Shas cooperation enhances Haredi Holocaust education

New joint effort between Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum, Shas’s Ma’ayan Hinuch Torani gives Sephardi pupils better understanding of Shoah.

GHETTO FIGHTERS’ house museum 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
GHETTO FIGHTERS’ house museum 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A new joint effort between the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum and Shas’s Ma’ayan Hinuch Torani is enhancing the Holocaust education of the educational network’s haredi Sephardi pupils.
“I was surprised at the low numbers of haredi visitors,” said Rami Hochman, general director of the museum, located in the Western Galilee Kibbutz Lohamei Hageta’ot, explaining his initiative.
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“So I approached Rabbi Yoav Ben-Tzur, director-general of Ma’ayan Hinuch Torani, who immediately came on board.
“Rabbis arrived at the museum, we formed educational programs, and last week we had the first visit of a girls’s school from Migdal Ha’emek. It was very moving to see how deeply emotionally involved the girls were,” he said.
“There is a great openness, a thirst for knowledge and asking questions,” Hochman said.
To accommodate to the sensitivities of the sector, video testimonials of haredi survivors were added to the tour at the Yad Layeled children’s museum constructed for these groups, and immodest images were removed. In addition, a weekly educational program will be held for the network’s teachers.
Despite the existence of Nazi labor camps in North Africa, and the wiping out of Sephardi communities such as the Jews of Salonika, “most of the Sephardi children do not have a direct family link to the Holocaust,” and therefore the outreach to such a populace is all the more important, Hochman added.
When asked if he had also approached the Ashkenazi haredi educational system, Hochman said there had been talks with former deputy education minister Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism), which he believes will continue with MK Menahem Eliezer Mozes, who now holds that position on behalf of the party.
“We hope such a program will work with [the Ashkenazi haredi educational institutions] as well. The success with Ma’ayan Hahinuch Hatorani exceeded our expectations,” Hochman said.
To Ben-Tzur, the work with the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum is a natural part of his institution’s educational directive on the Holocaust, the focus being on the Sephardi and haredi Jewry aspects, on the instruction of head of the Shas Council of Torah Sages Rabbi Ovadia Yosef some years ago.
“The network... sees a great importance in learning about the destruction of European Jewry, to pass on educational and moral values relevant to contemporary students, while acknowledging the disappearing generation of Holocaust survivors,” a message recently sent out to the Ma’ayan schools read. It stressed the added values of “devotion to Torah and mitzvot in any situation, forming a faithful outlook on questions that rise from the period, and connecting [students] to the Jewish life of the North African countries in those years.”
“We found room for a broad range of educational activities, everything suited to the limitations of the haredi public,” Ben-Tzur said.
“The Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum made the necessary accommodations in the content taught: who teaches the materials and what images are shown.
Everything is done under rabbinic supervision, and with Yosef’s blessing.”