A ‘Dybbuk Model’ for Holocaust Pedagogy: The Case of the Distribution of Ka-Tzetnik’s Books


Source: Contemporary Jewry 2017


Between 1990 and 2001, the Israeli Ministry of Education freely distributed to students countless copies of the books written by Holocaust author Ka-Tzetnik. This educational project has never been researched and, despite its magnitude and uniqueness, it has abruptly disappeared from public awareness as if it had never been carried out. The motivations that stand behind this initiative and the lessons it teaches about Holocaust pedagogy are the focus of this article.

The article examines the influence of political and psychological dimensions in Holocaust pedagogy on the choice of a curriculum. It ultimately offers a close analysis of the conduct of the protagonists of this educational affair and it gives rise to a “dybbuk model” for Holocaust pedagogy. This model offers new insights into Holocaust memory in general.

The large-scale project of distributing Ka-Tzetnik’s books to Israeli students in the 1990s can easily be marked as an educational success: These books have reached and impacted a generation of Israeli school children. But of greater interest is the fact that this educational initiative was warmly embraced by the Israeli Ministry of Education’s personnel, including senior and junior staff members as well as teachers and administrators, all for a limited period of time. The main aim of this article is to study the reasons for this accomplishment: What was the promise that Ka-Tzetnik’s books carried? What educational goals did those involved believe that KaTzetnik’s books would help them to achieve, and what motives stand behind this quite unanimous choice of curriculum? Finally, why did this project disappear from public awareness? Here, I refer to the more or less coordinated abandonment of the books project and to its consignment to oblivion. In order to approach these questions, I will begin with a short presentation of Ka-Tzetnik’s figure, his public presence, and his literary style.

Updated: Sep. 06, 2017