New Holocaust Curriculum Targets Kindergarten Students

The government plans to implement a new education program on the Holocaust in Israeli schools, for children from kindergarten up.

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Yosef Berger,

Holocaust memorial
Holocaust memorial
Flash 90

The government plans to implement a new education program on the Holocaust in Israeli schools, changing the focus of teaching the genocide that claimed the lives of six million Jews.

The new program will be implemented beginning with the coming school year, and will include content for older children, as well as for elementary school-aged children – including children in kindergartens.

Currently the Holocaust is not taught as a subject in lower elementary grades in Israel, although some teachers discuss acts of heroism or stories about individuals who lived through the Holocaust.

As is customary on Holocaust Memorial Day throughout Israel, children stand when the siren sounds, and are generally told that they are honoring the memory of their ancestors, without details on the deeper meaning of the siren.

The Education Ministry said that it has prepared a program, called “Memory is for Me,” that it believes will be acceptable to teachers and parents, which will gently introduce the concepts and events of the Holocaust without scaring or shocking children.

The Ministry said that the program had been developed with the full cooperation of psychologists and social workers, as well as with experts from Yad Vashem.

For kindergarten students, details of the tortures Jews faced in the Holocaust are not on the agenda, but the day and its meaning, along with a discussion on anti-Semitism, will be part of the curriculum. More details will be given in first and second grades, with stories of heroism and coping with the Holocaust to be discussed and analyzed.

In third and fourth grades, students will discuss the experience of families in the Holocaust – those who survived and those who didn't. In fifth and sixth grades, students will concentrate on the experiences of children who went through the Holocaust, while junior high school students will discuss issues of resistance.

A full high school curriculum discussing all aspects of the Holocaust has been prepared for high school students, the Ministry said. Many Israeli high school students participate in trips to concentration camps in Poland, where they learn about the Holocaust in depth and firsthand.