The New York City Summer Seminar Celebrates Its 10th Year
The Memorial Library held its 10th annual New York City Summer Seminar, a landmark achievement in its ongoing – and expanding – effort to widen the horizon for seasoned educators who teach about the Holocaust and other genocides. The seminar, which serves as the cornerstone of the Library’s educational program, hosted a cadre of 24 teachers, with 22 hailing from communities across the United States and for the first time, two from Hungary.
Participants engaged in creative thinking and peer collaboration under the guidance of Director Sondra Perl and Associate Director Jennifer Lemberg, together with Library faculty Alice Braziller and Micha Franke, and International Program Coordinator Oana Nestian-Sandu. They gained mastery of challenging resource materials using innovative approaches, and discovered together how writing and inquiry have the power to inspire their students toward social action.
At an evening celebration with its Board of Directors and special guests, the Library honored Sondra for a decade of vision, leadership, and commitment to the success of the Summer Seminar. Other highlights were the opportunity to meet with survivor Irving Roth, author of the memoir Bondi’s Brother. Participants attended a special screening of Righteous Among Us: Two Who Defied the Nazis, a documentary about rescue during the Holocaust, and engaged in a meaningful discussion with the film’s director, Artemis Joukowsky.
Beyond the intensive formal curriculum, the seminar program included site visits around the city, giving participants an up-close view of New York’s diversity. The group also had the chance to experience Jewish life and culture by participating in a traditional Shabbat dinner in the Library dining room and dancing to the beat of a live klezmer band.
The Library continues to explore new program venues in Europe, so it seized the unique opportunity to host two Hungarian educators at the request of the Association of Holocaust Organizations. Peter Szabo, a history teacher from the town of Paks, and Marianne Pataki, a high school teacher and librarian from Budapest, attended the summer seminar as part of a program organized by the US State Department, in conjunction with Hungary’s Ministry of Human Resources and the American Embassy in Hungary.
Daily writing reflections play an essential role in the seminar’s process of engaging educators with such a challenging, emotional topic. For Marianne, the writing in particular helped her and her peers “rethink and transform” their experiences and find “our own voice to handle and deal with the social injustices of the past and present.”
“It is not an exaggeration to say that we were held in the palms of our hosts,” Marianne said of the unforgettable seminar experience and the Library’s appreciation for the participating teachers, who are committed both personally and professionally to bringing what they have gained in New York back to their own schools and communities.
In addition to the New York City seminar, the Library also sponsored Satellite Seminars in 11 communities across the United States this past summer, including three first-time programs in Maryland, Massachusetts, and on Long Island.