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"It's an event that has significance for anyone who is concerned with the potential for human evil and violence. It was a Jewish issues as well as a human issue." Dr. Irven Resnick

Learning from the Holocaust

Teachers from Tennessee and Georgia will have the opportunity to learn about teaching the Holocaust at a three-day conference hosted by UTC next month.

"Learning from the Holocaust" will be held at UTC March 7-10 for middle and secondary school teachers. "A series of free lectures will also be open to the public during the conference," said Dr. Irven Resnick, conference director. As part of the conference, the Hunter Museum of Art will exhibit "Eyes from the Ashes," a collection of personal photographs carried by Jews as they were deported to Auschwitz, Feb. 21-March 29.

Dr. Resnick, holder of the chair of excellence in Judaic Studies at UTC, says the conference was created to give teachers the tools necessary to teach students about the Holocaust and incorporate it into their curriculum. In addition to lectures, teachers will attend workshops led by the educational staff of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.

By attending the conference, Dr. Resnick believes teachers will take more than curriculum ideas back to the classroom. "There is a prevailing sense that educational institutions have failed to combat the impact that racism and ethnic and religious hatreds have on a culture. Educators may not be able to eliminate these hatreds, but they can diminish their force," he said.

A unique aspect of the conference is the participation of UT-Knoxville's Center for Literacy Studies. The center will conduct a day-long "Lessons for the Holocaust" workshop for adult education practitioners. "Adults who are enrolled in adult basic education programs often lack knowledge of Holocaust events, yet they often face issues of discrimination, violence, and hatred in their own lives and communities," said Lisa White-Smith, Director of the Center for Literacy Studies.

Although Holocaust conferences are not unusual, the quality of presenters and speakers scheduled for this event are exceptional. Poet, playwright and Holocaust survivor Yaffa Eliach will address the conference Sunday, March 8, at 7:45-9 p.m., on "Goodness vs. Evil: The Holocaust as a Blueprint for Genocide."

Eliach was four and living in Ejsyszki, a Polish shtetl, when German death squads marched through and gunned down all but 29 of the more than 3,500 Jews living there.

Today she is professor of history and literature in the department of Judaic Studies at Brooklyn College, the founder and volunteer director of the Center for Holocaust Studies in New York City, and the author of numerous articles and books.

As a memorial to the villagers of Ejsyszki, Eliach created the "Tower of Life" at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. Every inch of the three-story tower is covered with photographs of Ejszyski citizens before the massacre. "I wanted a memorial of dynamic, creative, living Jews &emdash;the community&emdash;to show what it was all before, what was lost, what was destroyed," Dr. Eliach said, "because I feel people don't relate to victims. They always say, 'them.'"

Others participating in the conference are Beverly Asbury, university chaplain (emeritus) at Vanderbilt University and the volunteer chair of the Tennessee Holocaust Commission; Michael Berenbaum, CEO and president of the Shoah Visual History Foundation; Daniel Patrick Brown, professor of history at Moorpark College; Christopher R. Browning, professor of history at Pacific Lutheran University; Wulf Kansteiner, assistant professor of history, UTC; Lawrence Langer, Alumnae Chair professor of English (emeritus) at Simmons Collge; Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory University; Warren Marcus, acting director of School and Adult programs in the education department of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.; and Dr. John Roth, the Russell K. Pitzer Professor of philosophy at Claremont McKenna College.

With the exception of dinner lectures and teacher training workshops, all presentations at UTC are free and open to the public and do not require advance registration. For more information call Dr. Resnick at 425-4446.

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 Last updated: February 10, 1998.
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