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Yom HaShoah: Holocaust Remembrance Day teaching resources

“When teacher Mary Beth Donovan prepared her students to read Anne Frank’s diary 10 years ago, she screened a selection of the famous newsreel clips shot during the liberation of Nazi camps in 1945. Astoundingly, after watching the films, some of Donovan’s students began referring to the genocide and Anne Frank as “fake” events that had not occurred.

Noting that most of her class listened to the conversation as ‘silent bystanders,’ Donovan knew she faced a challenge. The eighth grade teacher at the Tenney Grammar School in working class Methuen, north of Boston, recognized that students needed a connection between their own lives and Holocaust victims who appeared remote and irrelevant.”

This is not news to many of us. Mary Beth’s situation is not unique. I think we live in a world where many of our students either are not familiar with the Holocaust or have been exposed to revisionist and inaccurate versions.

That needs to change.

Part of what we can do is participate in the yearly Yom Hashoah observance. This day of remembering the Jewish Holocaust of the 1930s and 40s corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar. Days of Remembrance ceremonies are linked to the dates of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

The list of resources below can help you plan activities and guide conversations among your students:

Start with a short video titled Nazi Boots from the powerful Keep the Memory Alive site from last year’s observance.

Be sure to browse through the Artists and Survivors page and the Gallery of the artists’ responses.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The United States Congress established the Days of Remembrance as the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust. You can many instructional resources here as well as suggestions for remembering.

Yad Vashem: The World Holocaust Remembrance Center
As the Jewish people’s living memorial to the Holocaust, Yad Vashem safeguards the memory of the past and imparts its meaning for future generations. Established in 1953, the center is a leader in the documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust.

Echoes and Reflections
In preparing for Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, on May 5, 2016, we asked educators to share their approach to commemorating this important day with students. Read some of the creative responses from classroom teachers here. The Center is also offering an online teacher training that starts next week. Find out more.

The New York Times Learning Network
In recognition of the Days of Remembrance, here are Learning Network lesson plans, New York Times resources and other Web sites for teaching and learning about the Holocaust.

The Guardian Teacher Network
This week the Guardian Teacher Network has excellent resources to help teachers approach the subject of the Holocaust

I Witness – One Voice at a Times
IWitness brings the first-person stories of survivors and witnesses to genocide to teachers and their students via multimedia-learning activities that encourage critical thinking, self-reflection, and help students understand the profound impact their words and actions can have on others.

Four Ways to Use Testimony in the Classroom for Holocaust Remembrance Day
Using testimony in the classroom is a way to personalize the story of the Holocaust for students.

Holocaust Center for Humanity
The Holocaust Center for Humanity teaches tolerance and citizenship through lessons of the Holocaust. They also have an excellent list of other lessons and activities.

Educational Resources for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day

Anti-Defamation League
As an organization devoted to keeping the memory and the lessons of the Holocaust alive through education and outreach, the Anti-Defamation League annually organizes and participates in many events commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day across the country and in Israel. Their latest list of resources is from a few years ago.

PBS Newshour
This collection is designed to provide teachers with rich and meaningful resources on the Holocaust, engaging lesson plans and information to help students take steps to move forward without forgetting the past.

Anne Frank House
The Hiding Place in 3D: Wander through the furnished spaces and get to know Anne through her diary entries.

But remembering the tragic events of the past is not enough. We and our students can and should do more. We can and should connect the past with the present. Start by reading outloud with students What A Survivor of Auschwitz Wants You To Know About Syrian Refugees by Gene Klein.

Resist the temptation to tire of news of the suffering of the Syrian refugees. The discarded of this war appear in such numbers that their personhood can easily escape us.

Gene Klein
Holocaust survivor

Find out more at United to End Genocide and the Alliance Against Genocide. More resources can be found at the Genocide Teaching Project and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide. And don’t forget social media as a way to track current events that connect with historical events.

anne frank quote

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