by Shoshana Gibbor, Senior IACT Coordinator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and 2015 Poland Trip Staff
Holocaust education must remain in a state of constant evolution. As generations grow up and new ones are born, as distance from the Holocaust increases, it is necessary to reform the methods in which its history is taught. As survivors die and the third generation slowly drifts out of the Holocaust’s shadow, education must be bolstered with an understanding of the applicable lessons and principles that may derive from the Holocaust.
I wholeheartedly believe that Holocaust education is crucial to the work that I aspire to do with students, through my role on campus as a Senior IACT & Director of Birthright & Israel Engagement. As an Informal Experiential Jewish Educator, it is my job to deliberately infuse [Jewish] Values into engaging and memorable experiences that impact the formation of [Jewish] Identities. Values are the subject matter. They are ideas and convictions that represent world views about worth and significance, and whose adoption can guide personal choices, behaviors, and practice.
The Holocaust provides one of the most effective subjects for examining basic moral issues. A comprehensive inquiry into this history yields critical lessons for an investigation into human behavior that are relevant to Jewish and Non-Jewish students alike. It also addresses one of the central mandates that college students are grappling with every day as emerging adults, which is to examine what it means to be a responsible citizen.
Together Restoring Their Names, allows students to engage in transformative experiences that allow them to gain insight into the many historical, social, religious, political, and economic factors that cumulatively resulted in the Holocaust. They gain awareness of the complexity of the subject and a perspective on how a convergence of factors can contribute to the disintegration of democratic values. Students come to understand that it is the responsibility of citizens in any society to learn to identify danger signals and to know when to react. Today more than ever, I feel a direct responsibility and calling to pursue this line of work and to educate and spread awareness to college students about the Holocaust. History must empower students with the understanding of various choices they must make and their ultimate impact on society.