Thursday, August 2, 2012

Summer professional development seminar

I have just returned from New York City and the Holocaust Memorial Library’s Summer Seminar for teachers.  The library was established by Auschwitz survivor Olga Lengyel whose dream it was to never forget the victims of the Holocaust.  The Holocaust Educators Network or HEN works out of Olga’s home to give teachers from all over the nation an opportunity to learn and collaborate about teaching the Holocaust.  

This summer teachers shared experiences like attending a Shabbat service and dinner, visits to the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Jewish Museum, a whole day session with Holocaust survivor Irving Roth, sessions with Stuart Liebman, Professor Emeritus of Queens College and the Graduate Center of CUNY and a renown historian of media studies, several second generation speakers, and face to face dialogue with authors, artists and musicians.  Participants spent time presenting and listening to each other’s Holocaust lessons as well as the writings and reflections that came out of our 9:00am – 9:00pm days.  

I have attended many conferences and seminars on the Holocaust and the Civil War in the past decade.  Never have I been treated with such dignity, respect and admiration as the Memorial Library treated me with during these intense two weeks of study.  I had lots of questions as I started this seminar and many got answered.  I left with new questions that only work and study and reading for a lifetime will answer.  All I know is that I have a renewed passion to teach this important and difficult topic.  Making the Holocaust relevant to my students so that together we can strive for social justice in our troubled world has always been and will remain my goal.  Olga would truly be proud of the library and teachers’ efforts.

Note: Olga Lengyel's memoir, Five Chimneys, is available for free loan from the MCHE Resource Center.

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