Antisemitism - Contemporary Application of Historical Lessons


"Once I thought that anti-Semitism had ended; today it is clear to me that it will probably never end." - Elie Wiesel, Jewish Holocaust Survivor

“Once I thought that anti-Semitism had ended; today it is clear to me that it will probably never end.” – Elie Wiesel, Jewish Holocaust Survivor

A primary goal of Echoes and Reflections is to ensure that students not only learn about the history of the Holocaust, but also its relevance in their lives and the world today.

Perhaps a no more direct contemporary connection exists to this terrible history than the continued global struggle with antisemitism. Its complexity only seems to grow, and with the advent of the Internet and social media, stereotypes, myths, and misinformation about Jews can be spread at an alarming rate.

In order to provide educational tools and opportunities for teachers in bringing this forward from the historical to the contemporary, Echoes and Reflections is pleased to offer a Contemporary Antisemitism Resource, a three-part lesson for middle and high school classrooms. “Just as teachers cannot teach the Holocaust without teaching about the history of antisemitism, we hope that they will recognize the value and importance of bringing this contemporary understanding and education into their classrooms,” explains Lindsay J. Friedman, Echoes and Reflections Partnership Director. “We know it is a complex and at times, intimidating topic, but we’ve developed the resource with this in mind, to make it as accessible to teachers and students as possible.”

Available on our website, the resource provides examples of contemporary antisemitism and a framework to examine the similarities and differences of antisemitism under the Nazi regime and now. The lesson also challenges students to consider their own actions, and highlights young activists like Leora Eisenberg, to help inspire young people to recognize the role that they can play in combatting antisemitism and bias.

anti-Israel antisemitism

Photos of protesters and flyer distributed during rally, posted on Twitter by Jonathan Hoenig

Sherry Bard, a content consultant on this project, shared that special consideration was given to help teachers address why antisemitism is a concern for people outside of the Jewish community. She explains, “Robert Wistrich, who is credited with describing antisemitism as the “longest hatred” because of its 2,000-year-old history, shared interesting insight that depending on the economic, political, and social state of the world, antisemitism and bigotry of all kinds, tend to be more or less prevalent. When societies start to fall apart, the ‘other’ begins to be targeted… We have to understand that really the ‘other’ is as easily ‘us’

As an accessible, thought provoking, and relevant resource for teachers to address an increasingly complex topic, Deborah Batiste, Echoes and Reflections ADL Project Director adds, “Antisemitism did not begin nor end with the Holocaust; it is important that students understand both the history of antisemitism and the role it plays in our lives—all of our lives —today.”

Visit the Echoes and Reflections website to access Contemporary Antisemitism in its entirety.

Upcoming Professional Development

To further provide learning opportunities on this topic,  the Echoes and Reflections’ team at Yad Vashem has worked with Ido Daniel, Director at Israeli Students Combating Antisemitism, to host a unique Enhanced Learning Opportunity webinar: Contemporary Antisemitism and Cyberhate on September 29, 2016 at 4pm Pacific Time.  In this webinar, Daniel will explore the connection between cyber-hate and hate crimes, and effective methods to combat online antisemitism and racism.

“As we know, the primary source of information—sometimes misinformation—for so many, including our students is the web,” shares Yad Vashem’s Sheryl Ochayon. “This is, sadly, a bastion for the spread of antisemitism and hatred. We are pleased to help teachers build their own understanding of these concerns, so that they can consider ways to bring this forward in their teaching.”

Register here.