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Artwork by artist Alfred Benjamin, with the permission of the family.
The StandWithUs Holocaust Education Center (HEC), headquartered in Los Angeles, brings interactive Holocaust education programs, films and curriculum to schools and communities across North America, through in-person and virtual platforms. The center’s custom-made, interdisciplinary programs are meant to proactively educate students about the Holocaust and also respond to instances of antisemitism experienced by students at specific schools or communities. The HEC works affirmatively to address the widespread deficiencies in information about the Holocaust, and also to counter the antisemitism connected with Holocaust denial and distortion.
Why StandWithUs Developed the Holocaust Education Center
According to recent studies and surveys, there is a shocking lack of information about the Holocaust. Alongside this lack of awareness, antisemitism is rising in the U.S. and around the world. Holocaust denial and distortion have, particularly during the last five years, been integrated into expressions of antisemitism, whether in cyberspace or within the walls of academia. Unfortunately, Holocaust denial and distortion are global in scope. It should be clear that the need for Holocaust education is urgent.
At schools and campuses throughout North America, swastikas have been casually painted on school property, while far too many Jewish students are afraid to identify as Jewish on campus. In dozens of schools, students have role-played the Holocaust and even mimicked “Heil Hitler” salutes. The Holocaust Education Center at StandWithUs seeks to help teens and young adults educate themselves about the consequences of hate and bullying, and the importance of learning from the murder of six million Jews during World War II.
At StandWithUs, we offer responses to incidents of Holocaust denial and swastika graffiti and have developed a comprehensive menu of preemptive, engaging, and user-friendly presentations for teachers. StandWithUs can deliver these presentations to schools during the academic year without requiring teachers to be trained in advance. We offer 23 interactive presentation options to engage students of diverse backgrounds and interests, including learning through classic PowerPoint, online and/or in-person presentations through photography, psychology, film, and/or art.
We welcome your questions and involvement.
Nilia@standwithus.com Associate Director
A World Without Eye-Witnesses
For decades, the Jewish community relied on survivors to give testimony and context to what took place during World War II. Data shows that awareness of the Holocaust is low among American youth. Additionally, Holocaust denial is proliferating online and elsewhere. In recent years, antisemitic incitement on the internet and social media has fueled attacks on Jews, including the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre of 2018. Some elected representatives are openly hostile toward Israel, spouting dangerous antisemitic conspiracy theories.
Compounding our challenges is the increase in antisemitism in American schools. These are just a few incidents from recent months:
In Alabama and Toronto, students greeted Jewish teachers with the “heil Hitler” salute
In Washington, DC, students were asked to roleplay the experience of Jewish death camp victims
In Texas, a school district administrator called for teachers to present opposing views on the Holocaust
In Tennessee, a school board banned Maus, an award-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust
CURATED PRESENTATION LIST
Hundreds of Jews were murdered or committed suicide in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, which took place on the night of November 9-10, 1938. More than 200 synagogues in Germany and Austria were totally destroyed that night, and thousands of Jewish homes and businesses were vandalized and looted. A significant portion of Germany's young Jewish men - some 20,000 people - were arrested and sent to concentration camps, where 3,000 of them were murdered.
Each of the seminars in this program menu represents an aspect of Kristallnacht as a prelude to the Holocaust when nations around the world remained indifferent as six million Jews were expelled from their homes and murdered.
Philadelphia Global Leadership Academic (Courtesy)
Pressman Academy Los Angeles (Courtesy)
In addition to our core presentations, schools and organizations have requested that the StandWithUs Holocaust Education Center create lesson plans based on their students’ backgrounds or district-wide educational pedagogies. Recent examples of StandWithUs partnering with schools to deliver innovative Holocaust education include:
An urban Philadelphia charter school, the Global Leadership Academy Middle School, invited the center to speak with 200 eighth graders. Our custom-made presentation began in Africa’s Namibia, where Germany carried out the twentieth century’s first genocide.
For Pressman Academy of Los Angeles, the center was asked to deliver one of our six core presentations, called “The True Believer: How Mass Movements Lead to Genocide.” The lesson, based on a book by sociologist Eric Hoffer, draws comparisons between regimes that have carried out genocides.
In New York, Great Neck North High School’s Jewish Student Union wanted to offer students innovative Holocaust education. Our center worked with staff to develop a presentation based on resistance and “upstanders” during the genocide, including acts of so-called “spiritual resistance.”
The StandWithUs Holocaust Education Center partnered with California’s Fullerton School District in January 2022 to implement lessons for International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Based on the district pedagogy of helping students look through windows to empathize with others, the Holocaust Center created a lesson called Windows into the Holocaust.
Fullerton School District in California (courtesy)
At StandWithUs Holocaust Education Center, we believe that educating about the Holocaust should be done through dialogue. Especially in lower grades, we welcome continuous discussion with students through their artistic responses to the learned subjects. The presentation below includes examples of these responses:
Our Unique E.M.P.A.T.H.Y. Approach
The StandWithUs Holocaust Education Center believes that empathy must be at the core of all efforts to perpetuate the memory of the genocide. Our unique E.M.P.A.T.H.Y. approach explains some of the methods we deploy:
Educate students to be upstanders when they see antisemitism or bigotry of any kind.
Modernize Holocaust education for a future without eye-witnesses.
Prepare activists who can identify potential massacres, or even genocides, before they take place.
Analyze the complexity of the Holocaust by exploring the range of experiences of Jews—and others—across Europe.
Transform students’ understanding of antisemitism by contextualizing the Holocaust within Jewish and global history.
Holistically offer more entry points into Shoah memory, including interdisciplinary approaches.
Youth-centered primary sources such as diaries, artwork, film, etc. that can help students empathize with victims, both then and now.
Meet Our Team
Director, StandWithUs Holocaust Education Center
Since 2012, Matt has been an exceptionally prolific writer on the Holocaust, having published more than 250 articles for The Times of Israel and other outlets. In addition to reporting from Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, and other countries, Matt has written about Holocaust “memory work” across Europe. A grandson of Holocaust survivors, Matt’s background includes teaching “Facing History and Ourselves” and staffing numerous service-learning trips for college students in Europe and Israel. In April 2021, Matt joined StandWithUs as founding director of the Holocaust Education Center.
Nili Alon Amit
Associate Director, StandWithUs Holocaust Education Center
During her years of study at Tel Aviv and Haifa Universities in humanities and arts, Nili assisted Professor Judith Buber Agassi in her research on Jewish women prisoners of the Nazi concentration camp Ravensbrück. Since receiving her PhD in ancient philosophy from Haifa University in 2013, Nili has been researching and teaching in Israeli teacher colleges, in Los Angeles as an Israel Institute Visiting Assistant Professor, and as Visiting Research Scholar at UCLA Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. Her ongoing research on the history of happiness culminated in her latest publication (2021). In June 2022, Nili joined the Holocaust Education Center as Associate Director, bringing new humanistic and pedagogical approaches to our growing community of learners.