"Remembering the Holocaust imposes on us a greater than ever before duty for moral awareness, precisely because we know of the potential existence of radical evil in every human society,” said Raya Kalisman, director of the Center for Humanistic Education, quoting historian Saul Friedlander as she opened the three-day international conference on Holocaust Education at the Ghetto Fighters Museum on Tuesday morning. She explained the phrase effectively sums up the mission of the Center for Humanistic Education, which has been functioning within the museum for 18 years.
The forum, entitled “Holocaust Education for Democratic Values” and initiated by the Center for Humanistic Education, aims at opening a discussion on how to teach the topic to students but also on the links between Holocaust education and democratic education. The conference targets educators of all grades and at guiding them when teaching the subject in class.
Some of the items brought up at the event included the use of analogies in teaching the Holocaust; the connection between educating about it and educating about democracy; visual arts using Holocaust imagery and more. Participants were Israeli scholars and education professionals as well as academics from various foreign countries.
“Democracy is what can protects us from such tragedies,” emphasized Kalisman. “Learning about it awakens us to the other's needs. Ignoring the other’s suffering is in fact the greatest danger to society.”
“It will always be important to speak about the Holocaust,” said Paul Salmons, head of the Holocaust Education Development program at the University of London’s Institute of Education. “The issues that the Holocaust raises are very present and relevant in the lives of young people in the United Kingdom,” he added.
Salmons, who spoke at the conference on Tuesday morning, further explained the Holocaust Education Development program aims at guiding teachers across the UK on the topic.
Dr Martin Salm, chairman of the Remembrance, Responsibility and Future foundation in Berlin, which funded the conference, said: “We believe it’s necessary that the young generation maintains awareness about the Holocaust, but we also believe that it’s got to be taught in a way that something that happened 60-70 years ago still touches them.”
“It’s our mandate at the foundation to transmit lessons learned from that particular history to the youngsters,” Salm added.
Dr. Anat Livne, director of The Ghetto Fighters House Museum said in a statement: "The goal of this conference is to shed some light on the education system in dealing with on of the most important aspect of our complex society.” We believe that understanding the connection between the study of the Holocaust and education for democracy can strengthen values that contribute to the existence of a good and just society.
The summit, which is open to the public, ends on Thursday afternoon.