First educational projects of our EU-funded pilot project take place in Ukraine
Educational activity under the pilot project that sponsors ESJF’s mass surveys in 2018-2020 has begun in Ukraine. On November 6th, educator and Jewish cemetery expert Dr. Alexandra Fishel led around 50 secondary school students to the Jewish cemetery in Bohuslav, Kyiv oblast.
ESJF educational projects aim to make Jewish material heritage more accessible for young people, in close cooperation with schools and their educators. We hope to facilitate engagement with local history in a tangible, straightforward way: rather than abstract historical information far removed, cemeteries bring students in close contact with history as it unfolded where they live. By teaching students how to recognize and decode Hebrew formulas on gravestones, students learn how to open up these sites for themselves, and start a conversation about local history and heritage.
In Bohuslav, students were first introduced to local Jewish life in a historical perspective, and to the significance of the cemetery in Judaism. They were then taught how to read Hebrew dates. Students learnt to recognize epigraphic formulas commonly found on gravestones, and were shown common symbols found on matzevot and their meaning, and then applied their freshly gained knowledge in practice,visiting a Jewish cemetery site under the guidance of experts.
ESJF educational strategy is always adapted to fit different conditions: for example, the gravestones in the Jewish cemetery in Bohuslav do not include any symbols. Students, having learnt how to read Hebrew-letter formulas, visited the cemetery and deciphered dates, and focused on comparing different shapes of gravestones rather than on symbols.
ESJF educational projects in Ukraine will be continued throughout November, targeting four secondary schools in Vyshnivets, Kyiv oblast.
Photos: Dr. Alexandra Fishel guiding students on the Jewish cemetery of Bohuslav, Ukraine; presentation in secondary school of Bohuslav; excerpt from presentation on Jewish life in Bohuslav.