Sunday, January 19, 2014

My Lost World -- Personalizing Holocaust Education

Institutions and educators have struggled for the past 70 years to bring the concept of a "Lost World" to Holocaust education in a way that students can identify withn it. A recent class with Temple Emanuel students explored methods of engaging the students in an interactive give-and-take that promotes sensitivity to a world that previously seemed distant.

A sample community, the Hassidic community which lost a large percentage of its members during the Holocaust, was examined. The students viewed a video about Hassidim and considered Hassidic values which center on family, spirituality, modesty, joy in life, holiday celebrations, pride in heritage and looking at the good in everything that happens. The teachers elicited the similarity between these Hassidic values and the students' own values. 

The students created a canvas on a linoboard that summarized some of what they learned about Hassidim, and to present their thoughts about their unique lifestyle and beliefs.

The lesson continued with a look at Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira -- known as Eish Kodesh, an exceptional Jewish leader who lived and died in the Warsaw Ghetto. The students were presented with a Google document that gave an outline of Rabbi Shapira's life. They were asked to comment on different facets of his life, including why he was called the "Eish Kodesh"

Smadar announced to the students that she is planning to visit their classroom in a few weeks to meet with them and learn together face-to-face, and asked them to begin to think about an artifact to donate to a class scrapbook that will showcase the students' Holocaust studies.

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