Auschwitz As Seen Through the ‘Lens of Faith’

April 5, 2017

Source: Jerusalem Post


After Orthodox educators traveled to Poland to provide insight into experiences of observant Jews at Auschwitz- Birkenau, tour guides at the museum have recently incorporated the “lens of faith” when showing visitors around the concentration camp. While Auschwitz has for years worked with Yad Vashem and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to uncover the depth of the Nazi atrocities perpetrated against the Jews, the recent initiative of Brooklyn’s Amud Aish Memorial Museum and Kleinman Holocaust Education Center is the first of its kind by the Orthodox community.

In December, Amud Aish director Rabbi Sholom Friedmann, ran the training session together with Dr. Henri Lustiger Thaler, chief curator of Amud Aish and the creator of the program, as well as Rabbi Aubrey Hersh from London, an experienced Auschwitz tour guide.

Through lectures and tours of the camp, Auschwitz museum tour guides were taught how religious victims struggled to maintain their identities and fought to observe their faith. They also explored life-or-death questions that victims posed to rabbis.

“The goal of this docent training program is to sensitize guides and visitors to the subjective experiences of the victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau, which took place with a religious mind frame and context,” Lustiger Thaler told the Jerusalem Post. The program allows visitors to learn about transcribed dialogues between prisoners and their rabbis in the very places where they occurred, he said.

Seventy tour guides, who collectively speak 19 languages, attended the training. Head of Methodology of Guiding at the Memorial, Tomasz Michalodo, said the training session provided the docents with a better understanding of the Orthodox community and the different perspective with which they come to Auschwitz in comparison with secular visitors. Michalodo added that the training would not only enrich tours for Orthodox visitors, but for many others too. “If we have say 1.6 million guided here, we can reach most of them with these stories,” he said.

Read the whole story at the Jerusalem Post.

Updated: Apr. 19, 2017