Here's what the Education Department at Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) has been up to over the last month.
Thousands of Students Educated, Inspired to Be Allies Against Hate
Holocaust survivor Andy Reti was welcomed at Royal St. George's College in Toronto to share his testimony with students in grades 3-6. As part of his presentation, he inspired the students to take the "Never Again" pledge to always stand up against hate.
The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) educators have witnessed a remarkable month of learning this November! Most of the 126 workshops that were delivered to thousands of students in elementary and secondary schools across Ontario were a result of educators striving to include these important conversations in their classroom dialogue.
In one classroom presentation on the topic of hate and intolerance in Canada, a Grade 7 student reflected on the responsibility we each hold in combatting racism, antisemitism and all forms of hate by sharing that eliminating hate is a math equation. The student stated: “It starts with addition and then subtraction. We don’t want to be adding to the problem ourselves by committing hate crimes. So first, we need to start with ourselves, and then we need to work on subtracting the racism that already exists in our communities and the world outside of ourselves.” This thoughtful reflection demonstrated the student’s understanding of the importance of personal responsibility for our own, individual biases. Furthermore, it showed the student’s understanding of collective care and the importance of allyship. This student's classmates loudly applauded the remark, demonstrating that the dialogue provided an impactful learning opportunity for the entire class.
Holocaust survivor speakers continued to be in high demand this month as well. Holocaust survivor Andy Réti's visit to Royal St. George's College was one of 14 survivor programs offered this month. We watch as Andy and all survivor speakers courageously share their survival stories and inspire the young audiences with whom they speak.
Some of the programs that have been delivered this month have been in response to antisemitic incidents that have happened in schools. FSWC's education team is always ready to support educators in countering these messages of hate that appear in their classrooms. As Holocaust survivor Max Eisen used to state, "It begins with words . . . and ends in terrible places."
Expanding Professional Development on Antisemitism
Due to increasingly high demand for programs specifically on antisemitism, FSWC is expanding the education team by building a department focused exclusively on combatting antisemitism through education and building allyship. We are currently in the interview process and are excited to meet the candidates who have submitted their applications.
If you know of someone who may be interested in this role, please share the job posting and have the candidate contact Melissa Mikel, Director of Education at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tour for Humanity: Notes from the Road
With 21 Tour for Humanity stops this month, FSWC educators have been answering a lot of thoughtful questions from students in grades 3-12.
Some of the questions have included:
- If someone was married to a Jewish person, or if a Jewish person married a non-Jewish person, were they targeted?
- How did the Nazis know if people were Jewish?
- What if Jewish people didn’t wear the yellow Star of David? What would happen?
- While violent acts of antisemitism are dangerous, so are the more subtle, passive comments. What do you think the impact is on young children who are exposed to these types of antisemitic comments?
- If Denmark tried to protect Jewish citizens during the Holocaust, why didn't other countries also do more to protect Jewish people?
Questions are really key to this learning as they indicate how students are thinking about and processing the content that is being delivered. There have been some truly remarkable conversations that have taken place this month on the Tour for Humanity, and we know these conversations will continue in the coming months.