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April 24, 1987 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-04-24

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

Glen Triest

A literature class
at Ferndale High
transmits important
Holocaust lessons

A well-thumbed volume of "Never 7b Forget."

Michelle Yezak and Dawn Elly prepare an assignment.

TEACHING liBlE111311A

SUSAN WEINGARDEN

Special To The Jewish News

For the students in Barbara
Demlow's fourth hour class at
Ferndale High School, Holocaust
Remembrance Day this Sunday oc-
curs every day of the 20-week
semester. In the course, The
Holocaust Through European Lit-
erature," the students spend the
first half of the semester studying
the history of the Holocaust before
examining the literature written
about it.
When Demlow presented the
idea for the class to the Ferndale
Board of Education in 1980, one of
the board members asked, "What
could you possibly teach for ten
weeks on the Holocaust?" But the
class was approved and has in-
creasingly grown in demand since
it began seven years ago.
"Things just kind of happened
by accident," she said. "I went to a
lecture at Mercy College presented
by Sister Carol Rittner, who is well

22

Friday, April 24, 1987 --

known in Holocaust education cir-
cles. Elie Wiesel and four other
speakers emphasized the impor-
tance of dealing with the Holocaust
and the importance of teaching it.
"I was overwhelmed by what I
heard. Then I met Carol, and after
talking with her I felt it was some-
thing I had to do: I guess I was ripe
for it."
Presented with a vast subject
area, Demlow took seminars and
workshops from Rittner, who is
now working with Nobel Prize
winner Wiesel at the U.S.
Holocaust Memorial Council in
Washington, D.C. She also took a
seminar from Dr. Sidney Bolkosky;
who teaches courses on the
Holocaust at the Univers,ity of
Michigan, Dearborn, and is work-
ing on a high school Holocaust cur-
riculum.
An English teacher, Demlow
incorporated Holocaust material
into her European literature class.
She spent an entire summer going
through material with Rittner and

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

said she is still going through it. "I
cannot keep up with all the litera-
ture being written about the
Holocaust," she said, "yet the world
history text we use has only three
lines about it.'i
Demlow feels a tremendous
sense of commitment. "Once you
become involved, you realize there
is nothing more important than
teaching about the Holocaust be-
cause there is nothing more impor-
tant than teaching students to be
humane. The Holocaust is the most
important vehicle with which to do
this."
Ferndale High School officials
estimate there are probably 50-100
Jewish students in the school. De-
mlow, who is Jewish, occasionally
has a Jewish student in her class,
but most of the students are non-
Jews. Why is there such a strong
interest in her class? "It is not a
tedious class," Demlow explained.
It deals with interesting facts. It is
never boring."
Demlow uses movies, such as

Paul Eberhardt ponders the lesson.

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