January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Designated by the United Nations (UN), this day honors the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism.
The UN also urges member states to develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides. Below, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has collected resources about antisemitism and tools that Washington educators can use for teaching about the Holocaust.
What is antisemitism?
Definitions of antisemitism can vary across organizations, as they are often the consensus of a set of given perspectives. These definitions can evolve with time and context.
Here are some contemporary definitions and understandings of antisemitism:
- The Anti-Defamation League (ADL): In its Education Glossary, the ADL defines antisemitism as “the marginalization and/or oppression of people who are Jewish based on the belief in stereotypes and myths about Jewish people, Judaism and Israel.”
- The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA): “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
- The United Stated Holocaust Memorial Museum writes that “antisemitism means prejudice against or hatred of Jews.”
What laws does Washington have regarding Holocaust education?
State law (RCW 28A.300.115) strongly encourages middle schools, junior high schools, and high schools to include instruction on the Holocaust. This instruction can include other examples of genocide and crimes against humanity. According to law, “The studying of this material is intended to: Examine the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and intolerance; prepare students to be responsible citizens in a pluralistic democracy; and be a reaffirmation of the commitment of free peoples never again to permit such occurrences.”
OSPI is required to develop best practices and guidelines for high-quality instruction, as well as support teachers in implementing these best practices and guidelines. The OSPI website contains detailed information about Holocaust education.
Resources about Jewish life
- A Library of Congress exhibition, From Haven to Home: 350 Years of Jewish Life in America, presents a side-by-side timeline of American Jewish events, American events, and world events.
- Centropa: This organization works to preserve Jewish memory by archiving the stories of Jewish people.
- The Jewish Americans: This three-part documentary can be viewed on PBS. Its website includes a list of resources for further information about Jewish life.
Resources on antisemitism
- Antisemitism Uncovered: This resource from the ADL reviews definitions of antisemitism, examines antisemitism throughout history, and debunks antisemitic myths.
- Antisemitism after the Holocaust: This brief video, presented by Yad Vashem, explains that antisemitism has continued even after the Holocaust and threatens the lives of Jewish people.
Resources for teaching about antisemitism
- This handout about Antisemitism Over Time, created by educational organization Echoes and Reflections, can be used in classroom instruction materials.
- Echoes and Reflections also has a document containing resources for defining antisemitism, understanding antisemitism throughout history, and examining antisemitism today.
- OSPI will offer a three-part virtual workshop series that covers teaching about Judaism, the history of European antisemitism, and the complexities of Jewish American identity. The first part of the series will be held on February 7, 2023, and all parts of the series are free to educators.
Resources on the Holocaust
- Learn About the Holocaust: This webpage from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum contains resources about the Holocaust, antisemitism and Holocaust denial, genocide and mass atrocities, and more.
- The Shoah Foundation at the University of Southern California maintains collections of personal stories about genocide, including their collection about the Holocaust.
- Holocaust Remembrance Day: The Holocaust Center for Humanity (HCH) shares a video from the 2022 remembrance day, as well as suggestions for ways to honor the day.
- Combating Holocaust denial and distortion: This webpage from the IHRA includes information about current efforts to minimize the Holocaust and resources for countering these distortions.
- Survivor Encyclopedia: Maintained and updated by the HCH, this encyclopedia includes the stories of survivors and eyewitnesses who live or have lived in Washington.
- Genocide Resources: The HCH defines genocide and provides resources about countries that have experienced genocide or are at risk of experiencing genocide.
Resources for teaching about the Holocaust
- Best Practices for Teaching Lessons of the Holocaust: These practices were developed by the HCH on behalf of OSPI.
- Educating for Change: Ensuring Holocaust Remembrance in WA State was presented in April 2021 by OSPI and the HCH. To supplement the hour-long video, this document contains additional teaching and learning resources.
- Then and There, Here and Now: Holocaust Education and Memory in WA State was presented in April 2022 by OSPI and HCH.
- Speakers Bureau: Facilitated by the HCH, the Speakers Bureau includes speakers who have survived the Holocaust and other genocides. They share their stories throughout the Pacific Northwest.
- Talking to Young People About Race, Racism, and Equity: This OSPI webpage provides resources for educators, school staff, families, and caregivers.