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November 07, 1986 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-11-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Outreach

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IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR THE MERCEDES
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18

Friday, November 7, 1986

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

kept readable and under-
standable and the presenta-
tion "dynamic and varied" to
keep student interest.
The curriculum involves a
multi-media approach. Film,
photographs and graphics are
used in the presentation of
the documented historical
facts, along with videotaped
interviews with survivors.
The combination, explains
Bolkosky, makes the study
"not abstract, but a concrete
reality."
For example, after study-
ing an official memorandum,
students are shown "what a
few lines of euphemistic lan-
guage really meant, in prac-
tice, to individual humans"
as survivors recount their ex-
periences. The intimate, per-
sonal details recalled by the
survivors — by the woman
who describes her struggle to
breathe through the airless
stench of sweat and excre-
ment in a box car, or by an-
other woman weeping, not for
the atrocities perpetrated
against herself, but overcome
by guilt because she stole a
fellow prisoner's crust of
bread — bring home the
reality of the experience in a
uniquely powerful and per-
sonal way. On teenage stu-
dents the impact is particu-
larly strong, Bolkosky, adds,
because they are the same
age as the survivors were
during the Holocaust.
The survivors, all from the
Detroit area, were inter-
viewed by BolkAky, who also
did the interviews for over
100 of the survivor tapes in
the Holocaust Memorial Cen-
ter video archive. His skill as
an interviewer ("He is one of
the best," says Joanne
Rudoff, of the Yale Video
Archives, to which copies of
the curriculum tapes have
been donated) derives from
his deep involvement and
concern. "My life has been
enriched by Sid Bolkosky,"
declares Abe Pasternak. "He
knows 101 survivors inside
and out. We have confided in
him more than anyone else
because when nobody else
•cared he listened. And he has
gone on listening."
A "crude form" of the pro-
gram, without survivor tapes,
was piloted in five Oakland
County high schools last year
— Avondale, Oak Park,
Rochester Adams,
Southfield-Lathrup and Troy.
"The reaction was very
favorable," reports Dr. David
Harris, director of social
studies for Oakland Schools,
who has worked closely with
the author. "A few teachers
were worried that the inclu-
sion of the entire program
would take too much time.
The problem was how to in-
fuse enough depth without
disrupting the whole world
history course."
The solution has been to
schedule the ten classes in a
two-week period, with an
additional two weeks avail-
able for those teachers who

want them.
Harris acknowledges that
the quality of the teaching is /
crucial to the program's suc-
cess. If teachers are not com-
fortable with open discussion,
if they are not confident of
their own knowledge of the
historical background and
period, the scheme's full ef-
fectiveness could be jeopar-
dized, he says.
However, the program
facilitates confident teaching,
and provides teachers with
guidelines for discussion, in-
formation on the questions
most likely to arise and an
appendix with a guide to re-
sources available both na-
tionally and locally. Teachers
will also have a day of in-
service training and tour the
HMC before the thoroughly-
revised curriculum is im-
plemented.
The idea for the project
originated with Zelda Robin-
son, chairman of the Jewish
Community Council's
Holocaust subcommittee.
After an application for a
state grant was turned down
in 1985, funding for the pro-
gram's development and
production costs, which are
expected to total between
$75,000 and $100,000, was
made available through the
Center for the Study of the
Child, which is launching a
fundraising campaign for
community support. U.M.-
Dearborn has donated studio
time.
The curriculum can be re-
produced inexpensively and
made available to schools at
a moderate price. It is hoped
that it will have widespread
sales. "It's so dynamic, we
think many schools will want
to use it," says Robinson. Pro-
fit from sales will go into a
fund, supervised by an advi-
sory committee, to finance
further Holocaust education
and research.
Production is expected to
be completed by December,
none too soon for those in-
volved since they all share a
sense of urgency about the
need for Holocaust education.
The pilot studies confirmed a
general lack of knowledge on
the Holocaust and the period
surrounding it. One student
insisted that it was a hoax.
"There is a great need for
something to be done before
we miss the boat," says Dr.
Sidney Lutz, founder of the
Center for the Study of the
Child. He points to a recent
poll, that showed 49 percent
of Americans, both Jews and
non-Jews, thought that it was
time to "put the Holocuast
behind us and forget the
past."
"We tend to take for
granted that the history of
the Holocaust is settled. In
fact it's vulnerable to change
on many fronts," says Alvin
Rosenfeld, director of Judaic
studies at the University of
Indiana. "It has become so

1

Continued on Page 20

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