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Foundation gives grants to push Holocaust education to new level

ROME, July 5 (JTA) — The Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture is trying to keep the memory of the Holocaust at the forefront of Jewish thinking in the 21st century. The foundation’s board of trustees, meeting in Florence last week, announced grants for the coming year totaling more than $3.1 million to support Jewish cultural projects and to train Jewish scholars, educators and communal workers in 33 countries. The new Holocaust-education initiatives are aimed at being a “catalyst for renewal” to ensure that the memory and lessons of the Holocaust will remain firmly etched in Jewish consciousness, according to a statement issued after the meeting. These initiatives include: * Convening a three-day conference next year at which views on “Faith after the Holocaust” will be presented; * Publishing an anthology of sources representing all theological points of view on the subject; and * Creating revised school syllabuses and other educational materials for use in public schools, Hebrew schools and yeshiva day schools. “Holocaust curricula previously developed in the United States and Israel tended to focus on the past, rather than the future,” said Jerry Hochbaum, Memorial Foundation executive vice president. “They most often addressed issues that were two decades old and failed to take into account such radical changes that have taken place in the past 50 years as the passing of the generation of survivors, the gradual Americanization of the Shoah as American Jews increasingly view the Holocaust through the prism of American society and not through a Jewish lens, the increased polarization of Jewish life, rampant assimilation, and the increasing cultural gap between America and Israel.” The Memorial Foundation was founded in 1965 with reparations funds from the government of the former West Germany. Since its formation it has allocated more than $71 million in grants. This year’s grants were made to 69 projects and to 383 educators and communal workers. The grants include $365,000 for programs such as Mishpacha, an online program designed to educate marginally affiliated Jews, and Jewish Heritage Online Magazine.

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