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Ten Years of Seminars for Jewish Educators from the CIS

Since 2002, the Ghetto Fighters’ House has conducted an annual program for Jewish educators from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) as part of a joint initiative together with the Jewish Agency and Yad Vashem. Conceptualized by the late Pinchas Agmon, founding director of the Russian Department at the Ghetto Fighters’ House, the seminar aims to prepare teachers for educating Jewish youth throughout the former Soviet Union.

The 29 members of the delegation were the guests of the Ghetto Fighters’ House on November 5-13, 2012, after spending several days at Yad Vashem. The program, created jointly with Yad Vashem, was designed to have each institution address the subjects of its choice. Participants reflected a range of ages and came from diverse countries in the CIS: Ukraine, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Belarus, and others. Some are history teachers in schools, while several of the younger participants work as counselors in Jewish Agency summer camps.

The seminar included learning about the museum’s exhibitions;  meeting with the Archive curator; a workshop in the library on “Roots – Jewish Communities of the Past”; testimony from Masha, who described her childhood in the ghetto and in hiding; a workshop with Lena Makarova on Holocaust art as resistance, with a focus on Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and her work in the Terezin Ghetto; and a workshop on the educational activity of Janusz Korczak. Participants also heard a fascinating presentation by Ron Cohen, Director of Education,  on “Photography during the Holocaust”.

Participants learned about Yad LaYeled from Anat Carmel, the director, and about the Center for Humanistic Education from Raya Kalisman, founder and director – an encounter that stimulated many questions.

Anat Livne, the General Director of Ghetto Fighters’ House, met with the group and spoke of the connection with GFH and cooperation continued after their return home.

Ms. Rina Zaslavsky of the Jewish Agency attended the final session to meet the participants and hear their feedback, which was both practical and positive:  “We grew closer together here”, “there was a homelike atmosphere”, “we acquired tools for our work”, “you motivated us to do research, make a difference, and not be apathetic to our surroundings”.

While in the Western Galilee, the participants toured the kibbutz and learned about the changes in the kibbutz movement in recent years.  They also visited Acre and mystical Safed.


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