Stories and Sages: New Directions in Holocaust Education

Fall, 2009

Source: Jewish Educational Leadership. Fall 2009 (8:1) pages 45-47


The author describes a curriculum which he has designed that suggests new directions in Holocaust pedagogy. The curriculum focuses on literature and the arts enhanced by traditional Jewish texts and contemporary Jewish stories that lead students to reflect on their lives as Jews in the wake of the Holocaust.


The rationale for prioritizing narrative is that it allows for a profound internalization of the material, encourages a feeling of responsibility, and provides the context in which to carry the learning forward. The use of Torah text is intended to enrich and complement the Holocaust narratives by conceptualizing the ideas presented in the stories in a framework of Jewish identity. This deeper connection is necessary as the survivors pass on and only our students are left to tell their stories.


This methodology gives it an ability to engage a broad range of students, including those who may not have access to direct survivor testimony, who may not be affected by historical facts alone, who may have no background or knowledge of the event, and those from the ultra-religious world who generally learn about the Holocaust only in the context of global Jewish tragedies. As such, it creates a more seamless relationship between the subject of the Holocaust and the educational goals of the students' learning environments.


This method allows us not only to teach about what happened but also to create a deeper relationship between those events and the students studying them and to imbue students with the commitment to carry the message after the age of the survivors. This experience is transformative as students accept their Holocaust legacy and examine and build a reflective Jewish identity in its wake.

Updated: Feb. 21, 2010