Blitstein Institute for Women of Hebrew Theological College, Associated Talmud Torahs of Chicago, and the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center collaborated on a project that hosted the Yad Vashem International School of Holocaust Studies for three days of meaningful learning to teach educators how to teach the Holocaust from a Torah perspective.
The program began Sunday evening with an inspirational presentation to the public by Rabbi Daniel J. Raccah, Rabbi of Ohel Shalom Torah Center and Dayan at the CRC, on addressing the Hashkafic questions of the Holocaust. Rabbi Raccah was followed by Mr. Larry Yellin, a U.S. Army veteran and camp liberator who discussed his memories of his life-changing service as a United States infantryman during and right after the war. After his riveting and moving eyewitness account, Dr. Robert Rozett, senior historian at Yad Vashem presented a historical overview of the forces and beliefs that made it possible for the German nation and their collaborators to perpetrate the Holocaust. The public session was well attended by close to 200 people.
On Monday and Tuesday, an educator institute was held in the museum. Close to 40 educators learned and discussed in-depth theological approaches of the Holocaust, historical overviews of specific aspects of the holocaust such as the destruction of Hungarian Jewry and the varied aspects of liberation. The teachers learned about the many forms of resistance and heroism – both spiritual and physical, a meaningful discussion of the mentality of the oppressors and the oppressed, an examination of the world response and challenges to Jewish emigration and immigration, and an exploration of the resilience and the rebuilding of the Jewish community after the war. Educators were provided with specific pedagogic resources, including film, interactive text and graphics, diaries, and first-person accounts that can be used to actively engage students.
Distinguished speakers for the educational institute included:
Rabbi Moshe Cohn, International School of Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem
Rabbi Reuven Gross, Rav of Sha’arei Tzedek Mishkan Yair
Rabbi Michael A. Myers, Hebrew Theological College
Rabbi Avrohom Shimon Moller, Associated Talmud Torahs of Chicago
Rabbi Binyomin Olstein, Hebrew Theological College
Rabbi Daniel Raccah, Ohel Shalom Torah Center, Dayan at CRC
Dr. Rob Rozett, YadVashem
Kelley Szany, Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center
We thank the generous sponsors of this extremely significant and valuable symposium: Mr. Rudolph Tessler, The Hartman Family, The Davis Family, The Rajchenbach Family, and Associated Talmud Torahs.