• karen.manns posted an update 11 years ago

    “Get the Jews out of the banks”, the words caught my ears as I walked past. Not believing what I just heard, I turned back to see a young man in front of a news camera. “The whole collapse is because of greedy Jews”, he continued. I stood transfixed to hear a college educated young man in the Occupy San Diego movement. It was a moment of self awareness for me. I am no stranger to Anti Semitic speech, after all, I have been teaching the “Holocaust Unit” for 20 plus years. I have worked to combat bias and intolerance in my classroom. I focus on the dangers of hate, extremism and exclusion and yet, I was shown in no uncertain terms how much more education remains.
    A few years ago I was invited to attend the Echoes and Reflection Conference in San Diego. It was at this conference that I began to see how little I really understood of the Holocaust. That conference led me to the Belfer National Conference in the summer of 2011and it was in Washington D.C. that my passion for Holocaust education was ignited. From truly understanding Anti-Semitism to seeing that the Holocaust extended far beyond Germany’s borders I learned so much; but the greatest lesson by far was the danger of being a bystander. I wanted to help both myself and my students understand the Holocaust as a significant event in history that continues to have universal implications. I wanted to help students recognize the complexity of individual choices and dilemmas during the Holocaust and examine how prejudicial attitudes and discriminating practices can escalate to violence. And finally, I wanted to know how I could help define the roles and responsibilities of individuals and how their actions, or lack of, uphold the principals of democracy.
    Having the honor to travel with the Jewish Resistance Teacher’s program last summer to Israel, Poland and Germany to gain different perspectives and learn how to use primary sources and artifacts, I was able to revamp my educational focus on the Holocaust and bring an ever greater understanding of the holocaust to my students, the kind of understanding that comes from walking in the footprints of history. As a teacher who already incorporates tolerance into my daily lesson plans. I want become an advocate outside my classroom.
    While not in my classroom, I can be found outdoors exploring with my husband enjoying many of San Diego’s great playgrounds. We have fun hiking, running, cycling, jet skiing, river rafting and while at home, gardening, but most of all we enjoy traveling. To that end, we get to visit our oldest son in Boston were he graduated from college last year and our middle son in Washington State were he is finishing his freshman year. Our daughter, a high school junior, has her sights on Washington D.C. .
    I look forward to meeting each of you – Karen