AMUD AISH MEMORIAL MUSEUM: SPRING 2017 NEWSLETTER
Spring is blooming at the museum: school groups have been streaming in for the Hidden Children of the Holocaust exhibition and long-term projects in Poland and Hungary are underway. All the while, we continue to deepen our knowledge of how Jews lived before, during, and after the Holocaust through new acquisitions from families eager to ensure their loved ones’ stories are told.
Amud Aish Educators Instruct Auschwitz Tour Guides:
Orthodox Jews in Nazi concentration camps secretly—and defiantly—continued to practice their faith at the risk of immediate death; and educators at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland are now expanding on the experiences of these victims thanks to a new education program we brought to their tour guides this past winter.
“The one million Jews who perished at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and those who survived, were predominantly religious. Although the war turned their lives upside down, many still maintained their beliefs. As a result, their suffering was experienced through the lens of their faith,” said Amud Aish director Rabbi Sholom Friedmann. “The new, fuller account that is now part of the education program at Auschwitz acknowledges the different ways that Orthodox Jews faced one of the worst chapters in history.”
Guides can now use some of the stories and discussion topics at six different stops during a tour. One stop includes testimonies about how Jews used barrels to clandestinely build a sukkah in Auschwitz-Buna in 1943 as well as how they secretly held prayer services and continued to wear religious garments under their uniforms.
“This initial training program was an important first step, and we look forward to doing more at Auschwitz for the next few years,” said Rabbi Friedmann.
A conversation with Director of Education, Mrs. Julie Golding:
Each year, Amud Aish’s Kleinman Holocaust Education Center (KHEC) develops a comprehensive program for schools which includes a new museum exhibition as well as engaging workshops led by trained Holocaust educators. In order to reach more children, the KHEC has developed an annual visual arts and literacy contest connected to the current exhibition. As the Director of Education since 2012, Mrs. Golding has generated multiple popular educational programs that have teachers returning with more classes every year.
What do kids get from the school program that they don’t get in their classroom?
Because we are a museum, we have access to artifacts from the era, so that the children aren’t just leafing through books, looking at pictures, or watching a video. Students are given the opportunity to interact with primary sources from the Holocaust era. For example, in our current exhibition, Hidden Children of the Holocaust, students are up close with the letters parents wrote their children, the keepsakes that were all they had of their family, and the security items that comforted them. We’ve made duplicates of some items - like a rescuer’s passport - so that children can hold things and explore history with their hands.
How is the Amud Aish perspective on the Holocaust different from other museums and how does that affect educational programs at the KHEC?
Most museums dedicated to the Holocaust focus on the perpetrators: What did the Nazis do? How did they do it? Amud Aish explores how victims and survivors lived their lives before, during, and after the Holocaust. While exploring the full history of the Holocaust, our focus on individual experiences helps students connect personally to history and also ensures that these micro-histories are not forgotten.
What do you see as the future of Holocaust education in the 21st century? What are some of the challenges and changes that we can expect?
With the increased passing of Holocaust survivors and others who can provide eyewitness accounts of Nazi brutalities, the Jewish world is at a crossroad. Educators need to ask: how do we keep the memories alive and make the information accessible and relevant to a fourth generation? At the KHEC, we have been addressing this need through a focus on object-based learning, film animation, and workshops that incorporate hands-on learning and art activities.
How can a school group sign up for a visit?
Spotlight on the current exhibition - hidden children of the holocaust:
This school year’s exhibition reveals the lives of children who spent the Holocaust in hiding - whether they were in plain sight using false identities, whisked away via the Kindertransport, or literally hiding under floorboards. The program allows students to explore -- and connect with -- the lives of children who were brave beyond their years.
Amud Aish in the News: