Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Educators’ Summer Break Opens with Yad Vashem Conference

“It is essential that we successfully educate the next generations of students so that they continue to know the history and internalize the lessons of the Holocaust.”
–Orli Gamzo Letova 
Some 1,200 teachers from across Israel participated in the conference
Orli Gamzo Letova, a teacher from the Yarkon School in the center of the country was one of 1,200 teachers from across Israel who gathered at the International School for Holocaust Studies of Yad Vashem for the fifth National Educators’ Conference on Holocaust Education on 1-2 July 2013. Emphasizing what to her is the key educational purpose when teaching about the Holocaust, she described the two-day event as “well organized with a very diverse number of ideas in how to approach education regarding the Shoah."

Israeli Education Minister Rabbi Shay Piron addresses the teachers
The goal of the conference was to create dialogue and commitment to Holocaust education among teachers and help provide the educational tools to effectively teach students of different age groups, each according to their different needs. The conference, which consisted of over 140 workshops and lectures, took place in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Education and Teachers’ Union, and with the generous support of the Azrieli Foundation, the Claims Conference and the Adelson Family Foundation. One of the central themes discussed in length dealt with the appropriate methods in which educators should endow the lessons and memory of the Holocaust for future generations. Among the wide variety of lectures offered and topics discussed were the use of Holocaust imagery in political cartoons, Holocaust in the media, theater and the performing arts during the Holocaust and the choice of music played during Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day. In addition, some 25 Holocaust survivors shared their stories with the teachers in a more intimate setting so as to provide them with a firsthand account of personal testimonies.  
Conference participants with Chairman of the Yad Vashem
Directorate Avner Shalev second from left
Israeli Education Minister Rabbi Shay Piron and Chairman of Yad Vashem Avner Shalev also addressed the teachers concerning the importance of Holocaust instruction and the way in which it should be implemented in the Israeli education system. Referring to the fact that there currently is not a single, widespread, cohesive organized program for Holocaust education in schools, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev said that, “The fact that more than 1,200 teachers came here during the start of summer vacation is reflective of the need, recognized from the bottom up by teachers and students, for value-based ​​education concerning the Holocaust. I believe that the challenge to build a program within the education system is one we can overcome. There is no doubt of the need for a program that can be implemented in the education system.”

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