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Showing posts with label Teacher Tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Teacher Tips. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Writing Contest Extended, Essay Suggestions for Students from Women Activist Think Tank

JPEF's 2012 Youth Writing Contest has been extended until May 10th! Please visit our contest page for more information, including best practices for students and teacher tips with useful ideas for using the contest in the classroom.
Devon Day of Wilson Classical High School in Long Beach, CA recently sent us some of their own suggestions to help students choose a focus for the contest. This year’s topic centers on how the stories and life lessons of women partisans can inspire people today to make the world a better place.
Devon teaches Film Analysis to 150 students and is incorporating the contest into her curriculum. She asked a think tank of women activists to help her brainstorm resources and examples her students could use as inspiration in connecting the experiences of women partisans to contemporary subjects. Here are some key contemporary issues that the think tank came up with:
  • Modern resistance movements, particularly people resisting and fighting back against genocide
  • Contemporary women’s struggles for rights and civil liberties
  • Overcoming traditional gender roles (particularly women in the military)
  • Resisting/surviving sexual harassment and assault
  • Standing up to bullies and bullying
  • Risking your safety to helping others in need
Specific examples of such stories include Sunitha Krishnan who saved 11,000 children and women in India’s sex trafficking market and Dolores Huerta who worked with Cesar Chavez to bring rights to farm laborers and their families, and has expanded her foundation to work for gay rights, women’s rights and other causes.
Resources that could help inspire essayists include:
The Youth Writing Contest is a fantastic way to connect teens to the pivotal role the partisans played in history. When learning about the stories of the partisans, educators should encourage students to identify the main ideas and lessons from what they have researched through JPEF’s films and study guides. Then, educators can have their students relate these ideas and lessons to one of the ideas listed above, or other relevant issues in their lives.
We look forward to reading all of the contest entries and wish your students good luck!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Resource Suggestions for 2012 Days of Remembrance

The theme for this year’s International Holocaust Days of Remembrance (April 15-22) is “Choosing to Act: Stories of Rescue”. The Jewish resistance movement is rife with stories of partisans liberating fellow Jews from work camps and smuggling them out of ghettos. The Jewish partisans fought not only for survival and vengeance, but also to rescue Jews and other victims of Nazi oppression from the horrors of the Holocaust. JPEF offers a variety of resources and study guides that are ideally suited for exploring this theme with your students.

JPEF Resource Directory on Jews Rescuing Jews

Online Courses –
Note: for classroom use, we recommend selecting chapters ahead of time and skipping “How to Use This in the Classroom”.

  • Antisemitism in the Partisans: Survival strategies and interviews with Jewish rescuers
  • Teaching with Defiance (includes Educator’s Guide): 1,200 Jews were rescued by the Bielski partisans – includes testimonial from the last surviving Bielski brother

Lessons and Activities –

  • Jewish Partisans Rescuing Jews: Highly recommended resource on Jewish resistance fighters who save thousands of Jews during the Holocaust
  • Putting the Gevurah (Heroism) Back Yom HaShoah: Remembrance and liturgy on Jewish resistance for Holocaust Memorial Day (April 19, 2012).
  • Eight Degees of Gevurah: Partisan rescuers and tzedakah as acts of justice through Maimonides’ ladder
  • Antisemitism in the Partisans and Tuvia Bielski Study Guide: Stories of successful Jewish rescuers plus historical background

Partisan Webcast: April 17, 2012, 10am PST –

  • At the age of 18, Sonia Orbuch joined the fight to bring an end to the Holocaust. Bring her inspiring stories to your students by live videocast and Q&A. Save your spot here!

Additional Resources

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Teacher Tips for Remembering the Jewish Partisans on Yom HaShoah

Remembering the 20-30,000 Jews who fought back against the Germans as partisans is a profoundly meaningful way to pay tribute to the 6 million Jews who ultimately perished in the Holocaust. To this end, JPEF provides a double-sided supplement for remembering resistance on Yom HaShoah called “Putting the Gevurah Back into Yom HaShoah.” (

Ilona Shechter, a teacher at Gideon Hausner Day School in Palo Alto and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Mandel Fellow, has organized many memorials during her career. She shared with JPEF staff the following tips for Jewish partisans-centered activities:

Show the JPEF Short Film Introduction to the Partisans

“If you only do one thing,” states Shechter, “show this film (available free at JPEF’s website at ( I have shown the film to (as young as) 5th grade and they loved it. For them, Holocaust meant death and dying and destruction. Watching Jews blowing up trains; this was the absolute best. The kids have responded very well to it. They asked very intelligent questions: Where did the Jewish partisans get all their supplies from? Who helped them and who didn’t?”

Teach new partisan material incrementally

Shechter continued, noting that incrementally adding new partisan material each year makes for highly effective lessons. She stated, “When the students get into 8th grade, I show them all the rest of the films. Today I showed them [JPEF’s] ‘Women in the Partisans.’ You could have heard a pin drop on the carpet. It’s an excellent teaching tool.” Ilona also recommends using the accompanying study guide when showing the film.

Hold candle lighting ceremonies in the classroom

“A simple, effective observance is to light 6 or 12 candles for the 6 million Jews (and the 6 million others considered “undesirable” by the Germans) who perished. Students take turns lighting candles, each remembering a different group: ‘This is a candle we light for the Jews who died in the death camps of Poland…This is a candle we light for the Jewish partisans who fought in the forests of Europe,’ etc.”

Talk with your students

A little information can stimulate a class-worth of conversation. Shechter shared, “A young teacher in Montana showed JPEF film clips to his class the first year he did it (taught about the partisans.) There was this stunned silence in the classroom. He said ‘What’s the matter?’ The class answered, ‘I bet there were more like that, but most didn’t get the opportunities, or realized that they were all going to be killed.’ That was a profound thing for kids to say. To realize that most Jews were starving and deprived and would have fought back if they could.”

Post pictures

“There’s nothing like having pictures of 12 and 14 year old partisans up in school, showing what young people can do…that age really was not material,” states Shechter. For printable photos, go to the homepage of JPEF’s website and click on image galleries under the Explore tab. You can also click the Image tab on any partisan profile.

Use Poetry, Music, and Memoirs

“A lot of poetry- poetry written by partisans- and memoirs, songs, and music…There’s a whole CD on partisan songs-playing music while partisan poetry is read…..You could do an entire Yom HaShoah v’HaGevurah entirely on partisans. It could be very effective.” Begin your search for this material by Googling “Jewish partisans song poetry memoir.”

Also, review a short poem about a Jewish women partisan on the last page of the Women in the Partisans study guide on the JPEF website,

Final Thoughts

Ilona Shechter articulated why she feels it is important to teach about the partisans and other resistance by concluding, “On Yom HaShoah, most people forget about the Gevurah (strength or heroism.) Everyone talks about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. But there was more. It blows people away when they see that.”