Tag Archives: Jewish Heritage Museum

Travel the World & More Remote Learning Opportunities From Your Couch

COVID-19 kept the majority of people home. Not only were schools, social events, sports all cancelled or moved online, many of people’s travel plans were postponed and or revoked. Whether visiting family in another state or looking to visit a famous landmark, so many of us have been homebound these past months.

I have found how a way to travel the globe without leaving my house. In fact, I have had the opportunity over the past four months to attend cooking classes, virtually walk the streets of London on a Harry Potter tour, participate in art and history lectures, and even listen to conversations with internationally acclaimed designers, writers, and health experts. I learned to make gnocchi with a chef in Italy and tagine cooking in Morocco. I made steak and frites and traveled to Brazil to watch a chef demonstrate classic Brazilian  cooking.

Indagare is a travel company and their mission is to inspire and empower people to change their lives through travel. When the pandemic hit this travel company created a global classroom hosting virtual travel and exploration for all.

This week our excursions include virtual adventures from Ancient Egypt and Rome to the worlds of Marie Antoinette and Harry Potter. My daughter and I travel virtually, as well as bake and taste our way around the globe starting with a  backyard safari, a beekeeping and baking class, pizza-making, painting and photography lessons, among other activities.

After participating in a Lecture with Q&A: Contemporary Black Art in America I was introduced to amazing artists, some who I already knew and others I was enamored to learn more about:

  • Kerry James Marshall
  • Sam Gilliam
  • Mark Bradford
  • Lorna Simpson
  • Nari Ward
  • Hank Willis Thomas
  • Rashid Johnson
  • Nick Cave
  • Mickalene Thomas
  • Kehinde Wiley
  • Fred Wilson
  • Simone Leigh
  • Toyin Ojih Odutola
  • Wole Lagunju
  • Devan Shimoyama
  • Grace Lynne Haynes
  • Njideka Akunyili Crosby
  • Tschabalala Self
  • Kara Walker
  • Julie Mehretu
  • Derrick Adams
  • Wangechi Mutu
  • Charles Gaines
  • Faith Ringgold
  • Betye Saar
  • Howardena Pindell

Wole Lagunju

There is a lot talk about learning loss during COVID-19 but that does not have to be the case. So many companies like Indagare are providing free content for the public. You can take virtual tours of many museums that still remain closed. Multiple museums are offering online lectures and Zoom conversations with authors, artists, and historians like The Jewish Heritage Museum in New York and the Gilder Lehrman Institute.

Many of the workshops provide follow up materials and web links for further interest. For example, I attended Understanding Anne Frank with Teresien da Silva, presented by the Museum of Jewish Heritage which provided a recording of the program on their YouTube channelAdditionally, a few resources that may be of interest were shared:
As well as some recommended reading:

If you are like me with an appetite for learning, travel, and enhancing your mind, body, and spirit there are so many valuable virtual experiences for everyone. If you are looking for more options, also consider:

Masterclass

Google Arts & Culture

King Arthur Baking’s “The Isolation Baking Show”

 

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Response to Social Injustice and Hate

The death of George Floyd is a tragic reminder that none of us should ever sit idly by and allow hate, discrimination, and violence to infect our society. As we have witnessed in the days since his death, people across our country are angry and frustrated.

The Jewish Heritage Museum in New York City shared the following, “In the words of Elie Wiesel: “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

James Basker, President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, shared the  words of Lancaster Hill, Peter Bess, Brister Slenser, Prince Hall, Jack Pierpont, Nero Funelo, Newport Sumner, and Job Look, African Americans appealing for equal rights during the Revolutionary War:

“…your Petitioners apprehend that they have, in common with all other Men, a natural and unalienable right to that freedom, which the great Parent of the Universe hath bestowed equally on all Mankind, & which they have never forfeited by any compact or agreement whatever—But they were unjustly dragged, by the cruel hand of Power, from their dearest friends, and some of them even torn from the embraces of their tender Parents—from a populous, pleasant and plentiful Country—& in Violation of the Laws of Nature & of Nation & in defiance of all the tender feelings of humanity, brought hither to be sold like Beasts of Burthen, & like them condemned to slavery for Life…In imitation of the laudable example of the good People of these States, your Petitioners have long & patiently waited the event of Petition after Petition by them presented to the Legislative Body of this State, & can not but with grief reflect that their success has been but too similar—They can not but express their astonishment, that it has never been considered, that every principle from which America has acted in the course of her unhappy difficulties with Great-Britain, pleads stronger than a thousand arguments in favor of your Petitioners…whereby they may be restored to the enjoyment of that freedom which is the natural right of all Men—& their Children…”

That plea is from 1777. It brings attention to the historical context of racism throughout American History. Protest and civil rights started way before the 1960s. Our students need to understand that.  Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi’s book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You is a powerful book that examines the history of racism from the very first racist to the hate speech and racist stereotypes that permeates social media today. It will be the Global Read Aloud this upcoming October and is a book that every teacher must read. Stamped is one of many young adult books that be a catalyst for conversations about race, history, and hate. NCTE provides resources for your classroom in teaching Stamped including “Qualities of Anti Racist Curricula,” book lists, and a recording of the webinar with Kendi and Reynolds discussing their book with NCTE members.

Lucy Caulkins and the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project wrote in a statement about the current climate in our nation how to embark in conversations with students. She quoted Legendary basketball player, author, and activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who said, “Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands.” Caulkins continued to write, “Your conversations with students, the language and lenses you provide, let the sun in, illuminating injustices and making it possible to work toward better days ahead.”

Black lives matter now, and have always mattered. I am committed to anti-racism, respect, and love of ALL. I will continue to fight illiteracy and do my part to make the world a better place.

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Holocaust Memorial Day: Why It Matters

Our child and students are the “last link” to Holocaust survivors. Many survivors are in their mid to late 80s. They will not live forever, but their stories will.

Technology has allowed us to capture the stories and testimony. The Jewish Heritage Museum in New York City has introduced virtual reality and virtual conversations with Holocaust survivor testimony. Dimensions in Testimony allows visitors to experience a “virtual conversation” with Pinchas Gutter, a survivor of six Nazi concentration camps. When you ask questions, Pinchas—in the form of a pre-recorded projection—provides answers in real time.

To create this experience Pinchas answered approximately 1,500 questions for the creation of Dimensions in Testimony. Your unique questions prompt his recorded responses—made possible by specialized recording and display technologies and next-generation natural language processing. As the JHM states on its website, “Dimensions in Testimony ensures that future generations will still be able to speak with and learn from survivors.”

The current Auschwitz: Not Long Ago. Not Far Away “exhibit brings together more than 700 original objects and 400 photographs from over 20 institutions and museums around the world. Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. is the most comprehensive exhibition dedicated to the history of Auschwitz and its role in the Holocaust ever presented in North America, and an unparalleled opportunity to confront the singular face of human evil—one that arose not long ago and not far away.”

In conjunction with the exhibit, there is a virtual reality experience for visitors. The Last Goodbye is a 20-minute immersive virtual reality testimony experience produced by USC Shoah Foundation. It represents unprecedented advances in storytelling through technology. During the VR experience Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter tours the Majdanek concentration camp where his parents and twin sister were murdered during World War II. As Pinchas recounts his experiences, you walk alongside him—seeing what he sees, hearing what he hears, and learning as he guides you through an account of his own history.

Why Remember?

The entranceway to the Museum’s Core Exhibition has two biblical quotations carved into its granite walls: “Remember . . . Never forget,” [Deuteronomy 25:17, 19] and “There is hope for your future” [Jeremiah 31:16].

• What should we remember, and why?

• On what should humanity as a whole base its hope for the future?

• On what do you base your hope for the future?

 

Last week there was an opportunity for my students to hear two survivors. Henry Brecher was six years old in Graz, Austria in 1938. On March 12, 1938, German troops marched into Austria to annex the German-speaking nation for the Third Reich. In early 1938, Austrian Nazis conspired to seize the Austrian government by force and unite their nation with Nazi Germany. As a result, Henry’s parents decided to send him to live with cousins in Croatia and for six years he was sent off to live with friends and family while his parents and grandparents stayed back and were later killed in concentration camps. At the age of twelve, Henry was sent to a refugee camp in Oswego, New York. Imagine your parents sending you to a foreign place with relatives you know little about.

Marion Blumenthal Lazan was speaking in our community for Yom HaShoah Commemoration. Following Hitler’s rise to power, the Blumenthal family  were trapped in Nazi Germany. They managed eventually to get to Holland, but soon thereafter it was occupied by the Nazis. For the next six and a half years the Blumenthal’s were forced to live in refugee, transit, and prison camps that included Westerbork in Hollan and the notorious Bergen-Belsen in Germany. Though they all survived the camps, Marion’s father succumbed to typhus just after liberation. It took three more years of struggle and waiting before Marion, her brother and moth obtained the necessary papers and boarded ship for United States.

Racism and bigotry continue today. These survivors speak to students because they know that today’s generation will be the last to hear first hand accounts of the dark time in our history. If you do not have access to a survivor you might ask students to read a Holocaust memoir.

Biography, Memoirs, and Diaries

Auerbacher, Inge. I Am a Star: Child of the Holocaust. New York: Puffin Books, 1993.

Drucker, Olga Levy. Kindertransport. New York: Henry Holt, 1995.

Fluek, Toby Knobel. Memories of My Life in a Polish Village 1930-1949. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.

 

Frank, Anne. The Diary of Anne Frank: The Revised Critical Edition. New York: Doubleday and Company, 2003.

Frister, Roman. The Cap: The Price of a Life. New York: Grove Press, 2000.

Grossman, Mendel. My Secret Camera: Life in the Lodz Ghetto. London: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2008.

Heller, Fanya Gottesfeld. Love in a World of Sorrow: A Teenage Girl’s Holocaust Memoirs. New York: Devorah Publishing, 2005.

Levi, Primo. Survival in Auschwitz. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013.

Michel, Ernest W. Promises Kept: One Man’s Journey Against Terrible Odds. New York: Barricade, 2008.

Neimark, Anne E. One Man’s Valor: Leo Baeck and the Holocaust. New York: Dutton, 1986.

Spiegelman, Art. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. London: Penguin Books, 2003.

Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006.

Zapruder, Alexandra (ed.). Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004.

Zeller, Frederic. When Time Ran Out: Coming of Age in the Third Reich. New York: Permanent Press, 1989.

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