Students Going to Europe to Study Meaning of Holocaust

On Saturday evening the American Association for Jewish Education will tender a farewell reception in the international Synagogue at JFK Airport for a group of students from Hampshire College (Amherst, Mass.) who are on their way to Europe for a six-week travel seminar in documentation centers and concentration camps. The seminar is an outgrowth of a course of study they have initiated called “Thinking About the Unthinkable: Encounter With the Holocaust.”

This is the first student initiated, college based educational project, dealing with the destruction of European Jewry in which both an institution of higher learning (Hampshire College) and a central agency for Jewish education (AAJE) have collaborated in aiding the students to carry out their plans.

“In an age of widespread disenchantment with the adult establishment and frequent alienation of youth from Jewish institutions in the community, it is heartwarming to note that young people find encouragement in the responsiveness of concerned individuals and agencies to their felt needs,” declared Dr. Sara Feinstein, director of the Department of Continuing Education and Jewish Studies, College-University Level of the AAJE. “Many disturbing elements for man in this century are to be found in the period of the Nazi Holocaust–and yet this lesson has been totally ignored in the education of young people today. It is for this reason that the Hampshire group has decided to pioneer in this educational endeavor.”

WILL SHARE STUDY WITH SCHOOLS

The seminar will take them to Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany and Holland, where they will meet with directors of documentation centers, professors and students engaged in the scholarly research of the Holocaust, and with community leaders. They will interview survivors and will make a film of their experiences. “The purpose of their trip is to literally encounter the Holocaust; augment the syllabus of the year-long course we have developed, and which over 100 schools and institutions have requested,” said Arthur Samuelson one of the student initiators of the course.

Officers and friends of the AAJE enabled the Hampshire students to spend all of last summer in preparation of the syllabus and helped students make contact with Jewish communities in Europe, Dr. Feinstein reported. The World Federation of Bergen-Belsen Survivors has made scholarships available to the students for the seminar.

With the aid of the AAJE Commission on Jewish Studies in Colleges and Universities, the students hope to share their course material upon their return with other institutions of higher learning, with secondary school social studies departments, with religious schools of different denominations and with adult education groups in the community.

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