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First Textbook on Holocaust for Jewish Schools to Be Issued in July

June 7, 1968
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The first textbook on the Nazi holocaust for Jewish school use will be published July 15 under auspices of the American Association for Jewish Education for pupils in Jewish high schools, it was disclosed today. It is one of three books on the murder of the six million European Jews for such Jewish students either published or in preparation.

The Commission on Jewish Education of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations published last January an anthology for use as a textbook in Reform Hebrew high school departments. It is entitled “Out of the Whirlwind: A Reader on Holocaust Literature.” The Commission on Jewish Education of the United Synagogue of America is now working on a graded textbook for students in Conservative high schools. Still untitled, it is expected to be published in 1970, according to Dr. Morton Siegel, director of the Commission, who, with Dr. Daniel Greenberg of Sudbury, Mass., is writing the textbook.

The AAJE book, “The Story of the Jewish Holocaust in Europe,” is edited by Dr. Judah Pilch, retiring director of the AAJE National Curriculum Research Institute. The 318-page hard-cover textbook is a revision of an experimental mimeographed text which was prepared last year and tested in 21 pilot Jewish high schools. The first edition will be 4,500 copies and the textbook is intended for Jewish high school students of all denominations, according to Dr. Pilch.

Dr. Pilch said contributors to the textbook were asked to revise their chapters in the light of the reactions of both students and teachers who used the experimental version. Changes included a revision of language to make it more understandable to teenage users, addition of a glossary of names and places, elimination of all editorializing matter, and inclusion of information on the Nuremberg War Crimes trials, the Jerusalem trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Auschwitz camp personnel trials and related material. Material covers Jewish life in Europe before the holocaust, the “Jewish question” in Hitler’s Third Reich, the factual story of the holocaust, literature, Jewish resistance, and a chapter on the theme that the world knew about the mass murders and was silent.

“Out of the Whirlwind” was edited by Rabbi Albert H. Friedlander, a Berlin-born scholar. Its preparation stemmed from a concern among Reform educators that the topic was being neglected in Jewish education. It includes material discussing how God could have permitted the holocaust. The anthology is being sold in a trade edition by Doubleday which received 5,000 copies from the first press run of nearly 20,000 and the Commentary Book Club took 4,500 copies. Doubleday has reported sales of 2,000 copies to date. A spokesman said that a discussion guide for use by Reform high school teachers was being prepared for use with the anthology in the 1968-69 school year. He added that orders for 1,000 copies have been received by the UAHC by individuals but that bulk orders by schools were not expected until later this summer.

Dr. Siegel, explaining the long delay in preparing such a textbook, said that it was a very difficult topic to handle because an effort had to be made to include the “how” and “why” of such a disaster. He added that in the past half decade there had been many books published on the holocaust and hence there was a belief among Jewish educators that the time was ready to incorporate the topic in Jewish education.

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