“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.” Elie Wiesel

The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous Provides Fellowships for Holocaust Education

Wednesday, 01 July 2015 06:00 By Stephanie Goldman


Auschwitz survivor Roman Kent

The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) has selected 30 middle and high school teachers from eight U.S. states and Croatia, Hungary, and Poland, as 2015 Alfred Lerner Fellows to delve into the complex history of the Holocaust as well as learn new teaching techniques for introducing the subject of the Holocaust into their classrooms. The Summer Institute, an intensive five day course, was held at Columbia University from June 21st through June 25th.

The program is a high-level, intensive academic seminar in which participants are exposed to Holocaust survivors such as Roman Kent and to noted Holocaust scholars including: Volker Berghahn, Samuel Kassow, Doris Bergen, Henry Feingold, Michael Steinlauf, Jeffrey Burds and Robert Jan van Pelt. It is designed to allow participants to meet in small groups following each lecture, address the specific aspect of the Holocaust that was presented, share teaching concepts, and develop approaches to introducing the subject matter to their students.

Teachers selected for the program must be English or social studies teachers at the middle or high school level, have taught at least five years, are at least five years from retirement and currently teach the Holocaust in their classroom.

Participants each come from a region of the country where the JFR operates a Holocaust Centers of Excellence in conjunction with a local Holocaust museum or center. International educators were invited to join the seminar in 2001 at the request of the U.S. State Department.

“Unfortunately Holocaust education is not mandated in most states. It is important to provide educators with both the historiography of the Holocaust as well as the tools to help them introduce the subject to their students.” said JFR Executive Vice President Stanlee Stahl.

The Fellowship program is named in memory of Alfred Lerner, the founding chairman and chief executive officer of MBNA Corporation, who died in October of 2002. Lerner was a long-time advisor and supporter of JFR programs and activities. His deep commitment to the work of JFR and in particular to his special interest in the field of Holocaust education, led to the seminar being endowed in his name.

In conjunction with the Fellowship program, JFR awarded the 2015 Eduard Sonder Scholarship to Kelly Webeck of the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education Kansas City. Eduard Sonder, a Jewish German wine business owner, was killed during the Holocaust. Upon receiving payment from their grandfather’s life insurance policy, rather than keeping the funds, Kate Tarnofsky and Johanna Stark, sisters from West Orange, NJ, determined that it was best to continue Holocaust education teacher training by endowing a scholarship enabling a teacher to attend the JFR program at Columbia University.

“Kelly is one of our exceptional educators who has proven her outstanding commitment to teaching the Holocaust,” said JFR President Harvey Schulweis. “By participating in the Summer Institute, we are confident that she and all our Lerner Fellows will be able to enhance their classroom experience so that the next generation will be more responsive and moved by the lessons of this period in world history.”


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