National Policy Conference on Holocaust Education a Success

January 29, 2018

Community Updates

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TheFuture of Holocaust Education:


January27th - 28th, 2018


‍January 27th, 2018 - International Holocaust Remembrance Day


School Board Directors of Education commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp with Holocaust survivors


FSWC President & CEO speaking about antisemitism in a modern context

The Hon. Irwin Cotler gives a passionate presentation on lessons learned from the Holocaust


Museum of Tolerance Director Liebe Geft speaks to the future of Holocaust education from a museum perspective

TDSB Director of Education & Honorary Conference Chair    John Malloy speaks about the power of story in teaching about atrocity

Cobourg Chief of Police Kai Liu shares his personal journey to Holocaust education

Conference Co-Chair Esther Dressler, Author Wendy Lower & Co-Chair Michelle Glied-Goldstein


Shael Rosenbaum (Principal & President of Fremont Street Holdings and Chairman, Sarah & Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre) moderates a discussion on the future of Holocaust education with Holocaust survivors Stefania Sitbon, Max Eisen, Bill Glied & Susan Pasternak


Educators (l to r) Ian Jones (Halton District School Board - retired), Michelle Chair (Regina Catholic School Division), Jennifer Gerwlivch (York Catholic District School Board), Ayesha Shaikh (Calgary Board of Education), Bozena Karwowska (University of British Columbia) discussed best practices in Holocaust education and are joined by conference co-chairs Michelle Glied-Goldstein & Esther Dressler


Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies' (FSWC) 3rd Annual National Policy Conference on Holocaust Education, held in recognition of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, was a thought-provoking, educational experience this past weekend. Marking  the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, Saturday evening's opening dinner was highlighted by a candle-lighting ceremony between Holocaust survivors and a number of school board directors of education, followed by Cobourg Chief of Police Kai Liu's moving  introduction to keynote speaker Max Eisen. Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti provided closing remarks on the evening.  

Sunday's conversations were centred on the future of Holocausteducation. Honourary Conference Chair and Toronto District School Board  Director of Education John Malloy, opened the day with emphasis on the  importance of story in preserving the history of the Holocaust. Story moves the facts and figures of this history, "out of  the head, out of theory and into the heart ... into action." Director Malloy challenged attendees to " injustice, challenge exclusion, foster empathy and compassion, confront discrimination and promote dialogue."  

A panel of Holocaust survivors shared pieces of their personal experiences during the Holocaust along with their request for individuals - particularly in education - to carry on their legacy. "The story must be told," was the message from survivor panelists, through written testimony, video recordings like FSWC's and meaningful memorializations. The panel discussion was led by Shael  Rosenbaum, Principal & President of Fremont Street Holdings  and Chairman of the Sarah & Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre.  

Museum of Tolerance Director Liebe Geft described how museums, "the curators of memory," are already addressing the future of Holocaust education. Through interactive exhibits, displays of  authentic artifacts and personalized testimonies either through video or  in-person meetings, museum attendees are learning the history of the  Holocaust in very meaningful ways. The United States Holocaust Memorial  Museum's Acting Director of Advanced Studies in Holocaust Education and author Wendy Lower emphasized the importance of research in the preservation  of the future of Holocaust education. She explained that scholarship is "necessary and vital to the future of Holocaust education" and that it "makes [the Holocaust] a living history."  

An incredible panel of educators from across Canada  shared some of their best practices in Holocaust education: Bozena  Karwowska (University of British Columbia), Ayesha Shaikh (Calgary Board of  Education, Alberta), Michelle Phair (Regina Catholic School Division,  Saskatchewan), Jennifer Gerwlivch (York Catholic Districts School  Board, Ontario) and moderated by Ian Jones (Halton District School  Board, Ontario). Many of the panelists contributed to FSWC's Best Practices in Holocaust Education digital publication which was released this weekend.  

The Honourable Irwin Cotler gave an impassioned presentation about the lessons that can be drawn from the Holocaust. With the  continued atrocities that have happened, and are continuing to happen as we  speak, there is so much that NEEDS to be learned from this period in history.  

In his presentation, FSWC President & CEO Avi Benlolo made haunting connections from the past to the present, identifying current  antisemitic activities that are becoming all too common not only internationally, but right here in Canada. Avi's message to the  conference participants:  take action. Learn from the past and  continue to champion these important messages.  

A special thank you to conference co-chairs Esther Dressler  and Michelle Glied-Goldstein for their leadership and guidance through the planning of the conference. A tremendous thank you, as well, to all of  the educators, law enforcement personnel, business leaders, authors, publishers, students and volunteers who joined us in this important conversation.  

We look forward to seeing you next year!