On July 27 and 28, the Council for Holocaust Education of the Jewish Federation of Tulsa and The Sherwin Miller Museum welcomed 50 teachers from Oklahoma and Arkansas for the 2017 Eva K. Unterman Summer Institute for Holocaust Education. The two-day professional development experience focused on resistance in armed, spiritual, and cultural forms during the Holocaust, as well as Jewish culture and history in relation to the Shoah.
The first day, Dr. Jacob Howland of The University of Tulsa provided historical context for the Holocaust by giving teachers a thorough grounding in the background and overview of major events in Jewish history from antiquity through contemporary times. After Howland’s session, teachers participated in an in-depth, interactive timeline activity to use in their classrooms which allows students to make inferences about the inter-relatedness of time and geographic location to the events that took place, affecting both individuals and victim groups and better understand how the events of World War II and the Holocaust are intertwined.
To wrap up the morning session, teachers viewed the documentary, The Search for The White Rose by Peter Logue, a film about one student’s journey to learn more about the German resistance group. Logue’s film chronicled the modern impact The White Rose movement has had on young students in Germany today. After the film screening, teachers had an opportunity to video-conference with Logue and discuss how to use the film in their classes. During the lunch break, the teachers were entertained and educated by the Tulsa Klezmer Band, who shared the evolution of klezmer music in relation to Jewish history.
That afternoon, Dr. Kevin Simpson of John Brown University in Northwest Arkansas joined the group at The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art to present information from his research about the psychology of rescuers and resisters during the Shoah. He also lectured on information from his new book, Soccer under the Swastika, which relies on long-forgotten memoirs and testimonies to reveal the surprisingly powerful role soccer played during World War II. Using historical photographs from Simpson’s Soccer under the Swastika currently on display at The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art, teachers participated in a photo analysis activity looking at the “6 C’s of Primary Source Analysis”: content, context, citation, connections, communication, and conclusions, which can be applied in diverse classroom settings and applied to any historical photograph.
The second day of the Summer Institute opened with a presentation from Sara Levitt, Director of Jewish Life and Learning at Congregation B’nai Emunah, titled “Judaism 101.” In her hour session, Levitt provided information on the history, movements, symbols, holidays, and values of Judaism in the context of the Shoah. Following this session, teachers were able to choose two elective classes to attend. Class sessions included such offerings as: “’Like Sheep to Slaughter’: Artifacts of Jewish Resistance” by Cassie Nodine; “Yom HaShoah in Israel: 1948-Present” by Shaliach Yohai Gross; “Resistance through Music” by teacher Nancy Pettus; “Swing Kids: Bullying, Peer Pressure, and Teens During the Holocaust” by teacher Bob McCormac; and “How We Preserve History,” a behind-the-scenes look at the collections of The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art with preparator, Charles Taylor.
That afternoon, Jennifer Goss from the Anti-Defamation League’s Echoes and Reflections program presented “Connecting the Past with Today: Jewish Refugees and the Holocaust.” As the world struggles with the largest refugee crisis since WWII, Echoes & Reflections’ content can help examine the barriers to immigration and the unwillingness of the free world to accept refugees during the Holocaust. This timely offering supports educators to help students make meaningful connections to similar issues affecting people and nations today. Echoes and Reflections delivers value to both experienced Holocaust educators who are supplementing their curricula and for teachers new to Holocaust education.
The two-day conference was made possible by generous friends of Holocaust education and the support of the Council for Holocaust Education at the Jewish Federation of Tulsa and The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art.