Every year, thousands of teachers from Israel and around the world come to the International School for Holocaust Studies of Yad Vashem to learn how to teach about the Holocaust. In the 70 seminars and professional development programs organized at Yad Vashem in at least ten languages annually, the teachers have the opportunity to hear various lectures from noted experts in history and pedagogy. Additionally, teachers actively participate in workshops and gain hands-on experience with age-appropriate educational resources developed by Yad Vashem.
On July 23, 2015, Italian-speaking Israeli teachers joined a group of Italian educators affiliated with the Italian teachers’ union UIL Scuola in dialogue and learning together at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
At first there was concern that there would not be enough teachers who both spoke fluent Italian and were members of the Association of Secondary School Teachers in Israel (ASSTI), but it quickly became clear that fifteen Israeli educators from around the country were able to join 20 teachers that came from all over Italy. Some of the Israeli teachers shared their family histories with their Italian colleagues, illustrating the importance of teaching the history of the Holocaust. The Israeli teachers were impressed with the Italian teachers’ Holocaust-related projects and commitment.
The day commenced with a joint tour of the Holocaust Art Museum of Yad Vashem and concluded with an in-depth discussion about Holocaust education in both countries. In addition, the teachers spoke about what they can learn from each other and how they can cooperate in the future. All of the educators that participated found great value in the daylong international dialogue and expressed their appreciation for the opportunity, recommending that such encounters continue in the future.
This was the first time that a Yad Vashem seminar for European educators involved Israeli teachers, and Yad Vashem staff members were very impressed. Aside from the friendship and dialogue that developed between the teachers, there was also a sense that this type of discourse can only prove beneficial when addressing a subject as complex and important as the Holocaust.
The staff of the International School for Holocaust Studies of Yad Vashem hope that this cooperation will continue and expand in due course.
The ASSTI (an umbrella for the Israeli History Teachers Association) and Yad Vashem are planning further study days of this kind. To receive information about Yad Vashem professional development programming in Holocaust education for European educators, please contact the European Department of the International School for Holocaust Studies of Yad Vashem: firstname.lastname@example.org