This week the Central School for Holocaust Instruction at Yad Vashem opened the largest teachers' conference ever held in Israel on the Holocaust and Holocaust instruction. Nine hundred teachers from around the country are taking part in the "From Calamity to Continuity" conference, which was opened by Education Minister Gidon Saar.
During the three-day event, Dr. Arik Cohen of the School of Education at Bar-Ilan University is presenting a study commissioned by the Claims Conference that examined on an unprecedented scope the state of Holocaust education in Israel's middle schools and high schools.
A number of interesting findings emerged from the two-year study, which included 2,540 students, 519 teachers and 307 principals. The Holocaust was found to be a central topic in the government school system and is perceived to be relevant to students from various backgrounds and residing in various parts of the country.
Eighty percent of the students said the Holocaust history they study in class is relevant to their lives while 76 percent of students and 96 percent of teachers said it affects their world view. Eighty-five percent of teachers view the Holocaust as a calamity for all of humanity, not just the Jewish people. Participating in heritage journeys to Poland increased the tendency to see the Holocaust as a tragedy for all of humanity (89 percent of trip participants felt it was, compared to 80 percent of those who had not taken part). Seventy-eight percent of middle school principals and 87 percent of teachers favored raising the number of hours devoted to Holocaust instruction.