Teaching about the Holocaust in Israel: A Pedagogical Approach Adopted by the Israeli Ministry of Education

Aug. 04, 2016

Source: Contemporary Review of the Middle East


Holocaust education in any setting requires a careful approach, taking into consideration the cultural sensitivities of the target audiences, local history and current trends. In Israel, where Holocaust education has been created and developed over decades to produce models used around the world, this approach can be examined using the prism of the nationally instituted curriculum. The following article presents the rationale and ramifications of Holocaust education in Israel, as well as principles and suggestions to be considered in Holocaust education world over.

In 2013, the then Israeli Minister of Education Rabbi Shai Piron approached the International School for Holocaust Studies (ISHS) at Yad Vashem requesting the development of a cross-grade, tailored educational curriculum. At the heart of these discussions were core questions of age-appropriate pedagogy and meaningful dissemination of knowledge, focusing on three main dilemmas:

  • What to teach? What from within the unprecedented rupture will be appropriate for classroom discussions?
  • How can it be taught?
  • At what age must one begin dealing with the Holocaust?

The ISHS approach was formally adopted in 2014 by the Israeli Education Ministry as the guiding principle behind Holocaust education. This article outlines the basics of the approach, aiming to serve as a platform for further research on Holocaust education globally as well as in Israel.

Since the establishment of Yad Vashem in 1953 by an act of the Knesset to be the Jewish people’s memorial to the six million murdered in the Holocaust, it has become the most familiar name in the world synonymous with Holocaust remembrance. The ISHS was established in 1993 aiming to develop and provide the pedagogical approaches and tools for educators around the globe who grapple with teaching the subject matter of the Holocaust. Since then, the ISHS work has spread to over 60 countries, with tens of thousands of educators who learn and teach with accordance to the philosophy, and hold a constant dialogue that deals with the question at heart—how to keep Holocaust studies relevant in today’s classrooms.

Updated: Aug. 31, 2016