by Donna Tarney
Eighty years ago Hitler “took back” the country of Austria. This was the first move in his quest to conquer all of Europe and create his Third Reich. Eighty years is a long time! Since that moment in history, we have gone to the moon, created a global economy, and brought a universe of information into our very laps. So why do we continue to encourage educators to teach about the Holocaust? Because these eighty-year-old lessons are incredibly relevant today.
In our own country, politics and religion are creating deep divides between groups of people who would normally work together for stronger communities. In Europe, antisemitism is on the rise, as evidenced by the recent murder of Holocaust survivor, Mireille Knoll. Mireille was an 85 year old grandmother living in France, who rebuilt her life while carrying the burden and joy of surviving the Holocaust. Her murder makes it clear exactly how much hatred still exists against the Jewish people and how far some will go to express their hate. It is imperative upon all educators to address this topic.
At the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice, the word Holocaust is not in our title, but it is the heart of all we strive to do. Working with educators and students allows us to impact the future with lessons from the past. Our purpose is to allow students to encounter this material in ways that help them make connections to the present in order to shape a more just future for all people. In the coming months, we are offering two programs that could help you bring these lessons to life for your students.
The first program is brand new. One Human Family Holocaust and Human Rights Program starts with a story of resistance and resilience. It centers on the story of Walter Suskind, a Jewish man who navigated the intricacies of the Nazi bureaucracy to save thousands of children. Thanks to a grant by the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte, this program is customizable to your school setting. There are 6 different breakout sessions designed to explore the topics and themes found in the movie on Suskind’s life:
- Jewish identity through belief and practice
- Antisemitism: past and present
- Resistance: physical and spiritual
- Race and overcoming bias
- Immigrants and the experience of being “other”, and,
- An art component centered around identity.
The program can be a half day or full day experience for your school. This program is provided at no cost to you, thanks to the Jewish Federation. Spots for April and May are limited. Please contact us soon to reserve your place. Tarneyd@queens.edu.
The second program is in its second year and is aimed at educators in middle school, high school, and college. The Olga Lengyel Institute (TOLI) Summer Satellite Program is a week long, cross curricular exploration of topics related both to the Holocaust and to local human rights issues. This year, the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice at Queens University of Charlotte is thrilled to host this program from July 16 – 20, 2018. Spaces are limited. The only cost associated with this program is lodging on campus at a discounted rate. All meals are provided. Please visit the application site for more detailed information. https://www.toli.us/satellite-program/charlotte-nc/