecture Of Murder – this exhibit displays the original blueprints of the Auschwitz Birkenau complex. The exhibit also includes, maps, drawings, and photographs of the planning stages of Auschwitz. The original documents were found in an apartment in Berlin in 2008 and were donated to Yad Vashem in 2009 by Bild and Axel Springer. The information was verified by the German Military Archives and the Auschwitz Memorial.
- No Childs Play – This exhibition opens a window into the world of children during the Holocaust. Unlike other Holocaust related exhibitions, it does not focus on statistics or descriptions of physical violence. Instead images of toys, games, artwork, diaries and poems are displayed to provide a glimpse into the lives of children during the Holocaust.
- BESA – This exhibition is about the ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ – non-Jews who risked their lives saving Jews during the Holocaust. It is comprised of portraits and text about Muslim families in Albania, who saved Jews during the Holocaust, converging between two seemingly opposed worlds. The remarkable assistance afforded to Jews during this time as grounded in BESA, the code of honor which still exists today. This help should be understood as a matter of national honor. These acts originated from compassion, loving-kindness and a desire to help those is need, even those of another faith or origin.
- Private Tolkachev – This exhibition is an artistic portrayal of the work of Private Zinovil Tolkachev, and how his work embodies the creative essence of one who arrived at the gates of hell in a red army uniform. His art was chartered on the wings of the Bolshevik Revolution and was created in conviction of its justness. Tolkachev’s work is a deep and thorough artistic portrayal of the suffering of the Jewish people and his bond with the Jewish people.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOPS
And You Shall Tell Your Children: Spiritual Resistance through Survivor Testimonies
This workshop introduces strategies to educators how to use survivor testimonies and pages of testimony as a resource for studying the Holocaust through themes that are emphasized in Orthodox Jewish Day School curricula. The value of these testimonies as an educational resource is examined and the unique contributions of testimonies as a source of information about spiritual resistance and survival is presented in the context of Jewish tradition. The connection between Jewish history, remembrance and commemoration is also discussed.
Holocaust and Human Rights in the Classroom – strategies and cross-connections
This workshop offers recommendations for cross-connections of subjects taught in the classroom: history and global studies, math, English, and art and theatre, and explores the value of survivors testimonies for use as part of the lesson plans on studying the Holocaust and Human Rights. The value of primary testimony, documents and other forms of primary sources are also reviewed in connection to studying the Holocaust. Challenges to Holocaust remembrance are also introduced; Holocaust denial, and the aging and shrinking population of Holocaust survivors. This topic is also looked at in the context Genocide and Human Rights as we understand this subject with other historical examples. Character building, bullying and hate crimes are also explored as part of this workshop presentation.
Challenges of Holocaust Denial – the Internet and Beyond
This workshop reviews Holocaust Denial and the dangers it presents to Holocaust memory, history and Jewish history. Participants are introduced to strategies for classroom use to enable them to effectively teach this topic to help students identify Holocaust denial and distinguish between actual and created information about this important topic in history. Websites on Holocaust denial are also identified explored that serve to confuse and distort information about the Holocaust. Resource materials will be distributed to all participants.
Petr Ginz and Ilan Ramon – Historical and Generational Connections
This workshop introduces the student to the Holocaust through one of its most innocent victims – the children. Participants will learn about the unique and meaningful connections between Petr Ginz – victim of Terezinstadt – and Ilan Ramon – Israel’s first astronaut to join NASA in the ill-fated space shuttle mission of 2003. Educators will learn about the unique opportunity to teach about the Holocaust through science and space while simultaneously introducing students to the value of documents and artifacts as part of this connection.
Pages of Testimony – the Importance of Historical Documentation
This workshop introduces the participant to Yad Vashem, its mission and contributions to Holocaust research, documentation, commemoration and remembrance. Pages of Testimony are examined as a resource to preserve the facts of this event for eternity. This workshop includes many themes relevant for classroom use: the relevance of history, honoring the victims, documentation and its connection to Jewish history, ideas for commemorative programs and activities for Yom Hashoah, and how to make this topic meaningful for students of all ages and educators of all grade levels.
For more information:
Marlene W. Yahalom, PhD
Director of Education