By: Jonathan Felman  | 

YU and Yad Vashem Form Partnership in Holocaust Education

Yeshiva University’s Emil A. and Jenny Fish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and Yad Vashem announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on March 6, with both entities pledging future collaboration in Holocaust education. 

While the MOU, signed by YU President Ari Berman and Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan, does not commit the parties to any specific initiatives, the partnership is planned to include study trips abroad in Israel, graduate courses taught by scholars affiliated with Yad Vashem and lectures about Yad Vashem’s artifacts and resources, Director Shay Pilnik of the Fish Center told The Commentator. 

“The partnership,” said Pilnik, “will include a whole range of programs — a study abroad trip to Israel, MA courses taught by Israeli scholars affiliated with Yad Vashem and a series of lectures introducing the treasures and resources of the world’s foremost Holocaust memorial museum.

The “focal point” of the partnership will be a course offering certification in Holocaust education offered by YU for middle and high school-level educators nationwide. The course will feature instructors and scholars supplied by Yad Vashem, according to Pilnik.

What sets this partnership apart from other Holocaust study programs, Pilnik told The Commentator, is its point of view. He hopes the venture will enable YU and Yad Vashem to educate people about the Holocaust from the perspective of those victimized by it. Pilnik believes that rather than directly fighting antisemitism, Holocaust education can prevent its rise. 

“If the ADL [Anti-Defamation League] are antisemitism’s firefighters, we are the fire prevention inspectors.”

The partnership comes amidst a national increase in antisemitism and decline in Holocaust knowledge. Antisemitism is at its highest in decades, according to the ADL, and surveys show that nearly half of Americans are unable to name a single concentration camp.

“Both Yeshiva University and Yad Vashem are global leaders in the field of Holocaust education,” Berman said in a statement. “The intention of this partnership is to amplify the impact of institutional resources during an unprecedented rise in antisemitism and decline in Holocaust literacy. We are excited to partner Yeshiva University’s world-class educators with Yad Vashem to help advance the mutual goal of increasing Holocaust awareness in America’s classrooms.”

The Emil A. and Jenny Fish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies was created in 2019 and named for Holocaust survivor Emil Fish and his wife, Jenny. The mission of the Center, according to its website, is “to apply the lessons learned from the Holocaust and other genocides to combat prejudices, hateful ideologies and future atrocities.”

“This is a powerful partnership between two international entities and communities,” said Pilnik, “that want to ensure that the Holocaust is never de-Judaized, never diluted and become this vague reference to the murder of 11 million people by a faceless group called Nazis. We want the world to know what the crime was, who committed it and who the victims were.”

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Photo Caption: YU and Yad Vashem announced a partnership on March 6

Photo Credit: Noam Chen / Israeli Ministry of Tourism