Abraham H. Foxman's Story: A Life Saved, A Life of Service - Lesson Plan
The purpose of this lesson is to create an opportunity to increase students' knowledge of the Holocaust and their understanding of individual stories of loss, survival and rescue during that time. The lesson also increases students' recognition and commitment to moral decision-making and to the role of the individual in combating bias and hate.
2. Students will learn about the experiences of Hidden Children and the unique legacy of this experience.
3. Students will learn about forms of resistance and rescue by individuals during the Holocaust.
4. Students will explore the concept of moral decision-making and social activism by examining the life of Abraham Foxman after World War II and through his adulthood.
5. Students will explore ways in which they can commit to social activism and combat hate in their own lives.
National History Standards met for Grades 5-12:
Standard I: Chronological Thinking
Standard II: Historical Comprehension
Standard III: Historical Analysis and Interpretation
Standard IV: Historical Analysis and Interpretation
Standard V: Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision Making
Standard III B: The Causes And Course of World War II, The Character of the War at Home and Abroad, and Its Reshaping of the US Role In World Affairs
Standard IV A: The Causes of World War II (grades 7-12)
Standard IV B: The Global Scope, Outcome, and Human Cost of the War (grades 5-12)
Time: Two to three class periods
Techniques and Skills: Reading for information, small and large group work and discussion, grouping information and webbing, critical thinking, listening skills, understanding chronology of events,
Part I: Rescue and Survival
[Note: If students have little understanding of the Holocaust, it is important to spend time providing some context for them before proceeding with this lesson. Consider the following links on the ADL website to assist in this endeavor.]
2. Prior to distributing the Hidden Children handout, ask students if they have ever heard about the concept of "Hidden Children" during World War II. Some students might be familiar with the story of Anne Frank, who was hidden with her family. Explain that there are thousands of other stories of children who were hidden or protected during the war.
3. Distribute the Hidden Children handout and have students read the information aloud as a group activity. Emphasize that in many cases, the stories of survival of children during the Holocaust occurred as a result of the actions of a few brave people who risked their lives to save others. Although rescuers represented only a very small number of people in Nazi-occupied Europe, they could be found everywhere. Most countries had special sections of their underground resistance movements devoted to saving Jewish children. But, most often, those who helped acted as individuals. Ordinary people risked horrifying punishment and the safety of their families to rescue Jewish children. Whatever their reasons for helping -- out of friendship, religious conviction, patriotism, or for money -- they risked execution or deportation to a concentration camp for doing so.
4. After reading the handout, distribute the essay by Abraham Foxman about his life and experiences as a hidden child. Allow students to read this essay silently and encourage them to write down thoughts and questions as they read the material.
5. Conduct a large group discussion using some or all of the following questions.
2. Distribute Beyond Secret Tears,Krystyna's Story, and My First Kaddish handouts to students. If need be, redistribute and reread Mr. Foxman's story. Allow plenty of time for the students to read and discuss the stories in their small groups.
Links to stories:
3. Conclude this segment of the lesson with a large group discussion using some or all of the following questions.
2. Referring back to examining an individual experience, share with the students that Abraham H. Foxman has often asked, as do many survivors, "Why me? Why was I saved when so many others died?" As an adult, Mr. Foxman made choices and decisions about how he would live his saved life and give it meaning. Distribute Part II of My Legacy by Abraham Foxman to the students, as well as his biography. Allow time for students to read the material.
3. Draw a circle in the center and write Abraham Foxman's name in the center. Ask students to identify aspects of Abe's identity (e.g, personal characteristics, professional activities, religious belief, etc) in circles that spoke out from the center circle. (See example below).
4. After reviewing the completed diagram, ask students some or all of the following questions.
5. Tell students that the final part of this activity will ask them to consider the ways that each person has a role to play in combating hate and bias. While none of the acts of resistance or rescue during the Holocaust prevented it from happening, the number of deaths might have even been greater were it not for the efforts of Jews and non-Jews. While relatively few Christians rescued Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe, the fact remains that some did. Most rescuers deny doing anything heroic; rather, they believe they only did what was right. Introduce the quote by Ervin Staub, a historian of the Holocaust:
"Goodness, like evil, begins in small steps. Heroes evolve, they are not born. Very often the rescuers [during the Holocaust] make only a small commitment at the start - to hide someone for a day or two. But once they had taken that step, they begin to see themselves as differently, as someone who helps. What starts as mere willingness becomes intense involvement." 
6. Explain that most people, fortunately, are not faced with choices of the magnitude of those during the Holocaust. However, we each make many small choices, which may seem insignificant at the time, but that form the fabric of who we are and the pattern of who we will become. 7. Distribute the Roles People Play handout to each student. Have students count off to form groups of four students each. Ask students to write their responses to each of the four questions. 8. Once completed, ask students to share their responses with the others in their small group. Once they have had the chance to discuss their responses, invite the student to discuss and be prepared to share their responses to two additional two questions:
9. Ask the small groups to discuss their responses to the last two questions. Using a web chart connect common themes or ideas about the reasons why students intervened. Create a second web to connect themes regarding why students did not intervene. Ask students which is easier to do -- interrupt or stand by and why? What are the potential consequences - positive and negative -- of either action?
10. Explain to students that learning to interrupt acts of hate and bias is difficult. There are no easy answers, but it is important to understand that each person plays a role in combating bias or allowing it to continue. Ignoring bias allows the act to go unchecked, allowing it to escalate to possibly more harmful and dangerous levels, as is seen in the study of the Holocaust.
11. Distribute with students Quotes on Participation handout. Invite them to read the quotes aloud and discuss the relationship of the quote to the lesson.
12. Distribute the Personal Contract handout to each student. Have students complete this form silently. When all students have completed the contract, ask them to find a partner and discuss the personal commitment that they have made. Instruct students to sign and witness the contract for their partner.
2. Have students research and write essays on the lives of other Hidden Children during the Holocaust.
3. Have students research and write essays on the lives and actions of the people quoted on the Quotes on Participation handout.
4. Have students participate in Resistance Role Plays, a follow-up lesson excerpted from the Braun Holocaust Institute Secondary Curriculum on ADL's website at: http://www.adl.org/holocaust_curriculum/hol_curriculum.asp
5. Invite a Holocaust survivor to speak to the class about his/her experiences. The ADL's Hidden Child Foundation can assist in finding a speaker for your class. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Have students research Righteous Christians during the Holocaust.
7. Have students research other groups of people who were persecuted by the Nazis in addition to Jews.
8. Have students prepare a dramatic presentation representation of the 1945 quote by Pastor Martin Niemoeller:
[Note: There are several versions of this quote; some include additional groups of people who were victims of Nazi persecution.]
 Quoted in Damiel Goldman, "Is Altruism Inherited?" Baltimore Jewish Times, 12 April 1985, 70.
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