Thanks for visiting!
Sign up now to learn about future programs and Holocaust education resources for the classroom.



Newsletter signup is also available in our footer if you prefer to keep browsing before you subscribe.
BLOG

ANTISEMITISM

CURRENT EVENTS



This past summer I traveled to Poland as part of Echoes & Reflections Advanced Program with Yad Vashem with a group of educators, where we were surrounded by hate from the ghetto in Warsaw to the ghetto fields in Lodz. We stood at Birkenau together to bear witness to the greatest atrocity in the human world, fueled by hate — and by a particular strain of hate: antisemitism. As I landed back in the United States my heart was overwhelmed with the idea that hate can cause so much harm. While I understood this, to witness it gave me a whole new perspective.

View more +

Today, it has become clear that you do not have to travel far to find hate. My heart was riddled with overwhelming sadness and defeat as I entered my classroom the day after the shooting in Pittsburgh, PA. My heart once again sat in disbelief and shock as I thought about how to talk to my students about hatred and how it had reared its ugly head in a beautiful city with a thriving Jewish community. Now antisemitism was not thousands of miles away in Europe and did not occur decades prior. It was here, now, in Pennsylvania, our own backyard. I wondered how my students would respond. Would they want to talk about gun control or the president? How would I steer the conversation back to where it needs to go? How would I answer questions that my students will pose? They will ask “why the Jews?” and while I know the textbook answer, I will have to say to them “I don’t know.”

As I look back on my trip to Poland, it is not hate that I am reminded of, but love. While it would be easy to say antisemitism and hate were the common themes, I challenged myself to see that love is the common thread that is woven throughout. Stories of people doing right in the face of terrible wrong, both active and passive resistance, and the undying will to survive. The question becomes “What do I do with that?” As an educator, how do I take the horrible suffering of a generation born decades before me and give it meaning? Then I remember the faces. The beautiful faces that were snuffed from this world too soon — mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, husbands and wives. I tell their stories and as a classroom and community, we learn their stories. I allow my students to feel through them the will to overcome hate.

I believe we can combat hate with truth, education, and unwavering love. Be a voice for the voiceless and let your love shine brighter than the hate in the world. When teaching the Holocaust I make every effort to focus on the rescuers and those engaged in resistance. Who are they? What were they doing to help? I ask my students “How could you help?”

Our small community is banding together and collecting donations to send to the synagogue in Pittsburgh. The message is clear:  when hate shows itself, we must make our voices of love and humanity louder. Never again! Hate is sometimes just around the corner, but if we come together as a community, a state, a nation, a world, we can combat antisemitism and all forms of hate - one story at a time.

About the author: Deborah Hamilton is a middle school social studies learning facilitator at Northern Potter School District located in Ulysses, PA. Deborah encourages her students to stand against social injustice and to be a voice for the voiceless. 



FacebookTwitterEmailCopy Link


Close -




HOLOCAUST EDUCATION

HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE



As the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht approaches, I am drawn to the words of Holocaust survivor Kurt Messerchmidt: “Silence is what did the harm.” I can’t help but consider the relevance of this statement and Kurt's experiences during the Holocaust to the lives of my students. The anniversary of Kristallnacht, as well as my recent experiences in Holocaust education, provide a powerful teaching opportunity to examine the importance of recognizing personal narratives as well as the consequences of staying silent in the face of injustice.

View more +

This summer, through Echoes & Reflections—a partnership of ADL, USC Shoah Foundation, and Yad Vashem—I had the opportunity to travel to Poland with an incredible group of dedicated educators from across the United States and our guide, Sheryl Ochayon, the Program Director for Echoes & Reflections at Yad Vashem.  To say that it was an impactful experience doesn’t begin to encapsulate the enormity of what we learned and what we were able to bring back to our classrooms.

I am an educator at The Newcomer Center in Arlington Heights, Illinois and work with immigrant and refugee students that are newly arrived to the United States. My Newcomer students, many of whom have suffered trauma in their countries of origin, connect on a deep level with the study of the Holocaust.  The fear and constant threat of violence, hiding to survive, the sense of displacement, and the loss of “home” are some of the things my students have already experienced in their short lives.

The trip to Poland—standing on seemingly forgotten historic grounds where violent pogroms occurred, walking through the deafening silence of concentration camps, and touring museums full of exhibits of what used to be Jewish life—provided me with a fresh perspective on an otherwise familiar topic.  It was a reminder to find the individual stories in the lives of the more than six million victims of the Holocaust, and to remember that every single person, one-by-one, added up to six million. It was a reminder to teach my students that the six million are not a singular collective story of loss and by recognizing individual lives, cut short by cruelty and hate, is how we restore their humanity and work to ensure that future acts of hate cease to occur.

Every Newcomer student is a single story.  Each student carries his or her own hurt, loss, and suffering.  At times, unintentionally, and under the weight of the monumental task of preparing my students for new lives in the United States, I’ve exercised a version of “silence” by failing to recognize their pain.  Without knowing it, I stopped hearing their voices.

I hope to always acknowledge my students and their plights as individual stories of resilience and hope.  This is what I brought back with me from Poland.  A fresh way of being an advocate for my students and a reminder to find the one in the six million. As educators, it is as important today as it ever was, to take every student into account and to help them find their voice.  In the end, it is the silence that continues to do the most harm.

 

About the author: Mario Perez is the Coordinator and Social Science/Human Geography Teacher at the Newcomer Center in Arlington Heights, IL, a lifelong Chicagoan, and proud educator for over 18 years working with immigrants and refugees as they start their new lives in the United States.



FacebookTwitterEmailCopy Link


Close -




HOLOCAUST EDUCATION

SURVIVORS



One of the most powerful exhibits I’ve ever experienced about the Holocaust is at the site of what was once the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland.

View more +

Here, in the installation by Yad Vashem at Block 27, the deeply human story is told through flickering film footage of Jews living ordinary lives in Europe before World War II: a young girl ice skating, children singing and dancing.

The story is also told through video testimony of Jews who survived, through giant pages listing the millions of names of those who didn’t, and through drawings on the walls.

Viewers are left with the gut-wrenching reality that the Shoah destroyed real people with real names and real lives.

That some aspects of the exhibit were technologically sophisticated and others were devoid of technology is entirely incidental to the experience.

In the sphere of remembrance, technology should never be a “thing” in its own right. Stories, really, are the thing. They are at the heart of how we talk to each other, share memories, transmit understanding. Technology has always been in service of that human function. It is a utility to help tell our stories and deliver our content.  Within Echoes & Reflections, for example, visual history testimonies from survivors and other witnesses to the Holocaust, were carefully curated from USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive, and embedded within each classroom lesson and theme to bring the history to life with real people who lived through this event.

This month and next, as students return to school, I ask educators to bear this message in mind. Students from toddlers to twentysomethings exist in a virtual matrix of gadgets, video games and social media accounts.

This is natural. Media, like fashion, is ever changing. The trick is to use the latest technology to meet the students where they are, and to deliver to them stories that illuminate.

It was with this intention that USC Shoah Foundation has embarked on several technological innovations.

Our 2016 documentary, “The Last Goodbye,” is the first virtual-reality film to take audiences through a concentration camp. The power of it lies not in the capability to capture a scene in 360 degrees, but in the immersive experience of being in the Majdanek death camp with the narrator, Pinchas Gutter, the only member of his family of four to survive the camp in Poland. Adding to the authenticity of the experience is the fact that Gutter was filmed not on a green screen in some studio, but on site. When he is standing at the door of the gas chamber where his sister was murdered, there is no escaping the terrible truth of what that place means in his memory.

In this same spirit, we have recorded more than a dozen testimonies using a technology we developed that allows users to interact with the survivors on a screen. (The interviewees were filmed volumetrically, meaning it will one day be possible to reconstruct their images into holograms.) Called Dimensions in Testimony, these interactive biographies enable viewers to be guided by their own curiosity; to take an inquisitive approach to learning a survivor’s story, in the same way we do when we see a Holocaust survivor speak to a classroom.

Technology is not the message. It is what our audiences experience that really counts.

About the author: Stephen D. Smith, PhD, is the Andrew J. and Erna Finci Viterbi Executive Director Chair of the USC Shoah Foundation.



FacebookTwitterEmailCopy Link


Close -




PREVIOUS POSTS



> <
  • “NO JEWS”
    Aug 27, 2018  RICHELLE BUDD CAPLAN
    My grandfather was an illegal immigrant who worked his way from being a dishwasher to becoming a hotel clerk i...
    See full post  »
  • POWER IN COMMUNITY AND CONVERSATION: ONE YEAR AFTER CHARLOTTESVILLE
    Aug 06, 2018  JENNIFER GOSS
    In the aftermath of last year’s events in Charlottesville, VA, Jennifer Goss, an Echoes & Reflections fa...
    See full post  »
  • LESSONS FROM POLAND’S PAST: EMPOWERING STUDENT VOICES
    Jul 30, 2018  ASHLEY HARBEL
    I knew spending a week studying the Holocaust would be an intense undertaking. What I didn’t realize is that...
    See full post  »
  • WHERE DO WE FIND THE INSPIRATION?
    Jun 05, 2018  
    This month we asked members of our educator community to share the stories that have inspired them to teach ab...
    See full post  »
  • THE COMPLEXITIES OF COURAGE
    May 11, 2018  
    What is courage? Do we all have the ability to act heroically? When we decide to behave courageously, is it be...
    See full post  »
  • “THOSE WHO KNEW WHAT THIS WAS ALL ABOUT MUST MAKE WAY FOR THOSE WHO KNOW LITTLE…”
    May 08, 2018  MELISSA MOTT
    I first traveled to Poland in the summer of 2005. I had never left the United States and had no idea I’d ret...
    See full post  »
  • “APRIL IS THE CRUELEST MONTH…,”
    Apr 05, 2018  GATSINZI BASANINYENZI, PH.D.
    Wrote T.S. Eliot in “The Burial of the Dead,” the first section of The Waste Land. That line could not hav...
    See full post  »
  • THE COURIERS IN THE RESISTANCE: FIERCE, YOUNG, AND FEMALE
    Mar 06, 2018  SHERYL OCHAYON
    If there is a single story of female resistance that amazes and intrigues me to no end, it would have to be th...
    See full post  »
  • THE 1936 OLYMPICS: FINDING MEANING IN A MOMENT OF VICTORY
    Feb 07, 2018  
    The advent of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games gives educators the opportunity to discuss this event’s influen...
    See full post  »
  • LIBERATORS AND SURVIVORS: THE FIRST MOMENTS
    Jan 08, 2018  SHERYL OCHAYON
    “When we walked in the gates, every so often there were one or two or three dead bodies on the ground...alon...
    See full post  »
  • APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN! 2018 ECHOES & REFLECTIONS ADVANCED LEARNING SEMINARS
    Dec 15, 2017  
    Don’t miss out! This summer, we are excited to offer two advanced learning opportunities for experienced Ech...
    See full post  »
  • TEACHING ABOUT GENOCIDE, PRESERVING HUMAN RIGHTS
    Dec 06, 2017  DR. AMY CARNES & DR. EMILY MUSIL CHURCH
    International Human Rights Day, December 10, marks the anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly adop...
    See full post  »
  • THE LOUDNESS OF SILENCE: STUDYING KRISTALLNACHT THROUGH LITERATURE
    Nov 01, 2017  KRISTY RUSH
    The day I began teaching eighth grade, I was handed a copy of Anne Frank, the Diary of a Young Girl.  I was a...
    See full post  »
  • VALUING FREE SPEECH AND THE CHALLENGE OF LIVING IN A DEMOCRACY
    Sep 25, 2017  JESSICA REAVES
    Americans know it’s not always pleasant to watch free speech in action. As we witnessed this summer in Ch...
    See full post  »
  • EDUCATORS RESPOND TO CHARLOTTESVILLE
    Aug 21, 2017  
    This year Echoes & Reflections created its inaugural Educator Advisory Committee (EAC). The purpose of the...
    See full post  »
  • HATE IS IN OUR BACKYARD
    Aug 18, 2017  JENNIFER GOSS
    “It is one thing to read about hateful actions in other cities across the US, but this is different. This hi...
    See full post  »
  • NOW WHAT?
    Aug 15, 2017  
    In the face of the ugly and violent expressions of Neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideology seen this weekend i...
    See full post  »
  • LEARNING, GROWTH, AND MAKING CONNECTIONS IN OUR FAST-PACED WORLD: HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2017 ADVANCED ECHOES AND REFLECTIONS PROGRAMS
    Aug 08, 2017  
    We live in a world that moves fast. We run from one thing to the next while texting our half-formed thoughts i...
    See full post  »
  • THE CHOICES WE MAKE: WHAT I LEARNED FROM ANNE FRANK AND MY ENGLISH TEACHER
    Jun 12, 2017  DEBORAH BATISTE
    Turning sixty-five can be a time to think back on one’s career while also considering whether it might not b...
    See full post  »
  • INSPIRING EXPRESSION IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS
    May 05, 2017  LESLY CULP
    Recently, I incorporated Holocaust survivor testimony into my English Language Development (ELD) classes as a ...
    See full post  »
  • TELLING THE STORY OF THE HOLOCAUST: HOW DO WE GET IT RIGHT?
    Apr 27, 2017  ECHOES AND REFLECTIONS
    Why do people all too often talk, or even teach, about the Holocaust in ways that trivialize it or get the fac...
    See full post  »
  • SPECIFICITY MATTERS
    Apr 13, 2017  THOMAS M. WHITE
    Specificity matters. It shapes our memory, frames our perceptions, informs identity, and influences responses ...
    See full post  »
  • “UNPRECEDENTED BRAVERY, PLUCK, AND DARING”
    Mar 07, 2017  
    On International Women’s Day, I want to share some insights about why it’s so important to study the mothe...
    See full post  »
  • CONTEMPORARY ANTISEMITISM IN OUR CLASSROOMS
    Feb 21, 2017  NAOMI MAYOR
    In my role at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), I manage a suite of programs that provide resources and educat...
    See full post  »
  • DEFENDING TRUTH – HOLOCAUST DENIAL IN THE CLASSROOM
    Oct 25, 2016  DAN LESHEM
    The recent film Denial, which recounts Deborah E. Lipstadt’s legal battle for historical truth against David...
    See full post  »
  • HEROES OF THE HOLOCAUST?
    Sep 13, 2016  RICHELLE BUDD CAPLAN
    According to the late David Bowie, “We can be heroes, just for one day.” In countries all over the world, ...
    See full post  »
  • LET’S TALK ABOUT THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS
    Aug 23, 2016  DEBORAH BATISTE
    Over the past ten years, I have had the honor of delivering Echoes and Reflections professional development pr...
    See full post  »
GET INVOLVED
FAQs

You may have questions about Echoes & Reflections and we are here to provide you with answers. We encourage you to spend time exploring our site to learn more about our work and to view the FAQs below:

1Where are programs held?
Echoes & Reflections provides conveniently scheduled online offerings and in-person programs across the country. Please visit our Prepare section to learn more about the professional development opportunities we offer.

2How much does it cost?
Echoes & Reflections believes that learning about the Holocaust is a fundamental right of all students and thanks to our generous funders, we are able to offer programs and materials to secondary educators across the country at no cost.

3Is there evidence supporting its impact?
Echoes & Reflections is committed to a rigorous mixed-methods evaluation approach. In 2014, the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (NCSS) released its findings of a study with educators using Echoes & Reflections. Findings included:
• 94% reported the program increased or significantly increased their students’ knowledge about the Holocaust.
• 92% indicated that Echoes & Reflections was a better or a significantly better program when compared to similar programs.
• Further data is available on Our Approach page »


4How can I bring Echoes & Reflections to teachers at my school?
The first step is to familiarize yourself with our resources and professional development opportunities. If you are interested in setting up a program in your community, please contact us at info@echoesandreflections.org

5Does the program address standards?
Absolutely. Echoes & Reflections classroom content is designed to address rigorous national, state, and local education standards in meaningful ways.

6Will teachers who receive the training receive professional development credits?
Because requirements for awarding professional development hours or continuing education units vary widely from state to state, teachers will need to check with their school administration to see if Echoes & Reflections meets specific requirements for their district. Many program hosts award credit that complies with local requirements, and a certificate of attendance can be provided to educators in attendance upon request.
If you have any other questions or wish to receive an informational packet, please let us know here.


CLASSROOM POSTER SERIES
INSPIRING THE HUMAN STORY
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.

Orders will begin arriving in mid-January in time for the Spring semester.

RESOURCE OVERVIEW

Third a Content