Echoes & Reflections Unit 11 - Contemporary Antisemitism | Echoes & Reflections
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Our Lesson Plans provide a unique experience for educators to teach about the Holocaust effectively and interactively. Lessons are organized by topics that represent major themes associated with the Holocaust in an order that is roughly chronological; the modular design of the Lessons allows for adaption and customization to specific grade levels and subject areas. The integration of rich content in each Lesson helps students construct an authentic and comprehensive portrait of the past as they frame their own thoughts about what they are learning, resulting in a deeper level of interest and inquiry. Each lesson includes:
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December 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, which depicts the true story of Oskar Schindler—a man who saved the lives of more than 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust. It was Spielberg’s experience making this film that inspired him to collect and preserve the testimonies of over 54,000 Holocaust survivors and witnesses, a pursuit which ultimately led to the creation of what is now USC Shoah Foundation.

In honor of Universal Pictures’ rerelease of Schindler’s List, Echoes & Reflections has created a short, classroom-ready Companion Resource, that will help educators to provide important historical background and context to the film, as well as explore powerful true stories of rescue, survival, and resilience with their students.

Additionally, the following videos, recorded at Yad Vashem, feature Schindler survivors who speak of the impact Oskar Schindler had on their lives.

Eva Lavi was the youngest survivor from Schindler’s list. She was two years old when the war began.
Nahum Manor met and fell in love with his wife, Genia, in Schindler’s factory. Watch him read a letter at Schindler’s gravesite, expressing what he meant to them.

Visit the IWitness page commemorating the 25th anniversary of Schindler’s List for numerous additional resources to support teaching with this film.

Echoes & Reflections is excited to announce the launch of our new poster series: Inspiring the Human Story, for which teachers can request one free set (three posters) for their classrooms.

The posters (each 24’x 36’), feature the words and experiences of Holocaust survivor and memoirist Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor Kurt Messerschmidt, and Anne Frank rescuer, Miep Gies. Each promotes meaningful conversation and reflection in the classroom and inspires students with powerful human stories of the Holocaust that can continue to guide and inform their steps forward.

To support you in these efforts, we have also compiled several suggested classroom activities from teachers in our network that may be of use and interest.

Order your set today at no cost!

Please note: In order to reach the maximum number of teachers with this limited opportunity, we are only able to provide one poster set per teacher. Additionally, we are only able to send poster sets to US addresses.

We are currently not taking orders at this time. Please check back for future opportunities.


USC Shoah Foundation’s first podcast, We Share The Same Sky, seeks to brings the past into present through a granddaughter’s decade-long journey to retrace her grandmother’s story of survival. We Share The Same Sky tells the two stories of these women—the grandmother, Hana, a refugee who remained one step ahead of the Nazis at every turn, and the granddaughter, Rachael, on a search to retrace her grandmother’s history.

A self-portrait of Rachael while she is living on a Danish farm that is owned by the granddaughter of Hana’s foster mother from World War II. Photo by Rachael Cerrotti, 2017

In order to enhance its classroom use, USC Shoah Foundation and Echoes & Reflections have created a Companion Educational Resource to support teachers as they introduce the podcast to their students. This document provides essential questions for students, as well as additional resources and content to help build context and framing for students’ understanding of the historical events addressed in the podcast.

Access to the podcast, as well as additional supporting materials—including IWitness student activities, academic standards alignment, and general strategies for teaching with podcasts—can all be found at the We Share The Same Sky page in IWitness.

Note: Due to the subject nature, the podcast is appropriate for older students, grades 10-12. As always, teachers should review the content fully in advance to determine its appropriateness for their student population.

After many years of research and digitizing the archive her grandmother left behind, Rachael set out to retrace her grandmother’s 17 years of statelessness. Her intention was to travel via the same modes of transportation and to live similar style lives as to what her grandmother did during the war and in the years after. That meant that when she got to Denmark, she moved to a farm. Rachael moved in with the granddaughter of her grandmother’s foster mother from World War II and traded her labor for room and board as Hana once did. This picture is from that first visit in the winter of 2015. Since this time, Rachael has spent many more months living on this farm. It is owned by Sine Christiansen and her family. Sine is the granddaughter of Jensine, one Hana’s foster mother from World War II. Photo by Rachael Cerrotti, 2015

A self portrait of Rachael overlooking the exact spot in Southern Sweden where her grandmother’s refugee boat came to shore in 1943. Photo by Rachael Cerrotti, 2016



Below is information to keep in mind when using this lesson. This material is intended to help teachers consider the complexities of teaching contemporary antisemitism and to deliver accurate and sensitive instruction.

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  • This unit is comprised of three lessons, each divided into two to three parts. Though the lessons build sequentially, it is possible to use select parts or exercises that fit each educator’s instructional needs and time constraints. Within each part of the lesson, teachers are also advised to choose the number and types of sources and tasks that are most appropriate for their students.

  • The lessons are designed using an inquiry format, with an essential question posed at the beginning and supporting questions offered in each section to frame student thinking. As students work through each part, they consult relevant sources, complete formative performance tasks, and then a summative assessment that asks them to construct a response to the essential question using evidence to support their claims and viewpoints.

  • When teaching about contemporary antisemitism, it is essential to introduce students to the historical context behind this ‘longest hatred.’ Historical Antisemitism, Unit II, is a necessary prerequisite because it provides important context to understanding the long history of antisemitism and its classic tropes and delves into related concepts of propaganda, stereotypes, and scapegoating.

  • When discussing stereotypes with students, there is always the risk of introducing them to generalizations that they did not know before. Special care should be taken to reinforce the idea that while stereotypes and myths are easy to believe that does not make them true. It is also important to create an environment where students feel comfortable asking questions about the origins of specific stereotypes and why certain stereotypes continue to be believed. When discussing these issues with students, be cautious of the effect this discussion might have on them.

  • This unit introduces students to these topics and their relationship to antisemitism and other forms of prejudice. These themes–though important to unpack–can be frightening and confusing for students, and should be presented and contextualized in developmentally appropriate ways.

  • It is possible that students may witness an antisemitic incident in their own communities or schools, read or hear about an incident in the news or on social media, or may even be a victim of antisemitism themselves, but may not understand the source or impact of the act—they may even think that such words or actions are “no big deal.” This material provides teachers and their students with an opportunity to explore the complex phenomenon of contemporary antisemitism as well as options to respond and take action to prevent it as they consider the importance of doing so.

  • While this unit is specific to contemporary antisemitism, the material provides a springboard for discussion about prejudice and bias against other groups and the harm to individuals and society when such attitudes go unchecked. Students should be encouraged to discuss the role and responsibility of individuals to recognize and interrupt bias no matter what group is being targeted.

  • In advance of discussing the topics covered in this unit, teachers should think about whether they have any students in their class who are Jewish. Some students might feel relieved to discuss a topic that is relevant to their lives while others might feel awkward or embarrassed. This does not mean that teachers should not discuss the topic; however, be careful not to point
    out who is Jewish or put specific students on the spot to speak for Jewish people or about antisemitism. Consider talking with the students or their families in advance.

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The lessons in this unit increase students’ awareness that antisemitism did not end after the Holocaust and provide them with opportunities to learn about the persistence of antisemitism in its contemporary forms. Students investigate the ways in which old ideas about Jews and Judaism have given rise to new expressions of antisemitism and consider the interconnectedness of all forms of oppression. In addition, students are introduced to individuals who refuse to be bystanders to bigotry as they explore the responsibility of all members of society to respond to and prevent antisemitism and all forms of hate.

Essential Questions
  • What is antisemitism and how has this form of hatred endured into the contemporary era?
  • How has antisemitism morphed in the contemporary era?
  • What can we do to make a difference in the face of antisemitism and other forms of hate?
Students will:
  • Define and identify examples of historical and contemporary antisemitism.

  • Analyze historical and contemporary instances of antisemitism in order to understand how antisemitism has morphed in the modern era.

  • Demonstrate the scope and scale of antisemitism in today’s world.

  • Describe how classic forms of antisemitism have influenced and find expression in the new antisemitism.

  • Explain how antisemitism may sometimes be related to white nationalism.

  • Identify the features of the “new antisemitism,” including Holocaust denial and distortion and demonization of Israel.

  • Reflect on the skills and dispositions needed to respond effectively to antisemitism and other forms of bias.

  • Identify specific actions that they can take in their daily lives to combat hate.

  • Communicate their ideas about how different forms of prejudice are interconnected.

  • Construct evidence-based arguments on the features of contemporary antisemitism.

1. Learn and Confirm Chart–Similar to a KWL chart, a tool to help students track ongoing learning throughout the unit
2. Evidence Based Writing Rubric–Guidelines than can be adapted and used for assessing student writing assignments
3. Additional Resources–Further reading and sources of information for educators

The materials in this unit address many Common Core State Standards.
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160-170 minutes


The Enduring Problem of Antisemitism

Once I thought that antisemitism had ended; today it is clear to me that it will probably never end.


In this lesson, learners are provided an opportunity to understand that antisemitism did not end after the Holocaust. Students define and identify examples of antisemitism using their own experiences as well as official sources. Through readings, videos, and an analysis of primary source material, they identify the connecting themes of antisemitism and discover the ways in which age-old, pernicious beliefs about Jews have persisted into the modern era and morphed into contemporary expressions of anti-Jewish hatred.

Essential Question

What is antisemitism and how has this form of hatred endured into the contemporary era?

Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
1Help students develop a framework for learning about contemporary antisemitism by defining the term. Have students turn and talk to a partner about what the term antisemitism means to them. Distribute or display the handout, Antisemitism, and discuss together, noting similarities to or differences from students’ personal definitions.

Antisemitism View More »
2Post the quote at the top of this lesson from scholar and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel: “Once I thought that antisemitism had ended; today it is clear to me that it will probably never end.” Ask students to react to the quote. Highlight that antisemitism has existed for millennia and is still prevalent today, which is why it is referred to as the “longest hatred.” Explain that we use the term contemporary antisemitism to describe this form of hatred in today’s world, and that it both reflects old hatreds and expresses itself in new and problematic forms. Invite students to share examples of antisemitism that they are aware of in their own communities or on a national or international level. If students have ever encountered words or actions that they would describe as antisemitic, have them explain what happened and how they and/or others responded.
3Tell students that during this lesson, they will investigate the ways in which antisemitism manifests in the world today. Individually or in pairs, assign students to read the Introduction to Contemporary Antisemitism handout, highlighting key ideas and noting any questions that come up for them. When they are done, gather the class to answer students’ questions and clarify concepts as needed.

Introduction to Contemporary Antisemitism View More »
4Show students the short video, Antisemitism after the Holocaust, in which Professor Alvin Rosenfeld of Indiana University discusses the persistence of antisemitism. Then, after introducing students to [L]Erica Van Adelsberg[/L] and [L]Anneliese Nossbaum[/L], watch their testimonies.

Discuss some of the following questions with students:

  • Why did many think antisemitism would fade away after the Holocaust? Why do you think it has endured?

  • What illustration of contemporary antisemitism does Anneliese provide? What other examples are you aware of in your own communities that show the destructive impact of antisemitism?

  • Alvin points to the need to better understand the “sources and agents” of contemporary antisemitism. What can we do to better understand where this form of hate is coming from and why?

  • Erica says that we must “come to a feeling that there is something more for us to do.” Have you experienced this feeling in response to antisemitism or other forms of hate? What does it compel you to do?

Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
5Show students the brief video, The Nature of Antisemitism, in which Professor Peter Hayes of Northwestern University discusses whether antisemitism has unique characteristics that distinguish it from other prejudices. Discuss the following:
  • What are the historic roots of antisemitism?

  • How is antisemitism like a superstition?

  • According to Professor Hayes, what makes antisemitism distinct from other forms of hate?

  • What does Hayes mean when he says that antisemitism keeps “morphing and shapeshifting”? Can you think of an example of how antisemitism has morphed in today’s world?

6Distribute the handout, The Through Lines of Antisemitism, and review with students. Explain that they will take notes as they investigate sources exploring the common or connecting themes of antisemitism in different places and time periods. Divide the class into small groups and give each a sheet of chart paper and markers. Have groups replicate the chart from the handout on the large paper.

The Through Lines of Antisemitism View More »
Antisemitism Over Time View More »
Antisemitic Words and Images View More »
  • Part 1 – Historical Survey: Assign small groups to each review at least one of the five sources in the handout, Antisemitism Over Time, which track some of the ways antisemitism has manifested over the past century. Have them add notes to their chart as they review.
  • Part 2 – Contemporary Examples: Assign small groups to review at least one statement and one visual from the Antisemitic Words and Images handout, which focuses on modern-day examples of antisemitism. Have them add notes to their chart, paying attention to the ways in which the contemporary manifestations are similar to and distinct from the historical case studies.pin1
7When groups have completed their review, have them post their charts so that their notes are visible to the whole class. Ask for volunteers to share back or highlight significant facts or ideas from the sources. Discuss some of the following questions:

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  • What stereotypes and prejudices about Jewish people have endured over time?

  • Are you surprised these prejudices and stereotypes still exist? Why?

  • What similarities and differences did you notice between earlier and more recent examples of antisemitism?

  • What do you think are some of the characteristic features of contemporary antisemitism?

Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
8Tell students that they will next investigate the scope and scale of antisemitism in the modern world. Ask for students to define these terms. (Scope is the extent or range of something; scale is the size of something.)
9Explain to students that they will consult one to two sources and create a graph or graphic representation depicting one facet of antisemitism in the United States or globally, such as:
  • A comparison of attitudes toward Jews across several countries

  • The number of hate crimes in the U.S. motivated by bias against different religions

  • A comparison of hate crimes in the U.S. across different categories (e.g., race gender, religion)

  • Knowledge of and attitudes about the Holocaust

  • Types of antisemitic incidents in the U.S.

10Divide the class into small groups and distribute the handout, The Scope and Scale of Antisemitism. Depending on the needs of learners, you may assign each group a specific source to review or allow them to select. Provide students access to laptops or tablets in order to view sources.

The Scope and Scale of Antisemitism View More »
11When students have completed their graphs or graphic representations, have them post their work around the room and take a silent gallery walk. Post the questions below for students to reflect on while walking. Discuss them as a class following the gallery walk.
  • What specific facts are striking to you about the scope and scale of antisemitism?

  • Why do you believe antisemitism continues to grow so many decades after the Holocaust?

12As a summative assessment for this lesson, have students develop a one-minute news segment that addresses the essential question, focusing particularly on the ways in which antisemitism has taken shape in the modern era. Students should use relevant evidence from the sources in this lesson and communicate specific themes and contexts related to contemporary antisemitism. Have them give the segment a title that reflects their understanding of the ideas explored in this lesson. Have students deliver the segments to the class as time allows and collect their work in order to check for comprehension of lesson concepts.

A Thing of the Past? Antisemitism Past and Present
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125 minutes


The New Antisemitism

After the Second World War... many assumed antisemitism as they knew it had become the persona non grata of the civilized world... What they did not anticipate is antisemitism innovating itself... assuming the old hatred with a modern facade.


In this lesson, learners deepen their understanding about the features of contemporary antisemitism and the ways in which they exploit age-old hatred of Jews. Students are introduced to and examine some of the different forces that drive antisemitism in today’s world, including white nationalism, Holocaust denial and distortion, and delegitimization of Israel.

Essential Question

How has antisemitism morphed in the contemporary era?

Students will:
  • Describe how classic forms of antisemitism have influenced and find expression in the new antisemitism.

  • Explain how antisemitism may sometimes be related to white nationalism.

  • Identify other features of the “new antisemitism,” including Holocaust denial and anti-Israel bias.

  • Complete an evidence-based reflection on the features of contemporary antisemitism.

Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
1Explain to students that in this lesson they will examine some of the primary forces and manifestations of antisemitism today, which have both similarities and differences to earlier periods in history. To help understand the examples they will study, display and review the Expressions of Antisemitism handout and discuss with students. Point out that while contemporary antisemitism reflects elements of all these categories, this lesson will focus especially on “New expressions of antisemitism.”

Expressions of Antisemitism View More »
2Ask students if they are familiar with the Tree of Life Synagogue attack that took place in Pittsburgh in 2018. Allow them to share what they know and provide the following background as needed:

On the morning of October 27, 2018 (a Saturday, the Jewish holy day) Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA yelling “All Jews must die!” He opened fire on the congregants, killing eleven and wounding six others. Bowers told a law enforcement officer that Jews “were committing genocide against his people.” Authorities later found virulent antisemitic, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant posts on Bowers’ social media profiles. The last of his posts reflecting his belief that Jews are enabling undocumented immigrants to enter the U.S.–stated that “[Jewish organizations] like to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” The Tree of Life shooting is the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history.

3This activity asks students to critically analyze strong antisemitic language and deduce how hateful rhetoric can escalate to violence. Students may find this language shocking or offensive. Consider strategies to maintain a safe classroom environment for students.pin1

Tree of Life Synagogue Attack Word Cloud View More »
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Project or distribute the Tree of Life Synagogue Attack Word Cloud handout and explain that it reflects some of the language the assailant posted online in the lead-up to the attack. In pairs or small groups, have students analyze the language for clues about what might have fueled his irrational hatred and to identify traditional antisemitic themes. Engage in a full group discussion on students’ findings, making sure the following themes are considered:

  • The U.S. is being attacked and “invaded”; overrun by “foreign” and dangerous people (Jews, Israel, Muslims, migrants, refugees, etc.)
  • Jews, Jewish organizations, and Israel are evil and engineering an “invasion” for self-serving purposes.
  • White people in the U.S. are being “replaced” and their “way of life” threatened; they must unite and fight for their country.
  • The Holocaust was justified and a modern-day genocide against Jews and other “enemies” (refugees, Muslims, non-White people, etc.) is warranted.

Conclude this activity with some or all of the following discussion questions:

  • What emotions came up when encountering this word cloud? What words did your eye first move towards?

  • Even if hate speech does not escalate to violence, why is it harmful and to whom?

  • By analyzing this language, what conclusions can you draw about how hate escalates?

4Explain that an increase in white nationalism–such as that exhibited by Bowers as well as attackers involved in the 2017 Charlottesville rally and 2019 Poway Synagogue shooting in CA–is one trend that both fuels contemporary antisemitism and demonstrates its most deadly consequence. Project or distribute the handout, White Nationalism, and review this information with students. Discuss the following:

White Nationalism View More »
  • How does the antisemitism promoted by white nationalist groups today build on old ideas? How is it different? (Refer to the handout, Expressions of Antisemitism, as needed.)

  • How do you think the loss of life as a result of antisemitism has affected the Jewish community? Other targets?

  • How can the targets of antisemitism and other prejudice work collectively to resist hate?

Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
5Ask students to define the word denial (the action of declaring something to be untrue). Ask students to define the word distortion (the action of giving a misleading account or impression). Explain that denial and distortion of the Holocaust and of Jewish victimhood are often characteristic features of contemporary antisemitism. Project or distribute the handout, Holocaust Denial and Distortion, and review with students.

Holocaust Denial and Distortion View More »
6Show student the video, Holocaust Denial, Explained, from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum). Then introduce students to [L]Felix Sparks[/L], [L]Marta Wise[/L], and [L]Naomi Adler[/L] and show their testimonies. Have students note key words and phrases that stand out to them and thoughts and questions that come up as they listen.

Discuss some of the following questions with students:

  • What forms do Holocaust denial and distortion take? What belief systems are behind them?

  • How are Holocaust denial and distortion a form of antisemitism?

  • How do Holocaust denial and distortion attempt to delegitimize the State of Israel?

  • Why might some people be influenced by the ideas of deniers or distorters?

  • Naomi Adler says it is our job to make sure we know what is true. What are some steps we can take to make sure we are educated about important issues?

  • Felix Sparks says he will fight the “stupidity and viciousness” of Holocaust denial to his “last breath.” What are some ways you can stand up to this form of antisemitism when you encounter it?

7Assign students to create a “found poem” using the notes they took in response to the videos. To accomplish this, they will choose at least ten key words and phrases from their notes that most relate to the supporting question. They write each word or phrase on a separate slip of paper and arrange the slips into a poem that answers the supporting question and communicates their point of view. When students finish, they silently exchange their poems with peers in groups of three and attach written comments to one another’s work using sticky notes. Following the exercise, collect students’ poems to check for understanding.
Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
8Referring again to the Expressions of Antisemitism handout, explain to students that another aspect of “new antisemitism” is centered on opposition to the State of Israel, sometimes its policies and sometimes its right to exist at all. Ask students to share what they know about Israel and what have been their sources of information.
9Distribute and spend time reviewing the handout, Antisemitism and the Three Ds. Explain to students that one of the complexities of this form of antisemitism is that Israel often becomes the focus of the hatred of Jews, and treated with double standards. In this way, antisemitic ideas once directed at “the Jew” become centered around opposition to Israel, but because this criticism is directed against a country, this antisemitism is often able to disguise itself as political criticism. A classic symptom of the new antisemitism, Jewish people, regardless of where they live, have been increasingly targeted as responsible for the actions and policies of Israel. This rising hatred has led to harassment, discrimination and even violence. Explain that the “3Ds Test” helps us to break this down to be able to understand and identify this new form of antisemitism.

Antisemitism and the Three Ds View More »

OPTIONAL: View the brief Yad Vashem video, Anti-Zionism, which features three professors discussing the origins of anti-Zionism, how it changed following the Holocaust, and how it relates to contemporary antisemitism.

10Tell students that in order to understand these issues more fully, they will review real-life contemporary case studies. Divide students into groups and distribute Case Studies of Antisemitism handout, assigning one of the example types to each small group. Instruct groups to discuss how antisemitism was at play in their scenario. The response should answer the supporting question and include evidence from the case studies to support their conclusions. Groups should report to the class and discuss their conclusions as time allows. (Note: As helpful, The BDS Movement overview document can be used as background for educators or as a student handout, if appropriate.)

Case Studies of Antisemitism View More »
The BDS Movement View More »
11Instruct groups to discuss how antisemitism was at play in their scenario and to post a written response on the case study using sticky notes. The response should answer the supporting question and include evidence from the case studies to support their conclusions. After groups have posted their responses, they can be asked to report back to the class on their conclusions as time allows.
12As a summative assessment for the overall lesson, have students create a “3 x 3 journal” addressing the compelling question, “How has antisemitism morphed in the contemporary era?” The journal is a grid that includes three features of contemporary antisemitism that they have discovered on one axis, and three ideas that they have taken away about each feature along the other axis. They should include at least one piece of relevant evidence from the featured sources in each row of the grid.


110-120 minutes


Action and Agency-Standing Against Antisemitism and Hate

“Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.”


In this lesson students learn practical ways that they can take action in response to antisemitism and bias in their communities. They consider the skills and qualities needed to act effectively by reflecting on case studies and testimonies. They then identify a range of actions they might take in response to real-life scenarios of antisemitism and reflect on the interconnectedness of all forms of oppression.

Essential Question

What can we do to make a difference in the face of antisemitism and other forms of hate?

Students will:
  • Reflect on the skills and dispositions needed to respond effectively to antisemitism and other forms of bias.

  • Identify specific actions that they can take in their daily lives to combat hate.

  • Communicate their ideas about how different forms of prejudice are interconnected.

Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
1Begin this lesson by having students reflect on and discuss quotes from Miep Gies about courage and our responsibility to take action against prejudice and hate. Share the biographical information from the Miep Gies Quotes handout with students. Post some or all the quotes around the room and have students stand by one that resonates for them. In small groups, have them discuss some of the following questions.

Miep Gies Quotes View More »
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  • What resonated for you about the quote? Why is it meaningful to you?

  • Do you think that elevating people to the status of “hero” is helpful or harmful in our society? Why?

  • What is your personal definition of
    moral courage?

  • What qualities or skills does it take for ordinary people to display courage?

  • Do you find Gies’ idea of “remorse” to be a motivating emotion? Why?

2Highlight Miep Gies’ sentiment that even an ordinary person can “turn on a small light in a dark room.” Tell students that, during this lesson, they will investigate ways that ordinary people (them!) can stand up against prejudice and intolerance in their communities.
3Ask students to identify people they know in their own lives or in public life or history who have stood against bias or hate. Have them turn and talk to a partner about what they think enabled these people to help others. Tell students that they will read profiles of ordinary young people who have stood up against prejudice and list specific qualities and skills that enabled them to do so. In small groups, assign students to read one or more of the case studies in the handout, Profiles of Young Activists, and create a list of attributes.

Profiles of Young Activists View More »

Ask each group to decide on three qualities from their profiles that they think are most important. Have them write those qualities “graffiti style” on large sheets of chart paper posted at the front of the room. Discuss why students prioritized these qualities and what they think it might take for them to manifest these characteristics in situations involving bias in their own lives.

4Tell students that they will practice applying some of the behaviors they have thought about to real-life scenarios. Provide each student with the handout, Action Planning, and review together. Assign small groups a scenario from the Taking Action: Scenarios for Discussion handout or allow them to select one that feels relevant to them. Have them discuss the scenario using the discussion questions provided and then complete the action planning grid in response to the scenario.

Action Planning View More »
Taking Action: Scenarios for Discussion View More »
5When groups have completed the task, create new groups using the jig-saw method, so that each new group contains students who have worked on different scenarios. In their new groups, have students report back on the highlights of their initial discussions and share the action plans they have devised.
Post the supporting question above for students as you begin this part of the lesson.
6Post the following quotes:

“Rising antisemitism is rarely the lone or the last expression of intolerance in a society.”

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.”

Ask students to react to the quotes and consider how antisemitism and other forms of prejudice affect all people, regardless of their identities or membership in targeted groups. Have them turn and talk with a partner about this question.

7Tell students that they will read about the ideas of some notable people on “the interconnectedness of oppressions” or the notion that prejudice of any kind affects all people. Explain that they will write a response to one text that does one of the following:
  • Gives an opinion – tells what you think or feel about a part of the text and why

  • Poses a question – inquires into something you don’t understand or something the text made you consider

  • Makes a connection – discusses how the text relates to your own life, another text, or something in the larger world

  • Discusses a significant line or section – highlights a part of the text that is important
    and discusses what it means

8Distribute The Interconnectedness of Oppressions handout and assign students to read one or more of the texts. After they write their response paragraphs, have students share them aloud and discuss in small groups.

The Interconnectedness of Oppressions View More »
9After introducing students to [L]Suzanne Cohn[/L], [L]Herschel Gluck[/L], and [L]Henry Oertelt[/L], conclude the lesson by playing one or more of their testimonies, which emphasize the importance of creating understanding across our human differences and standing against all forms of prejudice. Discuss some of the following questions with students:

Group Action Project
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  • In what ways do Holocaust survivors see past injustices being repeated today?

  • Suzanne Cohn says, “you can be one making a difference.” What can one person do to reduce bigotry?

  • What did you learn from Herschel Gluck about the most effective way to break down prejudices?

  • Henry Oertelt says he is the prime example of what can happen when no one speaks up against prejudice. What can we all do to speak up when we experience or witness prejudice around us?

10As a summative assessment for this lesson, have students design a bookmark, bumper, sticker, or t-shirt that speaks to the essential question, “What can we do to make a difference in the face of antisemitism and other forms of hate?” Students should draw on relevant information and ideas from the featured sources to devise a main slogan for their product (that serves as a claim) and 3-5 brief accompanying phrases that reflect strategies for making a difference (and that serve as evidence). Students can create their designs individually or in small groups. As an optional follow-up, students can print and distribute their designs to others
    Optional Extension: Have students complete a Group Action Project to apply the knowledge and skills they have gained throughout the unit by forming a response to antisemitism or another type of bias in their community. Refer to the Group Action Project document for suggestions and resources for planning actions, documenting and sharing project results, and reflecting on and evaluating student work. Kath Murdoch’s “inquiry cycle” is offered as a guide to help students pace and organize their work.
    Reflect & Respond  

    The topics below can be used as prompts–in class or as homework–for students to reflect on what they are learning and its meaning in their own lives and in society. These queries are excellent for journaling, allowing students to create their own primary source material. Keep in mind, the sensitive and emotional nature of the topics may preclude teacher evaluation. If journaling is used as an assessment tool, assure students that they will not be evaluated negatively for expressing opinions that may be different from those of their teachers or peers.

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    • Ask students to respond to the quote by former U.S. politician, Paul Sarbanes: “Where anti-Semitism persists, the well-being of all our people is at risk.” Have them explore how antisemitism affects all people and why antisemitism is often considered a harbinger of other kinds of hate in a society. Challenge them to think about the interconnectedness of oppressions and the responsibility all people have to respond to prejudice in whatever form it takes.

    • Have students reflect on the ways that Jewish people have been scapegoated historically and in current times. Define scapegoating in this context as blaming Jews individually or collectively for something, based on stereotypes or prejudices, when in reality Jews are not responsible. Have students note examples of scapegoating that they have learned about in this or other units of study and choose one example to research further. Have them make comparisons to other groups that are scapegoated today, identify some of the factors that lead to scapegoating behavior, and discuss how we can respond when we encounter scapegoating in our communities.

    • In recent years there has been a precipitous rise in antisemitic hate online and via social media. For instance, in its Antisemitic Incidents Report 2018, The UK-based Jewish Charity, Community Security Trust, reports that antisemitic incidents involving social media made up 23 per cent of all incidents and rose 54 per cent from the previous year. Assign students to research and reflect on this trend, considering what the proper balance should be between constitutionally protected free speech and limits on hate speech. Have them think about what the responsibility should be of social media companies to monitor and remove speech that is hateful and makes users feel unsafe.

    • In her article “We Change the World by Doing Nothing,” Suzanne SooHoo explores the response of people who observe something that demands intervention and choose not to get involved. Have students consider why we sometimes act in response to harmful behavior (such as antisemitism) and sometimes do not. Ask them to consider examples from their studies of the Holocaust and contemporary antisemitism, as well as their personal experiences, and to articulate some of the internal and external forces that keep us from standing up to injustice. Have them discuss what SooHoo calls the ultimate question we all have to face: “If we do nothing, will we have changed the world?”

    • Search IWitness for testimonies from individuals who have stood up to antisemitism and other forms of bigotry in their communities. Reflect on the actions these people have taken, their motivations, and what we can learn from those who have chosen to take action.

    • In his testimony Henry Oertelt says, “I am the prime example of what can happen to people that are suffering under prejudicial circumstances and biases…and we have to learn to speak up when we see prejudice and hatred.” Why do you think more people don’t speak up when they witness these types of behaviors? How have the individuals you have been introduced to in this unit, including Henry, helped you think about your role in your own community?

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    Making Connections  

    The additional activities and projects listed below can be integrated directly into the lessons in this unit or can be used to extend lessons once they have been completed. The topics lend themselves to students’ continued study of antisemitism and the Holocaust as well as opportunities for students to make meaningful connections to other people and events, including relevant contemporary issues. These activities may include instructional strategies and techniques and/or address academic standards in addition to those that were identified for the unit.

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    1In the aftermath of the Holocaust, many countries, especially in Europe, passed laws prohibiting hate speech against groups based on religion, race, and other categories. In France, for example, the law allows for the prosecution of “public insults” based on religion, race, ethnicity, or national origin. The U.S. has more permissive laws when it comes to hate speech. Have students research how the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects free speech and what limits it puts on hate speech. Have them compare U.S. norms with those of another country that has stronger protections, citing at least one specific case in each country. Challenge students to articulate whether and how U.S. law should be changed to protect its citizens against hate speech.
    2Social media sites are replete with hate speech. Not only do original posts include antisemitic and other hateful words and images, but also the comment sections that follow such posts (as well as perfectly innocent posts) demonstrate the pervasiveness of the problem. Most major social media companies (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) have policies regarding whether and what kind of hate speech are permitted, but these policies are often inconsistent, unevenly applied, and difficult to understand. Working in small groups, have students research how two or three social media sites monitor and regulate hate speech and hateful ideas, and decide whether they believe the policies in place are sufficient and, if not, what they believe is needed to curtail hate speech in social media.
    3While much media attention is often given to antisemitic and other hateful acts, the efforts of individuals and communities to combat such acts are often less publicized. Have students research examples of communities and individuals who have taken a stand against hateful acts and present in a multimedia presentation.
    anti-Israel bias
    BDS Movement
    contemporary antisemitism
    double standard
    Holocaust denial and distortion
    "new antisemitism"
    Protocols of the Elders of Zion
    white nationalism
    white supremacist