For the first time, over 200 Jewish day-school principals, headmasters and senior Jewish Studies educators, from 34 countries and six continents around the world, will be gathering at the Yad Vashem International School for Holocaust Studies for a four-day conference, entitled "The Shoah and Jewish Identity: Challenges in Jewish Education." The international conference will be the largest and most prestigious gathering of leaders in Jewish education from Jewish day schools and informal Jewish education organizations worldwide. Throughout the course of the conference, leading experts from Yad Vashem will present its unique and cutting-edge pedagogical approaches relating to Holocaust education.
Over 40 leading experts in Holocaust commemoration, documentation and education will be presenting at the conference, including: Chairman of Yad Vashem Avner Shalev; Pedagogical Director of the International School for Holocaust Studies and Fred Hillman Chair of Holocaust Documentation Shulamit Imber; Director of the International Institute for Holocaust Research Dr. Iael Nidam Orvietto; and Director of the Yad Vashem Archives Division and Fred Hillman Chair for Holocaust Documentation Dr. Haim Gertner. Yad Vashem Academic Advisor and world-renowned Holocaust expert Prof. Yehuda Bauer will speak about the effects of the Shoah on Jewish communities in Europe before, during and immediately following the Shoah, illustrating how in some instances Jewish life and identity was preserved while in others it completely broke down.
There will also be a session dedicated to the memory of the late Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Laureate Prof. Elie Wiesel.
As the conference is taking place during the holiday of Hanukah, each evening a celebratory Hanukah candle-lighting ceremony will be held, using authentic Hanukiot (menorahs) that survived the Holocaust and are part of the Yad Vashem Artifacts Collections. World-renowned Holocaust survivor and Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau will light the Hanukah candles on the first evening of the conference, 26 December 2016.
The final day of the conference will feature leading Jewish students from various college campuses from around the world, discussing contemporary issues of antisemitism and the challenges faced in this volatile arena. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, will also be addressing the conference via video on this subject. Also speaking during this session on the topic of "Combating Antisemitism and the BDS Movement" is The Honorable Irwin Cotler, PC, OC, Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
During the closing session of the conference in memory of Izzy and Babs Asper, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky will light a special menorah together with descendants of Holocaust survivors.
Lily Safra Chair of Holocaust Education and Director of the International School for Holocaust Studies Dr. Eyal Kaminka reflected on the importance of this conference: "Yad Vashem is establishing the framework for educating future generations on the history of the Shoah and how it relates to our current Jewish identity. This is a challenge for all Jews around the globe, which is why it is so important that so many educators from Jewish day schools are coming together here, at the International School for Holocaust Studies, to be part of this discussion."
"Never before has there been as comprehensive a discussion of this type and at this level," explains conference organizer Ephraim Kaye, Director of the Jewish World and International Seminars Department at the International School for Holocaust Studies. "The goals of the conference are to explore how Jewish schools around the world are teaching the Shoah today, in what ways Yad Vashem can assist in the process, and the future of Holocaust Studies in the greater Jewish community."
The main plenary proceedings of the conference will take place in English with simultaneous translation in Spanish, French and Russian. The panel deliberations, roundtable discussions and workshops will be conducted in various languages, some also with simultaneous translation.
About the International School
Since the creation of the International School over 20 years ago, Yad Vashem has been leading the way in developing and disseminating tools to effectively educate the public about the history of the Holocaust. The International School conducts over 70 teacher-training seminars for educators from around the world every year, providing them with the necessary tools to teach the history of the Holocaust to their pupils. Among other topics to be presented at this conference are Jewish identity vis-à-vis the Holocaust, the challenges of modern-day antisemitism on campuses, and informal teaching methods, such as trips to Poland and community-based education.
The International Conference is made possible by the generous support of the Asper Foundation, the Adelson Family Foundation, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, the Genesis Philanthropy Group and the Israel Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.