Mrs. Chani Friedman, Director of the ATT’s Barbakoff Department of Teacher Education and veteran Jewish history teacher, presented a series of Holocaust learning experiences to Joan Dachs Bais Yaakov’s 8th grade class. This special interactive age-appropriate curriculum, designed as part of The ATT’s Kirsche Department of Holocaust Studies, provides a historical context to Mr. Israel Starck’s biography, A Boy Named 68818 which the students are studying in their language arts curriculum.
In six classes, Mrs. Friedman outlined the history and geography of the Holocaust as well as hashkafic perspectives of that dark period in our history. She used numerous inspirational survivor stories as a foundation for discussion to enhance student participation and reflection. Included were examples from Mr. Starck’s book along with stories of rescuers and Jewish resilience (both physical and spiritual). The students left with the message of the importance and uniqueness of every single individual and how we are all a link in the chain of the eternity of the Jewish people. The unit culminated with a presentation by Mr. Starck to the students and a class visit to the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center led by Mrs. Friedman.
The ATT’s Department of Holocaust Studies was founded in 1999, by Mr. Sandor z”l and Mrs. Margit Kirsche, both Holocaust survivors who rebuilt their lives in the United States, to assure that Chicago’s day school students know and remember the sacrifice of those who endured the horrors of the Holocaust. The department is housed at ATT which is the central agency to support and provide professional guidance to Chicago Orthodox day schools. The department develops curriculum, plans activities and trains teachers to teach this important part of our people’s history. It also sponsors community events, most notably educational symposia and the annual Tisha B’Av event to further the community’s knowledge and reflection on the destruction wrought on our people during Churban Europe.