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Catholic School Educators Teach about Complex Choices

 

Developed by the Anti-Defamation League, Bearing Witness is an annual professional development program designed for Catholic school educators that focuses on the history of antisemitism, the role of the Church during the Holocaust, recent changes to Catholic teachings on Jews and Judaism, and issues of prejudice in society today.

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2016 Bearing Witness Advanced Program

As a key component of Bearing Witness programs, “Echoes and Reflections is the practical piece,” shares Naomi Mayor, Director of Campus Initiatives and Education Projects at the Anti-Defamation League. At Bearing Witness, participants receive a full-day introduction to Echoes and Reflections and a copy of the Teacher’s Resource Guide.

“For educators that have difficulty getting started, finding credible information, and presenting the complexity of the Holocaust and the role of the Catholic church to their students, Echoes and Reflections is the turnkey resource,” says Mayor. “To have these tools, complete with primary source documents, is invaluable.”

In the summer of 2016, the Bearing Witness program hosted 42 participants in Washington, DC, 25 in Philadelphia, and 21 at the Advanced Program in Israel where alumni of Bearing Witness programs visited sites of historic interest to Jews and Christians, heard from experts about the contemporary and historic landscape, and visited Yad Vashem.

“With this year being, The Holy Year of Mercy, we recognize the importance of empowering students to make conscientious, informed choices.” shares Joanne Grason, Associate Director of Echoes and Reflections and participant in the 2016 Bearing Witness Advanced Program in Israel. Grason adds, “Echoes and Reflections provides Catholic school teachers with tools and resources to guide complex moral and ethical conversations related to the study of the Holocaust, discussions about how we make choices, and how these choices might impact one’s life.”

“This trip grounded me in the reality that I have to model what it means to be a learner,” reflected Deacon Rick Lanciano about his experience on the 2016 Bearing Witness Advanced Program in Israel. In emphasizing his commitment to share what he has learned and to utilize Echoes and Reflections materials to encourage his students to think critically he added, “To be a learner is to be passionate and persistent about unraveling layers of complexity so as to get closer to the truth. That is what I want to model for my students going forward.”

Contact Joanne Grason at jgrason@adl.org for more information about Echoes and Reflections professional development opportunities for Catholic school educators. Applications for next year’s Bearing Witness program will be available at the beginning of 2017.