ESJF and Centropa conduct successful seminar for secondary school teachers in Thessaloniki, Greece
ESJF has teamed up with Centropa, an NGO that focuses on Jewish education, to organise a seminar for 35 secondary school educators in Greece. Titled “Teaching 20th century multicultural Greek history through Jewish family stories, promoting interreligious tolerance in the Balkans,” the seminar invited participants to develop approaches to bring Jewish history to the classroom through focusing on Jewish heritage sites – including cemeteries. The seminar was carried in in the framework of ESJF’s ongoing pilot project, co-funded by the European Commission.
The seminar took place on 15th and 16th of December in Thessaloniki, and it was organised in partnership with the Central Board of the Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS), the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki (JCT), under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, and co-funded by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) and the European Commission. The collaboration between the organisations proved to be fruitful, and is a forerunner of the continued collaboration that will happen under the grant “Protecting the Jewish cemeteries of Europe: Continuation of the mapping process, stakeholders’ involvement and awareness raising”.
ESJF contributed significantly to the seminar by focusing on the potential that Jewish cemeteries offer for teaching Jewish history. Assisted by Eleni Hodolidou of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, teachers developed lesson plans that integrate Jewish cemeteries in their classroom work. These were presented alongside the material Centropa uses to teach 20th century Jewish history in Greece and the Balkans, including films. A walking tour of the Jewish sites of Thessaloniki rounded educators’ perspective of Jewish material heritage in contemporary Greek urban contexts, while a lecture on the challenges of teaching the Holocaust in Greece was designed to help them prepare for potential difficulties in approaching such a sensitive subject. The seminar followed a workshop format, aiming to give teachers the space to develop their own lesson plans to use with their students.
Stella Kalle, a teacher of the Jewish School of Thessaloniki, said of the seminar: “It was an interesting, thought-provoking and most of all interactive seminar about the Jewish life in the Balkans. It’s not only about the knowledge you get, it’s more about the inspiration you gain cooperating with other educators that have the same interests and share the same values about tolerance and diversity.”
The lesson plans developed by seminar participants that integrate Jewish cemeteries will be shared on the ESJF webpage shortly.