Canadian Educators' Seminar in Yad Vashem Jerusalem

The Educators' Seminar at the International School for
Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

Call the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem at 416.785.1333 to learn more about attending a fully-sponsored Holocaust educational program at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

Fourteen Canadian educators took part in Yad Vashem Jerusalem’s three-week Summer International Educators' Seminar at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies in July. The unique seminar was developed by Yad Vashem’s scholars to impart the latest in Holocaust-related curricular resources and pedagogical tools to Canadian educators who teach in the public school system, many of them in Israel for the first time.

The Holocaust is an event that fundamentally challenges the foundations upon which human civilization rests. It calls into question basic assumptions of human behaviour, urges mankind to consider the tenuous links that hold civil society together and to actively work to thwart it from collapse.

Tragically, society must still learn the lessons of the Holocaust, as racism, bigotry and intolerance are still living realities. Yad Vashem, as the preeminent leader in the field of Holocaust studies, has met the call of these challenging times. A unique series of seminars was developed expressly for educators from around the globe. These are the Summer International Educators’ Seminar and the Winter Educators’ Seminar at Yad Vashem Jerusalem.

Since the inception of the educational seminars in 1995, approximately 3,000 teachers from all over the world, including Canada, have participated. Educators from public and private Jewish educational frameworks come to Yad Vashem from North America, Australia, South America, and Eastern Europe. The international flavor of the Seminars allows the educators to experience the diverse understanding and pedagogical imperatives of their colleagues. This imbues the Seminars with an international perspective on Holocaust education that could not be achieved in a seminar open only to one specific geographical group.

The Summer International and the Winter Educators’ Seminars provide educators with the facts of the Shoah and the pedagogical tools to teach this sensitive topic. Given by top experts in the field of Holocaust scholarship, research, and education, the seminars offer participants with a unique opportunity to obtain an unparalleled academic and pedagogical experience in Holocaust education.

The seminars are built upon three major pillars; academic, pedagogical, and experiential, reflective of the educational philosophy of the school. The academic component takes educators through the history and culture of the Jewish people in the interwar period, a people with diverse interests and roots – not a people born as victims. The pedagogical component provides participants with the tools to translate this academic content into suitable pedagogical materials that are age appropriate and multi-disciplinary. The experiential component includes meeting with survivors, whose testimonies document and personalize this tragic historical event, providing the Holocaust with a human face and heart. Lastly, field trips across Israel connect educators not only with the recent history of the Jewish people but also with its ancient roots in the Land of Israel, providing a context for the Holocaust and its aftermath.

Most importantly, the seminars address the recent upsurge in antisemitism and Holocaust denial throughout the world today, including strategies for combatting these phenomena and promoting the universal lessons that can be drawn and disseminated.

The Canadian Society for Yad Vashem strongly believes in education as the number one instrument to creating a more tolerant society and compassionate community. Thus, we are proud to have made recruiting and sending Canadian educators to the Summer and Winter Educators’ Seminars at the International School for Holocaust Studies in Jerusalem one of our top educational initiatives.

In that regard, the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem recruits and sends annually, with full scholarships, between 20–25 Canadian educators from public and private Jewish educational frameworks to participate in these unique training seminars; in the last 10 years, more than 180 educators from across Canada attended the Educators' Seminar.

In The Words of Our Educators


I also gained a lot of new knowledge on the creation of the state of Israel and I am very impressed with the determination of the people to build this state. A profound admiration and respect for this country grew all along this trip.
– Laurence Assouline

The personal experiences shared with us by the survivors and historians were the most impactful aspect of the trip. These stories help educators put a face to the countless individuals that were affected by the Holocaust. Creating a human component in the lessons helps the students get past the overwhelming numbers associated with the Holocaust and focus on the stories of the individuals.
– Jason Hudson

My favourite moment, the moment that I will always remember with such love, was when we were at Oskar Schindler’s gravesite and Genya Manor (Schinder Jew no. 282) gently took my hand and we walked back to an awaiting car. To have this wonderful woman spontaneously reach out to me still brings a sweet tear to my eye.
– Dr. Prof. Jeff McLaughlin

We need not be saints to do the right thing – that is a most important message to impress upon students, because often they wonder how they can make a difference. They think I am a nobody, what can I do? But if they look at some examples of the “Righteous among the Nations,” they will see that it begins with a belief that all people are human and should be given equal rights, and thus should be helped when need be.
– Carmen Woolgar

I am now more determined than ever to extend to hundreds of others, the myriad facets of the Holocaust, and the importance it represents in the lexicon of Jewish history, future genocide prevention, human rights education and legislation, and at a most fundamental level, personal responsibility, one for the other.
– Floralove Katz

The program was both inspiring and enriching. After participating in over 25 lectures, 9 pedagogical lessons, several meetings with survivors, and trips (which all added to my development as an educator) I am ready to continue with enthusiasm the mission I set out for myself.
– Gina Lavine

These instructors brought the subject to life but with sensitivity and compassion, which I have always attempted to bring to my own classroom. … They were truly a group of brilliant scholars but also of master teachers. They brought such a vast body of knowledge to our group, they were open to questions, and were adaptable in regards to discussing how this information could be shared with students of all age groups.
– Jinny St-Hilaire

It was a huge privilege to learn from such eminent scholars and passionate contributors to our understanding of antisemitism and the Shoah. As a North American, I live in a fast-paced culture, but fast-paced learning is not necessarily the same as deeper learning. Thank you for the privilege of experiencing this unique opportunity to engage in a process of deeper learning!
– Nathalie Sirois

I was surprised at how much I gained from every single lecture. Initially I didn’t think some topics would be relevant to my particular discipline or syllabus, but I discovered ideas and pedagogical strategies in every session that I can use in my classes throughout the academic year.
– Rachel Metalin

I am convinced that this unparalleled opportunity has given me additional tools and knowledge to better serve my students, colleagues, and community. I look forward to begin this school year and eager to include the content of my learning into the curriculum.
– Vincent Gagnon

... je peux maintenant affirmer que ces trois semaines à Yad Vashem ont changé ma vision du monde et m’ont donné le goût de m’investir à fond dans l’enseignement de l’Holocauste et dans le développement de la tolérance dans mon milieu.
– Mr. Marc St. Louis