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From the Desk of the Center for Humanistic Education

“Though the storm is ever mounting,” the Center for Humanistic Education continues determinately to carve a unique path – forging an educational connection between the Holocaust and democratic values and an Israeli-Arab dialogue directed toward a joint existence.  Out of an intensive array of activities, we have chosen to focus on three:

”Medicine and Humanism in the Context of the Multi-Cultural Dialogue in Israel” — Study days for medical students specializing in family medicine, in the framework of advanced studies at the Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion. Working in close cooperation with the heads of this track, we developed a two-day program. The first day was held at the Technion and dealt with the multi-cultural life of the participants — both as doctors and as ordinary Israelis. The program combined inter-personal dialogue with professional discourse, both of which demand a willingness to deal with differences with the “Other.” The second day was held at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum and focused on the universal aspects of the Holocaust — the highlight of the day being a visit to the new exhibition “Deadly Medicine.”

 

Some one hundred participants, including academic staff, took part in the study days organized by the staff of the Center for Humanistic Education. Below are excerpts from the concluding session with group coordinators:

“The study days were successful. The group was exposed to a deep and important subject, which deserves attention. In particular, the participants appreciated the sensitive and non-judgmental way in which the facilitators led the sessions. At first, the atmosphere was charged, but thanks to the professionalism of the staff, the subjects were discussed with sensitivity.” 

“We learned a lot on both days. We discussed numerous subjects, which we had not given attention to before, such as political and religious perspectives. The study days gave us the opportunity to talk and open up, and this allowed me to get to know the members of the group better.”

“The participants all learned something that they hadn’t known before about the members of the group.  The experience of discussing political and social subjects from a personal point of view was something new. An open debate developed on issues of personal, social, and national identity.”

“The teaching staff was able to have a discussion on subjects that we tend not to talk about on a daily basis. It is rare to hold such study days, and it is something very unique in the academic world.” 

Holocaust education in Arab schools run by the Ministry of Economy— Out of 60 vocational schools run by the Ministry of Economy, 20 are in the Arab sector. From these, 16 chose to do their mandatory Holocaust studies at the Center for Humanistic Education. The Center’s team of Arab facilitators developed a program catering specifically to this population of students.  During the three-day program, the students take part in workshops on the Nazi takeover of Germany, on its racist doctrines and discrimination against the Jews, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the ‘Final Solution.” The history of this era is made relevant to the lives of the students through a discussion on stereotypes, racism, and social exclusion. To date, some 500 11th grade students have completed the course, and another 400 are enrolled for this year. The students come from villages and towns from the north of the country to the Triangle area; they are Muslims, Christians, and Druze. This is a new target population for the Center for Humanistic Education, and we are proud that so many schools chose us among the many Holocaust institutions listed by the Ministry of Economy.

Annual Spring Seminar — “Dialogue Between Neighbors” — Some one hundred Arab and Jewish youngsters from 10 schools took part in the three-day seminar that involved discussions, arguments, games, shows, and time spent together. The whole seminar was devoted to promoting in-depth knowledge and dialogue with the “Other.” The seminar was attended by students who had terminated the first stage of the educational program consisting of three months study on the Holocaust and its meaning for us today. 

The seminar program also included studies on the family- and community history of the participants, discussion of current events, interpersonal acquaintance, and the formulation of ideas for continued joint activities.

Here is an excerpt from the feedback given by a Jewish participant to his Arab facilitator at the conclusion of the seminar:

“Ahlan, kif halak, I wanted to thank you for the three days I experienced with you. I enjoyed them very much. You taught me things I would not have learned anywhere else, in particular acceptance of those who are different from me and have different views. I do not have enough words to thank you, and I hope that we will meet again in the future.” 

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