This year the Jewish Heritage Month Committee of the TDSB acknowledges 75 years since liberation from the Holocaust.
Because of Liberation75 the Committee embarked on a comprehensive Holocaust and Genocide Education program which included many important programs, including:
During the Neuberger Centre’s Holocaust Education Week, we hosted Rainer Hoess, grandson of Rudolf Hoess, the infamous commander of Auschwitz visit who spoke to hundreds of students at Northern CI, Riverdale CI and Etobicoke CI “Be a voice; not an echo.”
In November we held a staff lunch and learn – an interview with Max Eisen, Holocaust survivor and author or ByChance Alone, winner of Canada Reads.
We partnered with the Azrieli Foundation in offering a novel study/social studies exercise as part of our efforts for Grade 6 or 7 students. Fourteen schools read Claire Baum’s memoir The Hidden Package, provided free of charge in French and English with classroom activities to accompany both books.
On January 27, 2020 – Holocaust Remembrance Day - we held a special TDSB One Book Event. In partnership with Indigo and Second Story Press, all Grade 6 students (more than 18,000) throughout the TDSB received their own copy of Hana’s Suitcase. On January 27, a special webcast featuring Heather Reisman and Lara Hana Brady (niece of Hana) was the largest audience we’ve ever had at TDSB with 965 computers clicking in – which means thousands of students and teachers watched. The incredibly positive feedback and learning continues in classrooms. Author Karen Levine has also produced a video specifically for our TDSB students.
In February we launched “The Last Goodbye” – virtual reality experience – a VR short featuring Toronto-based Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter on his return to Majdanek concentration camp. “The Last Goodbye”, in association with Steven Spielberg’s L.A.-based Shoah Foundation and in conjunction with the TDSB’s participation in Liberation75, was housed at Oakwood CI. It also included an art installation on Genocides throughout history. This exciting project involved bringing thousands of Grade 10’s (and some Grade 11’s – students of our genocide course) on field trips from all our schools across the District to participate in the experience. TDSB is the first school board in the world to premiere the virtual reality film and all licensing fees were waived. Participating teachers received a pre and post lesson and all students were provided with a copy of Pinchas Gutter’s memoir – a generous donation by the Azrieli Foundation. We are currently working on bringing as much of the experience as possible on-line.
Please check out our website where we house resources for Holocaust and Genocide Education. We continually update the website as we learn of new resources teachers can use. Our committee looks forward to continuing our work “Encouraging Students to Investigate and Understand the Past to Think Critically about the Present and Future”.