The Story of Jewish Life: Yad Vashem’s Approach to Teaching the Shoah

Fall, 2009

Source: Jewish Educational Leadership. Fall 2009 (8:1) pages 31-35

Source: Since its inception, Yad Vashem has been Israel's standard bearer on Holocaust memory, research and education. Daniel Feldman, a faculty member of Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies describes their approach to education.


Yad Vashem's approach to Holocaust education is "to teach the Shoah as the story of Jewish individuals whose rich pre-war personal histories and inspiring efforts to survive in a world of tragedy and chaos elevate the lived history of the Shoah above any ideology to which the event may be instrumentalized. When the Shoah is taught with rigorous attention to historical detail and empathy for the individuals who suffered the event, students draw their own insightful inferences both about other events and about why the Holocaust continues to be important for them as members of families, Jewish communities and world society."


Yad Vashem's Method: The Shoah as the Story of Jewish Life

Five key themes constitute their approach of teaching the Holocaust as the story of individual Jewish lives. They emphasize:

  • The diversity and vitality of pre-war Jewish life
  • Attempts to sustain Jewish identity under cruel and chaotic circumstances
  • Bystanders and the significance of rescuers and helpers
  • Perpetrators
  • Post-war return to life
Updated: Feb. 21, 2010