The Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum, which is located in the Western Galilee, has begun in recent months to conduct tours specially planned to interest hareidi-religious schools across Israel.
The museum’s director, Rami Hochman, told Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew website that this is the first collaboration of its kind and that it came into being after many talks with the hareidi leadership in Israel.
“The museum was established in 1949 on the sixth anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising,” he said. “It was the first museum that dealt solely with the Holocaust and when it was established by survivors it was clear that it was not meant to be a monument, but rather a framework designed for the education of our future generations.”
Hochman noted that the heads of the museum were surprised to learn that the hareidi public tends not to visit Holocaust museums.
“We tried during the past year to see who is the target audience that comes to the museum,” he said. “To our surprise, we discovered that the hareidi population does not come at all and this fact surprised us especially since hareidi schools make up thirty percent of all schools in the country.”
The Holocaust is an integral part of most hareidi education, which has its own literature and memoirs on the period. In fact, a well-known, academic Department of Holocaust Studies functions in the Jerusalem College for Women (Michlala), geared to the hareidi and religious Zionist population, with ongoing research on hareidi communities and personae before and during the Holocaust, media productions, lectures, seminars and conferences.
The museum decided to take action and made contact with the hareidi leadership. This paved the way towards formulating tours of the museum which were specially designed for hareidi students.
“I got in touch with former Deputy Education Minister Rabbi Porush and with the director of the Ma'ayan HaChinuch HaTorani [an education network in Israel founded by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef for the purpose of providing a religious education to the Sephardi community. – ed.],” recalled Hochman. “The rabbis came to visit the museum and they were very impressed. They even gave us materials and testimonies of Holocaust survivors.”
Hochman noted that the tours for the hareidi students are conducted in a similar format as those for non-religious schools, but that there is a full separation between men and women. “Of course [the hareidi tours] have aspects of the Holocaust which they emphasize, but overall there are no differences. The tours are conducted while males and females are separated. The girls have a female guide and the boys have a male guide.”
He spoke of the great excitement during the first tour. “The first group that took the tour was a group of girls from Migdal Haemek,” he recalled. “The tour was fascinating and I actually shed tears. Their responses were also very exciting and the cooperation was amazing.”