Holocaust education suffers under recession budget cuts

warsawTens of thousands of teachers around the country teach the Holocaust to their students as a way of understanding not just the history of the Jewish people, but the plagues of racism, sexism, and homophobia, the dangers of group-think, propaganda and stereotypes, and the importance of standing up for what you believe in, regardless of the odds or the risks.

With the American economy suffering in this recession, those programs are being cut.

The USA Today tells the story of a middle school teacher in Tennessee whose students often had never even heard of the Holocaust before walking into her classroom. The Tennessee Commission on Holocaust Education, which funds her Holocaust curriculum, is in jeopardy because of budget cuts. While the federal stimulus package will temporarily cover the commission’s budget this year, the state’s annual budget no will longer include $128,300 for teachers around the state to integrate Holocaust studies into their curriculum.

Other states facing serious cuts to their Holocaust educational programming include New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, according to USA Today.

Here in the Twin Cities, there are three major outfits for Holocaust programming and education: the JCRC of Minnesota and the Dakotas, the University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and the Eiger-Zaidenweber Holocaust Resource Center. Your financial support (whether $10 or $100) and your volunteer time  can help to ensure that our local community does not face cutbacks on Holocaust educational programming even in these rough economic times.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas educates individuals and communities about the legacy of the Shoah (Holocaust) through their research center, visual history collection, speakers bureau,  teacher workshops, organized trips to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, annual Holocaust Essay Contest, Holocaust art gallery, annual Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration, and through an on-staff Holocaust educator. For more information, please contact Claire Buchwald at 612-338-7816 x285 or email her at [email protected]. Donate here to support the JCRC.

The University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies provides information and teaching about the Holocaust and contemporary aspects of genocide as defined by the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide (1948) as well as varying definitions by university scholars and researchers. The Center offers ‘teaching trunks’ for the Holocaust and the genocides in Armenia, Rwanda and Darfur to middle and high school teachers. The trunks contain full classroom sets of books; teachers’ guides and curriculum suggestions; films; visual aids; and other materials to support instruction. Check out the Center’s fall events or consider donating to support their critical programming.

The Talmud Torah of Minneapolis hosts the Eiger-Zaidenweber Holocaust Resource Center, which provides a multipurpose community space for teaching about and studying the Holocaust. To learn more, call Talmud Torah of Minneapolis at 952-381-3300.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)