the shoah and Jewish identity: How Do We Teach About Israel, Zionism and the Shoah?

Nine years ago, I was invited
to join the staff of Torah Umesorah, the National Society
for Hebrew Day Schools, which is the organization founded in 1947 to bring the idea of Hebrew day schools
to the United States. At Torah Umesorah, I run a division
that is called School Solutions that brings solutions to schools in the areas of
instruction, communication, and leadership. David. Shalom and welcome.
My name is David Dishon, and I’m originally from Philadelphia
where I lived to the age of 21. In 1973, I made Aliyah,
and I’ve lived ever since in Yerushalayim. I’ve been associated with the Shalom Hartman
Institute in Jerusalem for almost 40 years. I learned with Shaya there. And in 1985, we founded the Torani
High School of the Shalom Hartman Institute, a modern orthodox high school which teaches in a spirit of respecting
all the differences that we have and creating a modern Jewish identity. We now have a sister, girl school, and both high schools
are from 7th through 12th grade. I’m the Director of Jewish Studies
at the boys’ high… Thank you.
Could I just ask, am I being simultaneously
translated right now? Anyone?
Gosh, that’s very exciting. I’ve never been translated
before, and so thank you. And translators,
you’re doing a fantastic job. I am in awe of your skills.
I just wanted to say that. Okay, in Mount Scopus,
let’s start with the Zionism. I would say having Israel,
modern state of Israel, as a central part of Jewish identity
is integral to our school. Israel education runs really from
beginning to end of our school curriculum, although we also specialize
in Israel studies in the middle school. We bring our kids to Israel. Right now, we have 100 kids
from year 10 in Israel at the moment, some of whom are actually
wandering around this building as I speak. And that is very much part of
a holistic way of attaching them to Israel. Our aims for our Israel education are to make our students feel
a tremendous connection to Israel, to make our students understand that Israel is very much the center
of the Jewish world today. But also, and this, I think, has been
a change perhaps over the last 10 years, to give a nuanced reflection
of the real state of Israel. Obviously, more nuanced and more complex
as we go up through the school. We’ve moved away from the flag and falafel
and the Israel being only a beautiful country to presenting Israel
more as a real country, but we think we do this
with the aim and the benefit of creating a deeper
and a more real connection to Israel and one that will be sustained
after the students leave our school and come face-to-face with what other
people say about Israel in the wider world. In terms of the Shoah, as already been said, Australia has a very high proportion of survivors living in Sydney,
in Melbourne in particular, and many of our students are third,
fourth generation from survivors, and the Holocaust memory,
and the Shoah, if you like, significance and remembering the Shoah
is a very integral part of Melbourne Jewish life, even before the school gets involved. We teach Holocaust education as a course
at various stages in the middle school. Obviously, the informal education, the events that we celebrate in the school,
or rather commemorate, include Yom Ha’Shoah as a high priority, and I think our students have
a very real sense of the information and some of the implications
of the Holocaust. What I still ask myself, and I hope to get some answers
from this very conference, is where we want our
students to go with that, and to be quite honest,
I’m not quite sure. We want it to be part
of their Jewish identity. We don’t want it by any means to be
the totality of their Jewish identity, and we’re very careful about that, but how it should impact on them as Jews, how it should change their lives… To be honest, I think we’re
still working on that, and we continue to do so. I just have a short comment. I’ve not realized that
I’m not so young anymore because when I lived in Australia
and worked in the Scopus College, I used to say that the students
are the third generation, and you have said that now we have
the fourth generations there, which means it’s the next generation. In my school, I have a problem. I couldn’t say in the beginning
that I’m a modern orthodox, but then some of the parents
of my school would be very upset. I couldn’t say that I’m Charedi-modern, so maybe other people will get upset. And so, what we lead, it’s like this, normal Jewish family in Mexico, normal parents, actually, they want three
things for their kids. They want them to have
a “Yiddishkeit”, Jewish identity. They want them to have circular studies, to be able to face the “Parnosa”, to be able to be self-efficient grown up, and they want them to be a good person, “Menschlichkeit”. So, what we try to do to build it in a way that in my school, I have Charedim families, sons of Avrechim, Charedim top, if we use labels, and I have Dati Leumi, and I have people,
that are not so religious, in that term, you know. And what we try to do all the time is to make it inclusive, not exclusive. Because they are more common between the different families,
than differences. So, and the founder of the school and the majority of people
who work in the school, they are Zionist. But what is Zionist? There can be many definitions
what it is to be Zionist. There are… So what we do all the time… We do… For example…
I’ll give you example: Once came to me a parent,
says to me, “Listen, “I heard that if I put
my children in your school, “when they finish 18,
they go to the Tzava. “They’re going to go to the Tzava.
I don’t want…” He was afraid. I said to him, “Not exactly.” So what we try to do, we try to make the children understand
that Eretz Yisrael was given to us. It is the Jewish land, and we’re very fortunate
that we have now the state of Israel that, it’s opened. If we want, we can come. And whenever we have chance, whenever things happening in Eretz Israel, let’s say, like, two weeks ago, when there was, when there was lot of fire taking
around all different places in Eretz Israel. So we gathered all the children to the
Beit Midrash and we saifd Tehilim. and probably now
we’re going to do a campaign to raise money so we’ll be
able to plant more trees. So, in basic daily life, we try to do different activities
that it will be very natural for those kids, I know that Eretz Israel is part of them, that the Jews will live
in Eretz Israel as part of them, that the State of Israel
is part of them. So when they grow up, and they’ve not made Aliyah… The majority of them will not make Aliyah. But if somebody will come from
Medinat Israel, Eretz Israel, they have the heart open
and the pocket open. And that way,
they will be connected. And something about the Holocaust you want to mention…
-Now about the Holocaust. Yeah. I forgot. Yeah. About the Holocaust.
-Don’t have much time. Yeah. The Holocaust… We do teach the Holocaust. We don’t teach it in primary school,
not in secondary, maybe in the end of the secondary. And we don’t build the Jewish identity because my parents
were killed in the Holocaust, or because Jews
were killed in the Holocaust. We don’t do that. The Holocaust is part of Jewish history, and we teach Jewish history. It’s something very close to us. It’s something very big, and we have to learn and have to see
what we can take from that for become a better Jew,
a better human being and look to the future, not… And I’m starting to think I’m son of
both parents are Holocaust survivors. So… What definitely I don’t want to do, I don’t want a kid at my school will say… Because of the… Define his identity because
Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Okay. Thank you, Avishai. And Rabbi Joshua, please. Try to keep it within three
to four minutes, okay? Okay. If not just stand up and start singing,
“in a little bit I’m supposed to stop”! That was the humor for the day. So, as a principal, I had
ten leadership commandments for myself, and the first one was,
“Put on your own mask and then the mask
of the people you’re traveling with.” In other words, how did I feel about
all of these subjects? What was my connection
to the state of Israel? What was my connection to the Shoah? So I wanted to reflect
with you that in 1956, my parents took a trip to Israel. That was their three-week vacation. My grandfather who came from Russia
didn’t believe that they were gonna go and come in three weeks. “W’re just gonna go to Israel?” This was 1956. So I was raised in a regular home, and Israel was a message
that that’s a place to go. They also went after that
to other places on vacation. But the first place that
they went was to Israel. In second grade, Rabbi Nachum Muschel, blessed memory, came in and told us that
the Six Day War had started. We were seven years old. But he told us that our people was at war. And that’s the message that I got. And that’s the message
that I try to give to our students. It’s our people, and we daven every day “Vl’Yerushalyim Ircha Brachamim Tashuv.” and many of our parents and grandparents could not get on a plane and go, and we can get on a plane and go, and we should cherish that opportunity. There was a wide variety
of observances in the school, in the schools that I worked in. In two of the schools, 80 percent… They were all orthodox schools, 80 percent of the students
did not identify as orthodox, and I was always
conscious of the fact that these are people who are a little
embarrassed to be Jewish to begin with. Their friends went to country day school, and they were going to Rambam
or to United Hebrew Institute, and they were just a little
embarrassed to be Jews. So I looked for ways to make
Israel’s importance proud. Liking biographies, I tried to
bring people into the school, not only on Yom Ha’atzmaut
and then Yom HaShoah. People. Connect them to people. And I feel especially in our digital age, that’s what gets the message across: people speaking. So, I was personally not a fan
of the barbecue on Yom Ha’atzmaut, because I felt that that creates the idea
that Yom Ha’atzmaut is like July 4th. And Yom Ha’atzmaut
is not about a barbecue. That may be what people
who live here do to celebrate, but they’ve done a lot more. Some of them have given
their sons, their daughters, their mothers, their fathers, so they can have a barbecue. So yes, we had the falafel, etc, but it was about giving more of an idea of what are the cities like,
what are the people like. And the third thing
I’d like to say is that, I ask myself the why. What’s the why? Why are we teaching this?
Is this Jewish social studies? In a sense, yes. And in line with that… Do I have one more minute? Project-based learning,
which we know a lot about. Project-based learning and using KWL which is a strategy which
most of you know about, and have the students
be in charge of the KWL. What do you know?
What do you want to know? What have you learned? I am a fan of turning the learner
into the driver, and let’s see where the learner
goes with the information, and we serve as the resource as opposed to the sage on the stage. So just to summarize, to give over the messages,
’cause that’s how we got the messages, and number two,
to see what learning activities that are excellent learning
strategies will work. And number three,
to tie it back to the why. For me the why is “Bechol Dor Ve’Dor”, there are people want to destroy us. For us, “kol Israel arevim ze laze”, and you’re connected, not because of
your poor brothers and sisters in Israel, but because you’re connected. And number three, Judaism looks back. All of our holidays look back. Our iPod looks forward,
but in Judaism, we look back. So those are some of the ideas
that I wanted to convey to our students. Thank you. We look back in order to look forward. Okay. David. Okay.
-Please. First of all, my students
are all Israeli teenagers. A few of them are Olim Chadashim. Some of them are children
of Olim Chadashim, but they’re basically Israeli teenagers that grew up in neighborhoods
in Yerushalayim, and Yeshuvim around Yerushalayim. My teacher, Rabbi David Hartman, wrote an important article
about 30 years ago. It was called “Auschwitz or Sinai?” with a question mark, in which he argued strongly
that Auschwitz, the Shoah, should not be the center
of one’s Jewish identity, but rather, Jewish values. Jewish values and spirituality. So therefore, Shoah is not the center of what we do in order to
develop Jewish identity. I would say learning Torah,
learning Gemara, learning Jewish philosophy,
learning Halacha, and in particular, and this was the reason
the Hartman High School was founded, to connect all these studies to basic
Jewish and human values. What are the values that stand behind
the things that we’re learning? Notions of social justice
and notions of morality, etc. Dilemmas of morality. With that said, in fact, I’d like particularly to talk about perhaps
trips to Poland, which we have every year. Approximately between two thirds and
three quarters of the senior class sign up for it. I’ve been to Poland with
these groups seven times, and very often,
eyebrows are raised… Also in his time,
David Hartman himself, he passed away three years ago, “Why do you have to go to Poland
to strengthen your Jewish identity, “especially if you live in Israel?” It sounds really strange, but we just kept pointing
out is simply a fact is that the Shoah is very dramatic, and it has a very powerful impact, and there are for some
reason or many reasons, the Shoah connects with people’s souls in a way that very often, even a very, very good lesson in Talmud
or Jewish philosophy, etc., doesn’t connect. So it’s an important
part of the curriculum. It’s an important part
of Jewish identity. And maybe I’ll just speak
very briefly about the goals of the trip to Poland as a kind of
core experience that we’re looking for. In Poland, what are the goals? Well, first of all, to identify
with Jewish suffering in the Holocaust. Also, in a sense of pride
in Jewish independence and strength in the ability to defend
ourselves in Israel. That certainly gets a big boost
in the Holocaust, for myself, personally,
and for the kids on the trip. The Israeli flag becomes something very, very central,
to walk through these camps with the Israeli flag raised high. On my last trip, I discovered that
you could no longer do this in Auschwitz, which is really sad, but the previous trips,
the kids just wore it like a tallit. It was amazing. The pride of the survivors also. Again, until the last
trip that I did which was over a year and a half ago, we always had a survivor come with us, tell his experiences, and there’s no… Avraham Carmi,
if anybody knows who that is, and an absolutely incredible person. And their sense of victory in having reestablished
their lives and their offspring, their children and their grandchildren, is something that we definitely
want the kids to feel. And at the same time, our trips, not every trip to Poland,
but our trips, also emphasize a sense
of universal morality, a sense of we’re standing at the site
of incredible crimes against human dignity. We have tremendous criticism of those who
stood by idly and didn’t put a stop to this, and this should tell us something about
our own responsibilities in the world, and which unfortunately,
crimes against human dignity are taking place, many of them not far from Israel itself. And another factor
is meeting with Polish students. Every single trip of ours, we have a kind of a
sister school relationship with a very, very old
high school in Krakow. It was founded 500 years ago. And we visit them. They have come and visited us. There’s always meetings
and in fact recently, kind of joint study about certain things that
bring together Jews and Poles in Poland, and it’s important for us
to kind of break the stereotype that all Poles are anti-Semitic,
or all Poles hate Jews, and they really meet
young Polish students, very bright kids, who are very enthusiastic
about meeting youth, Jewish youth from Israel. Now this… I think delicately try to promote… This goes back also to the
philosophy of David Hartman. David Hartman was always upset
by the sense of Jewish triumphalism, the fact that you have to… “We’re right.
Everybody else is wrong. “We are the children of light. “Everybody else
is the children of darkness.” That does not have
to be a Jewish position, does not have to be
the unorthodox Jewish position, and they see it,
and they feel it in practice, when they meet sensitive people
coming from other traditions. -Thank you, David. I just want to add, to make
a comment as David said day before, we know each other for almost 40 years. As I was one of those who welcomed David
when he worked at Hartman Institute. ’79.
-Okay. ’78.
-’78, which means that I was… As David said… As David said… As David said for David Hartman,
the Rabbi Hartman, the Holocaust
was not an issue or an episode or historical event to build our identity. He highly spoke against it and said because it’s built
a negative Jewish identity. So when I came to Australia, and I witnessed the students
in Mount Scopus College, I can say that that was one of
the biggest shocks I ever had in my life because I realized that it’s absolutely different from what I knew
before I came to Australia. I didn’t do know actually
much about the Holocaust, but I realized that it’s
very, very different than what I heard
in the Hartman Institute, and when I came back to Israel, I had many, many meetings
with David discussing this issue, with David Hartman, and I don’t know if you know that
about six, seven years ago, four years, I think,
before he passed away, he told me, “Shaya, you were right.” He understood that Holocaust
can be very different than shaping a negative Jewish identity. Rabbi Helzberg please. -Thank you. I’m representing
a school that’s a paradox: the Yeshivah of Flatbush. A member of the distinguished
international panel here right now, and people meet people. “I’m from Australia.” “Wow.” “I’m from Mexico.” “Very interesting.” I introduce myself: “I’m from Brooklyn.” I get an, “Oh.” Okay? Thank you. And why I say it’s paradoxical, you can’t be more provincial
than Brooklyn, New York, “bein le’tov, bein le’ra”. Even though I live in Queens,
full disclosure. And so one the one hand,
I represent the school that’s so Brooklyn, and yet, when it comes to
Yom Ha’atzmaut, Yom Ha’Shoah, we have the programs at the Yeshivah of Flatbush
that are internationally renowned. It’s one of the few places
in the United States, not just the New York area, that you still have on Leil Yom Ha’atzmaut,
a program that people come to, as far as that they can
drive on a given night. We have that same large
program on Yom Ha’Shoah, So on the one hand,
people from outside our school are looking to us for guidance, cutting-edge, how we’re doing it, and by the same token,
why I say it’s a paradox, internally, over the years, my clientele,
my demographic right now, certainly on the elementary school
and the middle school is 90 percent Syrian. That means my students
are coming to me, in complete contrast to the Sydney,
Australian experience, where the students are coming
with a narrative from the home already, my students for the most part are coming to me
with zero narrative about the Holocaust. Yes, you have some students
who have what we call a mixed marriage,
Ashkenazi and Sephardi, and they may have had
a grandparent who survived or experienced the Holocaust,
or a relative. But for the most part,
they’re coming with very little background. So on the academic level,
on the one hand, we’ve gotta train these kids, give them the basic building blocks, and have a curriculum
that’s designed to do that, and at the same time, institutionally, understand that we’re
still being looked at as the example and the exemplar
of what should be being done out there. So it creates quite the internal challenge
to be able to meet both those challenges. Now in terms of the curriculum itself, we have your standard
programs and interdisciplinary approach, combination of formal
and informal education, and we’re always trying new things
and looking for new things, but that’s our biggest challenge. Now, in terms of the method goal, that overarching goal, where we’re going,
this is institutional. And talking about Jewish identity which really is giving me a lot
of thought over the past couple of days, trying to articulate
what we have out there, to put some words to describe it, is that we’re looking as an institution to create that idea
that at the end of the day, all too often our students and our people
only remember the part of the Torah about being Am Segula,
about being the chosen people, but we forget the Yeshayahu,
about “Or Lagoy’im”, that we’re out there,
we have to be an exemplar to the world. And to that end, we do the Poland trip,
and it’s very special. I’ve had the Zechut to be
a chaperone to that as well. But in a certain sense of pulling all
these different experiences together, I’m actually more proud
of the programs that we do when we go to the Hessad
mission in January to Eretz Israel, that Yeshiva of Flatbush
is the loadstar for. Or two years ago, during the war in Gaza, where high school students,
and I went along as one of the chaperones, came in the middle of the summer
during the war to visit wounded soldiers. Ad Kedey Kach,
I remember I was leaving the county, at immigration control,
passport control in Ben Gurion Airport, and I had a really bad experience that day. I was stopped every step
of the way at the airport by somebody, and finally, I had nothing
left in me, and the immigration, the guy at the passport
control asks me again, “Why are you here?” And I just lost it. And I start telling him the whole story. “We’re visiting wounded
soldiers” and so on and so forth. And the guy started to cry. He was in the middle of war.
He began to cry. I’ve never seen that before. This tough Israeli sitting
there, started to cry. He said, “You must have
an amazing school.” And I said, “We do.” And it’s those things
then when the kids come to me after the hurricane in Haiti and say, “We’ve got to raise money
for the Haitians as well.” I think that between
learning about the Shoah and learning about
the Zionist and living it, when the students have
come and understand that “We need to be ‘Or La’goyim'”. I think that’s how
our identity we take from it to help the rest of the world. -[Woman] Can we ask questions? -Later on, by the end of the round. The next question…
I think a lot has been said, and there are different questions
that were raised. And I would like to move a little bit aside from what are the questions
that we were asked. I think Rabbi Kennard,
you asked the major question. So what we do with that?
What do we want to achieve? Can I rephrase the question? And I would like you
to repeat that question again because I think that’s
the issue we have to discuss. Well, thank you for that opportunity. I did want to ask the question, and I did want to move away
from the set text. And it’s probably good to wake us
all up on this post-lunch session. To me, I’ve been here
for two and a half days, and I’m still not clearer about really
the question I wanted answered, which is, “What is the purpose of
Holocaust education?” And it’s fascinating that
listening to this panel, although my colleagues
have given many approaches, but we’ve heard much more
about what it’s not for. All of us, I think,
have said what it’s not for. And we heard Lord Sax this morning say, “It’s not that Holocaust should be
the basis of one’s Jewish identity.” We heard Yehuda Bauer say, “The Holocaust is not Jewish identity. “Jewish identity is not the Holocaust.” And yet here I am in Yad Vashem, a building, an institution, a movement dedicated to keeping alive
the memory of the Holocaust, but I haven’t yet heard clearly the answer of what is the purpose. I’d like to make the question
a little bit stronger because I think looking
at my own students, one can go in two
diametrically opposed ways. And with your indulgence,
I just want to take a minute to say, I was struck by an article
I read in Haaretz, I don’t normally read Haaretz,
but I was here, and I was linked to it, and it was the granddaughter
of a Holocaust survivor, earlier this week, saying that she
had married a non-Jewish person Davka because of her
grandmother’s experience as a survivor. How can this possibly be? Because she said
that what the Holocaust was, was the worst form of racism, and we should respond
with the highest form of antiracism, and to be told that she as a Jew,
should not marry a non-Jew, that’s racism. Therefore, the best response
to the Holocaust is to intermarry. Yeah.
I mean, it’s a bit mind blowing, especially where I come from
a community where, as I said, to my regret, I think one of the main reasons for staying
Jewish is because of the Holocaust, and here I see an argument,
which to be honest I think was quite logical, about why the Holocaust
should give me the exact opposite. Now, what I’ve heard…
I’m coming to the end of my point. What I’ve heard a lot
over the last couple of days, is that from the Holocaust,
we should derive universal messages about antiracism,
about tolerance, about humanity. I’ve heard much less,
although I think we all are aware, that there’s a message
of the continuity of the Jewish people. The Holocaust was an attack on,
not just on humanity, but it was an attack on Jews. And therefore, to me, it’s obvious
that the response should be the Jewish people must carry on. I feel, to be honest,
in my own town of Melbourne… I’m talking more generally
than my own school. That message is downplayed a bit. But I realize there is actually
a contradiction between these two issues. Is the message of the Holocaust
that the Jewish people should triumph? Or is the message of the Holocaust
a much more universal message of tolerance for everybody? The answer obviously is it’s both, but I’d like to ask the question, how do we reconcile the contradiction
between those two elements? And thank you for your time
and letting me speak. I think… Okay. I’m going to be part
of the panelists now, okay? Because I have my own perspective, so I want to maybe add
to that a little bit. And I would like to share with you something from Mount Scopus and then to say something
about experience here because, again, it’s a question. If by the end what we take from
the experience of the Holocaust, the chapter of history. So then it’s less important because it’s 70 years already. If it’s telling us that, as you said, that we have to be against racism
by marrying non-Jews… I wasn’t proposing that. Yeah, no… But if that’s
the message that one can take, it’s discouraging. When I came to Australia, to the same college, and I couldn’t understand why it’s so important for the students, I went to their classrooms when the students had classes there, and I tried to see how they react, and I realized that when there is lessons about the Holocaust,
they’re listening, they participate,
and they want to be involved. And when there are lessons about TaNaCh, Jewish history, Hebrew. They’re all monkeying around. They’re not interested. It’s boring. They disturb the teachers. So, I told the teachers, “I don’t understand why.” But they realize that
the students in Scopus are interested about Holocaust education, about the Holocaust. I didn’t know if it was education. When you want
to teach Tanach, try to think about
something from the Holocaust. Take a story how Tanach
was taught in Warsaw ghetto and then go to the lessons. Find a sophisticated way. And surprisingly, it worked. So then I tried to understand
it a little bit deeper, and I called students to my office, which was next to Tony McCartney’s
office at that time. I know. I have to talk with him. And that was a revolution in the college, to ask students to come to speak openly with the head of Jewish studies. I came from an open school in Israel, so my office was always open for students. So, I start talking with the students, and I learned from them that they
take the issue of the Holocaust as something that’s important to them
because then they feel that they have exactly the opposite of what this
lady took from her grandmother probably. They feel that they have
a responsibility for the Jewish people. They understood that something was lost. There is a void. They have to connect
themselves to that world. They were interested because they wanted to know more about this world, and when they learned about it, they asked themselves, “What do we have to do
with that in our own life?” And that’s a very different approach
to what you can do with that. And based off that, we have
tried to do much more in though I don’t know if you still have
Seder for the Shoah in this college? Because when I was there
during Yom Ha’Shoah, I think it was grade eleven or ten, we had a Shoah Seder
in our Jewish studies classes. Or Avishai, maybe. What are the questions? The question that
Rabbi Kennard raised is… Why do we teach the Holocaust? Yeah. Why? Is it important? What does it do for them? First of all, why do we
teach it, or if we teach it? I think if you talk with English men, you learn about the history
of the English people. You talk with French. You learn about the history
of the French people. So Jews should learn
the history of his people. Holocaust is recent,
is part of Jewish history. So we have to teach it. What do we want to gain? What do you want to gain
when you teach history? Generally? The Holocaust is close. It’s very shocking. But I think… What you can gain? You can gain, you give
many examples of very fine Jews, that even though
they didn’t have guns, and they didn’t have the army, they could stand up for being Jews. And there’s a lot of heroic
action during the Holocaust, and I think that’s a good
example to carry on. The Jewish child should… Adults can… You know in Mexico, lately, there’s many Syrian Jews… Group of Syrian Jews. They have two communities
of Syrian Jews. One is called Shami, and the other is called Halabi. They start to do… They gather like 20 couples. They can fit on a bus. They do like a “marcha de la vida”, Personally. They go to Poland. Why? I mean, their parents didn’t suffer there. But in some way, we’re Jewish. We feel connected. Something very big happened
to the Jewish people. So they go, and when they come back… Once I was talking with one business man that went to this trip. He said to me, “You know what I learned? I learned that if I didn’t collect money from my client because
he was pushing him on, and I had a little tough
time in my business, Nisht Geferlach It’s not the end of the world. I saw example, that Jews
didn’t have anything, and they built a life after it. So I think there are things
we can, if we teach… If we teach, this is what
we can give the children. And I want to say something. Maybe it won’t be so popular. Personally, I don’t think
that I have to show my students that they have to be “Or La’Goyim”. They have to be “Or” for themselves. If they’ll be “Or” for themselves,
maybe they will be “Or La’Goyim”. Did the Goyim ask them if… Did the Goyim say
to the Jewish, “Be an “Ohr” for me?” I mean, why to put on the shoulders
of a 15, 16, 17 years old boy, “You have to be ‘Or La’Goyim’?” “I don’t want to be Or La’Goyim. I want to be a normal human being.” If he’ll be “Or” for himself, probably eventually
he’s also gonna be “Or La’Goyim”. And also this attitude, “Or La’Goyim”. Sometimes the Goyim
can be also “Or” for us. If you don’t believe me, you can see in Parashat Yitro. Yitro wasn’t a Jew, he was a Goy, that Moshe Rabenu
learned from new things. I think that’s exactly how the morning with Professor Cotler ended,
about Wallenberg. So, you came from Philadelphia. I live in Philadelphia. Why do thousands of people
flock to see the Liberty Bell? Because citizens of America have rights. They have responsibilities and feelings. I was in a few schools
outside of the United States, where they were talking
about global citizenship. So I think that we’re actually
giving our students a mixed message. And I’m wondering if we shouldn’t
give more of a clear message, that citizenship in the Jewish people also has rights,
responsibilities, and feelings. Whatever level of observance
you want to talk about, let’s all remember
that it started with an observant Jew. His name was Abraham. He was also thrown into a crematoria. He came out. So from time in memorial, the world has had a Jewish problem. And I’m wondering if in addition
to preparing our students to compete in the global marketplace,
which they should be trained to do, should we make sure not to lose
the Jewish identity that citizenship in the Jewish people
is knowing all about your Jewish history and experience, which in the happy places is happy, and in the sad places is sad. The difference between, to me… I told you about putting on my own mask. The difference to me between the Holocaust
and Yetziat Mitzrayim is that we can still taste the Holocaust. It has the word 19 before it. And we don’t know how to date
Yetziat Mitzrayim. And I think that if we ask ourselves, Are we afraid to say
you’re a citizen of the Jewish people? That has rights.
It has responsibilities. It has privileges. And it has feelings. And not to trivialize the Holocaust
with the Liberty Bell, but just like citizens feel something
when they see that Liberty Bell, when they walk the streets
that Ben Franklin walked on, when they go to Valley Forge
where George Washington crossed, there’s a feeling. So, when we go a few miles away
to Kever Shmuel Ha’Navi, we also have a feeling, and we connect, and I’m wondering if we
should ask ourselves, Are we giving enough citizenship to the rights,
responsibilities, and feelings that our students have a right to? I would like to address Rabbi Kennard’s question or dilemma about educating
for Jewish particularism and educating to universal values. I think we’re all… Probably most people here will say, “Well, yeah. It goes hand in hand. You educate for both.” And I think it’s important
that in educating for both, that we give… Certainly we try
to give our students a sense that it’s not particularist values
versus universalist values, but the universalist values
about human dignity, etc., come from the Torah. They come from the heart of Yahadut. They come from the heart of Judaism. And for instance,
very often at each camp in Poland, there’s always a ceremony with music and with kids read stuff that they took or they wrote for themselves. And I usually ask at one of those ceremonies just to be part of the ceremony
and say something. And I usually quote a passage
that I love very much, written by Rav Kook, in which he talks about
Hahavat Ha’Bryot, the love of all human beings. It’s a very powerful piece. And it’s not an accident that
I chose it from Rav Kook because Rav Kook
in many ways symbolizes… Certainly the settler movement, etc.,
sees him as their great rabbi and general all of religious Zionism
sees him as a great rabbi. But I think the idea is that issues
of human dignity and ethics, they’re not political issues. It’s not an issue of left versus right or what you happen to think about, the greater Israel or not. These are fundamental issues
that all conscientious Jews, both those who identify
themselves with the left and those who identify with the right, should be committed to. And at the same time, they identify
very much with what David talked about, that the students,
and it’s obvious for them. Yes, we’ll come, and we want to
help Israel in its time of need. And yes, we also want to do
something for the refugees in Haiti. And it’s not a contradiction. If you understand that,
you understand that they flow together. I think the person who symbolizes that
so well was the late Elie Wiesel. Absolutely committed to Judaism. Absolutely committed to Israel. And totally involved in Cambodia and Darfur, wherever there was human suffering. I think these are the role models
that we should present to the students, and these are some of the things
that when we talk about the Holocaust because it’s not
just part of Jewish history, it’s an incredible phenomenon, an event, in world history, and it happened to us, and there’s no way that we could not give it
very, very serious weight educationally. Thank you, David. Rabbi Helzberg please. Regarding the why we’re teaching
the Holocaust, in terms of that question, I think that we each would have
several different answers depending on the time of day
that we’re asked or at the moment, but at the end of that day, it’s something that I think we all believe
in our gut at this point in time that it’s extremely important to teach. Whether or not, at a similar conference
200 years down the line at Yad Vashem, will it be the same
or it might be in term… Will the Holocaust as it’s taught now
be like the Hurban Beit Ha’Mikdash where it still maintains its central role, or it will be more of a Tach V’Tat
type of phenomenon, or the Crusades, which is very important
but your average kid on the street, minus what he learns
in his Jewish history class, may or may not know so much about it, and that’s a question down the line, but currently, I think whatever
the variety of reasons that come out that it’s extremely important to teach,
to know, and to learn from. I totally appreciate the fact that
of some of the things seem contradictory. As a matter of fact, I was speaking
to a colleague of mine, and I said, “If we take everything that we’ve heard
or from every different scholar, “every different professor, and actually
try and distill to come up with a Shitah Achat, “there’s only one thing…
we’ll have a very narrow approach.” Because things seem contradictory
to some extent, which is part of the beauty, and our job is to find that synthesis,
and that is the challenge, and I think there are contradictions, the same way
every day in our own lives as parents or as teachers, we’re going to take and assume
contradictory approaches, and that has to be worked out. Sometimes we feel like
the rabbi in Fiddler on The Roof. “You’re right, you’re right.”
And they both can’t be right. “And you’re also right.” And sometimes, we find that resolution. And also, I think Rabbi Fleigman, although he took some issue with
being Or LaGoyim, I think in fact, the difference of opinion
may be one of emphasis, focus, all sorts of reasons,
but in fact, I think, and which is why I’m addressing it, we need to have the takeaway
that we actually both agree that the meta-goal is to be
“Or” to somebody… Wherever you want to make that
focus, it’s something beyond. Now again, and I don’t think we disagree. I certainly agree that the kids
and your primary focus is to be good role models to themselves, find the Hakadosh Barch Hu,
and be Bnei, Bnot Torah, And I don’t think Rabbi Fleigman
would disagree with me, that there is some level
of being an “Or La’Goyim” and being good to the world
and having a universal thing and being Mekadesh Shem Shamayim, so I would argue that our difference
is one of emphasis, but still, that there’s this meta-goal
of Holocaust studies using the experience and using
the study of Zionism as well to achieve something above and beyond and that making the world a better place and our doing our part to do that. And again, whether the initial
emphasis is on ourselves, or looking more broadly and distant is a separate discussion. Just to add something that in
every trip that we have to Poland, we always in Poland meet with a person who got a prize from Yad Vashem
as a righteous gentile. “Chasidei Umot Olam”. And in think Holocaust education
it’s essential to tell that story and the story of people, not Jewish, who absolutely risked
their lives and their families. I always ask myself, “Would I do this? For a total stranger?” And they did it, and our
students have to know about it. We don’t have much more time, and I want to leave time for the participants
to be able to bring your questions. I want to ask one more
question to all of you. I want… I would like to ask
if following this conference, you’re taking back with you something that you would like to consider, or to do in a different way in the future in your schools or in your systems. So Rabbi Kennard. Because you raised a big question.
-Oh, okay. I’ve certainly benefited from talking
to other educators, and heard a little bit about
what they’re doing in their schools, and from the keynote speakers,
I think I’ve picked up ideas, notions, and from this session in particular, I picked up ideas
about how to frame things. As my question earlier made clear, I’m very interested in what messages
we’re giving to our students and how we’re giving those messages, and how we are, of course, always leaving it up to the students
to make up their own minds, but what directions
we are opening for them. So I think as a result of some
of the things I’ve heard today, I will be trying to focus
our Holocaust education in a way that achieves
particular messages. Well, I don’t know yet. I have to think. I have to see. Okay. I’m gonna seek to develop a program
that allows for differentiated learning where students can take
what our content is, related to Holocaust, and have them show us that they’ve gotten
some messages in a variety of products. Yeah, it’s okay, David.
-I did not participate in the conference, just this panel, which I learned some
interesting things from my colleagues, but at the risk of incurring
the wrath of the moderator, I’d say that question,
we should ask the participants. One of the things I’m going
to take back is, whether our Holocaust studies
or really any program, is we have to be courageous enough
to ask ourselves lots of questions. What we’re trying to gain
and why’re we doing it? Is it the most productive way? And hearing all the
many different speakers, we need to ask ourselves questions. We need to develop a
greater sense of humility to know that what we’re doing, and especially when I’m in a school
like Yeshivah of Flatbush, which is described as an aircraft carrier, we’ve got to ask those questions, and to that end, I think the most
enjoyable part of this conference, for me personally, and I think most of us
who are principals, heads of school, we spend the better part of our days
doing all the talking, and running programs and leading, and I just enjoyed tremendously
listening to people. Agree or disagree,
but I know my own ideas. I can’t grow and learn from my own ideas, but hearing other people’s perspectives
and hearing other… Whether it’s colleagues
or the professionals and the scholars who were speaking, was a wonderful experience, and learn
to listen and learn to ask questions. Thank you. We would like to open the time
for questions from the participants so is Doctor Neil Rubin. Yeah. Hi.
-Please. I’m from Baltimore. And the question…
Oh, I’m sorry. Hi, I’m from Baltimore.
The question I get most, and I assume you do, too, is: “Was the state of Israel kind of something
that happened because of the Shoah?” It’s this very convenient Phoenix rising
from the ashes type of mythology. I want to share very briefly my answer
and see how you guys deal with it, and see how you
feel about that concept. I tell the kids… First of all, it’s impossible
to know what would have been. But the Zionist movement started
in the modern sense in 1882, and what the Holocaust did
was that it wiped out kind of the bread basket of Zionist activity
as well as traditionalism, and we don’t know what Rav Kook-ism
might have done, but I’m extremely uncomfortable with saying
that the Shoah created the state of Israel. And that’s very, very
simplified, obviously, so I’d like to know how you guys
deal with that issue because it’s one that’s probably
the most consistent one I get. So we have to ask Professor Bauer
to deliver his session about it because Professor Bauer used to speak in many
teacher conferences about this topic, and he made it very clear
from historical perspective that the state of Israel was not
established because of the Holocaust rather in spite of the Holocaust. And there were different other reasons that brought the world actually
to accept a Jewish state. But how do you deal with that? Oddly enough, by us, that type of questionú I think,
used to come up more often in the past. It really doesn’t come up
that much anymore, the students… Yeah, I can’t necessarily
explain why, but it doesn’t come up all too often, but we would steer away from that,
again, coming as a historian, historicalization is
very, very complicated, and you have all sorts of dangers
’cause then, was it worth the price? And so on and so forth. So to avoid it and sometimes referring
back to the Gemara that says… We can’t understand
HaKadosh Baruch Hu, but try the best we can to understand the… How the things happened
on their own terms. I agree with you…
-David? -Yeah? You teach in an Israeli school,
and in Israel, it’s also part of some politics because
that’s part of narrative of the Palestinians, so what do you hear from your students, and how do you deal with
that in your school? Yeah well that’s actually what
I want to address, not so much… I’ve rarely heard it from my students, but it might come up
more in a history class, but I think President Obama
angered a lot of Israelis in his speech in Cairo
about eight years ago, when he talked about Israel solely
as a response to the Holocaust, and not because of the people
coming back to their ancient land that they’d been exiled
from for 2,000 years. I think it’s very important to make
that distinction to our students, have our students aware that
it’s very dangerous and also false to talk about Israel only
as a response to the Holocaust or Zionism only as
a response to antisemitism. There’re very, very deep wells of Jewish
meaning even for a person like Hertzel, if you read his writings carefully. And our students should
be sensitive to that and be able to correct people
who make that mistake of seeing Israel only
as a response to the Holocaust. Rarely. Rabbi Levi. We had a teacher who celebrated
that question in the following manner: He told the students that that question
of probing why is a great question, and that’s why Fox News and CNN are so good at what they do, and journalists are trained
to get to the root of the matter. We know… I think you mentioned this. In our Jewish tradition,
having the question is fine. Not having the answer is also fine. If you’ll notice, Radio Shack said, “We have all the answers”,
and they’re in Chapter 11. Okay. Rabbi Kennard. Yeah, I’d just like to say that
it’s not a question we get very often. I think it is a very important question principally because
of the political aspect, and I think it’s part of the ongoing
and unfortunately tragically ever-growing plans to delegitimize Israel. Very briefly, the story as Israel
was only a response to the Holocaust, and it’s not fair on the Palestinians, that they should pay the price
for what happened in Europe. If it does come up,
the answer is an emphatic, “No.” Historically, it’s easy
to prove, as you said, the Zionist movement
started a long time before, and in particular the Balfour Declaration and the Ceremony Agreement
were 20, 30 years beforehand. So there was already
an inevitable path to stay to it. It may have come at a slightly different time,
and I think that’s very important to say. That’s from the historical perspective. From the Jewish perspective, it’s our return to
“le’Shana habaa be’Yerushalayim” we’ve been saying for
the last 2,000 years, that was also our inevitable trajectory, which we were definitely
going to arrive at, at some stage. So from those two aspects and many others, I think it’s very easy to say
that that premise is false, but in answer to your original question, we don’t get it so often. It comes up in discussion. Can we just ask the group if they get it? Beause I an educator get it
all the time. This question. Let’s keep it with
the panelists because… The Israel Center has an excellent… Workshop and education on how that
is a total fallacy and really documents… It explains how the state of Israel
was in the works way before 1945. -Need no translation? She can not translate because
she’s not speaking into a microphone. You need to… Everyone who has question
will have to come forward so the questions and the comments
will be made to the microphone, so they can simultaneous
translation, okay? I want to give the opportunity
to others to ask their questions. My question is to Rabbi Kennard. Sorry. I don’t necessarily see… What do you want me to do? -Where are you from?
-Introduce yourself. Oh, I’m Shula. I’m from Perth. Was from Melbourne. I don’t necessarily see
a contradiction between teaching a universal message and teaching the message
that Jews still need to go on, because you can’t teach children
not to be racist if there aren’t races. You have to have difference in
the world in order to teach tolerance. What I’m questioning is with the universal
message that comes from the Holocaust… I feel sometimes that Judaism has been
hijacked by the Tkkun Oam movement, and students and young people
feel that they can be Jewish just by doing Tikkun Olam, which
makes them actually not very Jewish ’cause they can be,
“Everybody should do Tikkun Olam.” So how do you reconcile the Tikkun Olam
message of the Holocaust to make it a Jewish message,
not just a universal one? Well, the issue you’re grappling with
is precisely the one I’m grappling with, and I don’t have the answer. So I think listening
to my colleagues here, it may be more of an
Australian issue than elsewhere, because in Australia…
-It’s also very American. Okay. The Holocaust is very embedded
there are so many survivors, but also there’s a very strong
secular Jewish element, perhaps that came from east
Europe with the survivors, and there’s a very strong move
amongst various generations to create a Judaism
which does not rely on religion. I think we’re seeing more
of that in Australia, and that’s for another discussion. The best I’ve got as an answer
to that question, is that we have to teach
both messages and both messages clearly. And really the reason I asked the question
about how we reconcile the two is because I think one
is in danger of eclipsing the other. The two messages I’m referring to
is the tolerance, antiracism, humanity and at the same time,
the survival of the Jewish people. And I think the best way to deal with this
Gordian Knot is just to cut it and say, “We’re gonna teach them both, and we’re gonna teach them both
loudly and clearly and proudly.” It concerns me when kids go
on trips to Poland organized with more
of a secular focus, that they come back,
and I ask them every time, “What did you learn?
How did it change you?” And I get answers about
the antiracism message. I get answers about the humanity message. I don’t get answers about
the “I’m committed to building “the future of the Jewish people” message. And that’s really what’s been on my mind and the issues I’ve
raised on this very panel. And I think the answer is
we have to be unashamed, and we have to be proud,
and we have to say, that a message from the Holocaust is that we have to continue
to build the Jewish people, not for that’s the only reason
for staying Jewish and building Jewish life
and building Jewish lives, and at the same time,
with no contradiction, with no dichotomy, we also have to teach
tolerance and antiracism and humanity. I understand that there’s no contradiction
in to say our students are elite, How can you make this message
also the Jewish message? And you’re saying don’t. Well, one of the things we heard today
was those universal messages are, of course, inherently Jewish messages. They are, but the way in which
they’re being used in our world as… secularism and the Judaism in that
it’s not really a Jewish message. It’s just universal. So we have to show
that it’s a Jewish message, although it happens to be
one shared by everybody else. Yes? I think the challenge…
-We’ll carry on this local conversation. I think that what is clear,
that the challenge is to make the universal message
as part of Jewish message, and I think that what they said earlier
this morning by Professor Cotler, he said, “Tzedek zdek tirdoff”,
it’s part of Jewish messages, and it has universal aspects. Next question? All the panel… My name is Sari Granitza,
I’m Shaya’s Deputy working at Yad Vashem. I’m the Deputy Director
of the International department. All the panelists are Orthodox Jews. And men. Putting that aside,
which bothered me when I came in, but we’ll talk about that later, but you’re Orthodox. Passing the message tp Orthodox people, who rely on our origins like “beshanah
habaah be’Yerushalayim ha’bnuyah”, etc., all the things that you mentioned here, is different than what… Most of the Jews abroad are
in diaspora, are not Orthodox. What… So I don’t know if you’re
the people to ask the questions, but you’re here, so maybe you know
’cause you talk with your colleagues. How do you teach Zionism,
connection to Israel, to Zionism, to Judaism, to the Shoah if you’re not…
Without the religious or Jewish origins? So like, there’s a problem here, and that’s why we hear
so much about the assimilation. 72 percent of the Jews
in the United States… There’s intermarriage, etc., so what do you think is being done with the people
who are not much affiliated with their religious part of the Judaism? Before I try to respond, I just want to clarify the question. You’re asking what schools that have
a student population that are not Orthodox, how they’re addressing these issues? -Reform schools
-Right. Even Sunday schools, or you know. Whatever.
-Right. I can only answer from
my experience in New York. And some of the schools that we work with, which are either not religious or… Schools that I’ve gone to speak at
that are not Jewish at all in terms of how they’re handling it. With the resources that they’re trying
to get in and how they’re trying to… You know, again,
I think a lot of it is on a… Based in the New York area, trying to deal with the basic messages,
the basic building blocks. In terms of the actual… In a lot of… For example, I spoke
recently at York Prep, which is one of the most prestigious non-Jewish
preparatory schools in New York City. I was invited by the headmaster to speak… There happened to be some Jewish students
because they happened to be Jewish, but they’re Asian and African-American. I spoke to the senior class, 71 students, on ethics and… It was for an Ethics class
on the role of faith. And the questions that
students were asking, the Jewish students and the
non-Jewish students were asking, were much more on the level of
basic knowledge of history, their basic building blocks,
basic geography. All the basic things
that were just not known. And that would be a starting point. There happens to be, again,
in the New York area, sometimes less known, more known. There happens to be communication between
schools’ sharing of programs and things like that. But it’s a major challenge. Rabbi Kennard, I think your school, as you said, it’s not… At least the participants, the students are not
all coming from a religious background, so how do you see it? How do we preserve Jewish continuity
without the Jewish religion? I don’t know. And I think it’s interesting that we’ve spent
two days talking about Jewish identity without really nailing what it is. We’ve been told several times… I’ve got two minutes to go, so I’ll say what I really want to think, and then I’ll head for the airport and head into international airspace. We’ve spent two days talking
about Jewish identity in the Shoah. I don’t think we’ve come any close
to understanding what Jewish identity is. We’ve been told several times
that it’s complex, and it’s diverse, and it’s diverse, and it’s complex. And to be honest, I think because
we’re afraid of the obvious answer. We’re afraid of the obvious answer to the question of how best
to preserve the Jewish people, how best to ensure Jewish continuity. I think some people in our
Jewish world work very, very hard to find an answer
which is not the obvious one, and to my mind, there isn’t. At least let’s just say,
there isn’t a very good one. There is one.
-There is one. There is one. There is not a very good alternative. Unfortunately, we have to
close this session very close. So one more. You asked for, please. Hi. Thank you. My que… Start with actually a comment, a response
to Rabbi Kennard’s question about the “for”. What is the positive? That hasn’t been really addressed at all, which is the value of a sense of belonging that we have a responsibility
to instill in all Jewish youth, whether they’re in a Jewish school or whether they are
active in a youth movement and go to a public school
because yes, today, so many Jewish parents can’t afford a proper formal Jewish
education for their kids. But that sense of belonging is something that even the groups
that I take to Eastern Europe as well, and the groups that I speak to, many of whom are Mizrachi Jews
or Sephardi Jews, and they have no personal connection. What binds them is the positive messaging of this is something
that happened to our nation. And I think that that is a very
positive message that does… Why are we teaching about the Holocaust? Because we have to continue
to encourage that we have a connection with each of these historical events and the people who experienced them. I would also like to say… I guess, should I not ask a
question ’cause we don’t have… Time for the answers.
-No. We don’t have enough time. So… I would only say… One sentence, Ilana. Okay. So never mind. Just one comment
because we have to finish. No. We all want to stay, but it’s very… I get the message that we are late.
-Well thank you everybody for your comments. And good luck, and I just think
that have a woman next time. Ilana?
-Yes? We shall make sure that next time,
you’d be a panelist. I regret of the no women
on this panel unfortunately. I just want to thank
the panelists for their time. I would have said much more because
I am asking myself those questions daily. And as I’ve said, my interest in
Holocaust education and in Yad Vasem, all came from the year
that I spent in Mount Scopus College, because I realized that
Holocaust education has a great influence on our youth’s Jewish identity, and I do hope with some of you to be able
to share some of my thoughts in the future, so thank you, everyone. Happy Hanukah.
Rosh Chodesh Tov. Tonight, it’s a new month,
so Rosh Chodesh Tov, Shabbat Shalom,
and safe trip home for everyone.

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