The conference , once again, has afforded me the opportunity to meet fellow dedicated and passionate educators from all backgrounds and from many cities in the USA.
Day one was dedicated to approaches in teaching the Holocaust , so we SKYPED with Shulamit Imber from yad Vashem. I have been fortunate to have worked with Shulamit before while I was at Yad Vashem last summer. She reiterated the focus on Not teaching kids what to think but teaching them HOW to think. The lecture was followed by an intense and concise history of antisemitism beginning with the era before Christ. Kenneth Jacobson, ADL deputy National Director and author of several books, painted a picture that explored the seeds of prejudice , the use of propaganda, and the political climates that propagated the antisemitism that exists even today.
Today we used the ECHOES curriculum to use several lessons in the unit of The Lodz Ghetto. The highlight of the day was the lecture and presentation of Scott Miller author of Refuge Denied:The Saint Louis Passengers and the Holocaust . Miller spent eight years researching, often knocking on doors, putting ads in newpapers, giving lectures all in pursuit of finding out what happened to each and every passenger on that ship which carried 936 German Jews out of Germany and whom were denied entry into the USA or any port. What was extraordinary was that I have always ( as well as many others) thought that when the shipped returned to Hamburg, most if not all of the passengers perished in the camps. After Miller's extensive research he accounted for each and every person on board the ship. He started with the original manifest of passengers, and found out that about 350 people , did lose their lives, but the majority of passengers survived. He recalled several individual stories of how he came to learn the fate of people who actually resided in Washington Heights NY that survived the St Louis, many WERE deported to Auschwitz, and survived - each surviving in different ways: luck, being hidden, sent to labor camps etc. We were all given a copy of is book.
The afternoon was spent doing hands on activities using both Echoes and I WITNESS; a site created by the USC Shoah foundation. We worked on the Moral choices segment of the resource.
The evening was on our own and I was able meet with several people who are attending the Memorial Library conference, and whom I had traveled to Europe with in 2010. We walked around the city, taking in the sights of 42nd street, Times Sq, Broadway, and all the streets between. We stopped for a bite to eat and went our way.... Ironically we will be meeting tomorrow as both seminars will be at the Jewish Heritage Museum.