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Press ReleaseHolocaust/Nazis

New York, NY, January 4, 1996...How adequately is the Holocaust being taught? The Holocaust has recently become an integral part of educational curricula in the United States, but are educators involved with Holocaust studies truly aware of the subject's many complications? These are some of the questions raised in the current issue of Dimensions, the journal of the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) Braun Center for Holocaust Studies.

In the past, Holocaust studies have received little attention in schools. Recently, with over 100 resource centers circulating educational material and the government's increasing involvement in mandating and recommending Holocaust curricula, the study of the Holocaust has become more widespread. Experts believe, however, that many educators are not truly aware of or adequately trained to effectively address problems unique to the subject.

Four scholars address the intricacies of Holocaust studies and the state of Holocaust education in their articles in the new issue of Dimensions.

Lawrence L. Langer, author and Holocaust educator at Simmons College, writes, "As we approach the twenty-first century, the need grows for teachers to achieve a balance between the history of the catastrophe and the various ways of representing the private ordeals of its victims." He notes that Holocaust educators "must be willing to confront behavior that cannot be explained by prior notions of why we do what we do," in turn inviting students to reevaluate their assumptions about what is "reasonable" behavior. This, writes Langer, takes flexibility and even courage on the part of the educator.

Irving Halperin, author and faculty member in the Jewish Studies Program at San Francisco State University, recognizes that successfully teaching the Holocaust requires more than just the communication of information, it requires the achievement of "a warm convergence between heart and head." In Halperin's article he stresses the necessity of encouraging students to "seek after the knowledge of what it means to be human in the highest sense."

As a Holocaust educator, who also prepares others to teach the subject, Karen Shawn writes about her concern with the lack of training teachers receive and the indifference of administrators toward Holocaust education. "We need to institute requirements for teacher certification in the fields of Holocaust history, literature, and pedagogy," said Shawn.

Psychiatrist, Anthony Storr explains the necessity for students to learn about the origins of anti-Semitism and bigotry which he explores in his article. "Students need to learn about what I have called the latent paranoid potential which lurks in the depths of the human mind and which is all too easily activated by adverse circumstances," said Storr.

The ADL publication also includes a book review section with reviews of Theo Richmond's Konin: A Quest and John Felstiner's Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew.

Subscriptions to Dimensions are $15 a year, $25 for two years or $9 a copy. Send check or money order to: Anti-Defamation League, 823 United Nations Plaza, Box MAE, New York, NY 10017.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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1996 Anti-Defamation League