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NY state officials want schools to say how they are teaching the Holocaust



This article was produced as part of JTA’s Teen Journalism Fellowship, a program that works with teens across the world to report on issues that impact their lives.

(JTA) — Sasha Bandler and Josh Davis feel lucky to have learned about the Holocaust directly from survivors, but this wasn’t part of any formal education. The high school seniors found the Holocaust lessons at their Long Island schools inadequate. 

“We’ve learned very little about the Holocaust aside from a general outline of what occurred,” said Davis, a student at Great Neck South High School. “In AP World History, my class spent about two class periods discussing the events of the Holocaust.”

Great Neck South’s Holocaust education differs from that at Paul D. Schreiber High School in Port Washington, and yet students there still find it unsatisfactory.

“My high school included ‘Night’ by Elie Weisel in its freshman-year curriculum, which I believe is a great first step in changing its Holocaust education,” said Bandler, a student at Schreiber High. “But I think there’s a long way to go to make sure students leave high school with a complete understanding of the Holocaust.”

For teen Isaiah Steinberg, Holocaust education came in his upstate New York middle school. “We read ‘Surviving Hitler’ in sixth grade, and we brought a Holocaust survivor to our school to talk with us,” Steinberg said, referring to a young adult book based on the experiences of Holocaust survivor Jack Mandelbaum. But still, he said he’s learned more from YouTube’s “Infographics Show” than in a classroom, where “in 8th grade, we probably spent three days. In 11th grade [AP U.S. history], we spent maybe one class.”

Student stories like these highlight the shortcomings and inconsistencies of New York’s efforts to require Holocaust education. Coupled with rising antisemitism across the state, legislators in recent months have sought to strengthen Holocaust education in New York, one of 23 states that have a mandate to teach the Holocaust. In August, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a law requiring a state-sponsored survey to track how school districts teach the Holocaust. Legislators see this as the first step in combating antisemitism in the state, even if it does not change the current regulations on Holocaust education. Instead, it will act as a barometer for how well schools are following the laws in place, allowing the Education Department to guide them in the right direction.

The ideal outcome of the survey is that we identify those schools that are failing to meaningfully instruct students on the history of the Holocaust, and that those schools work with the State Education Department on a corrective action plan that gets them on track as quickly as possible,” said State Sen. Anna Kaplan, a representative of northwest Nassau County and a sponsor for the new Holocaust education act.

Sixty percent of Millenial and Gen Z New Yorkers surveyed did not know that six million Jews were murdered, and 19% believed Jews caused the Holocaust—the highest in the nation, according to a 2020 Claims Conference survey.

“I think there are some glaring statistics out there where students can’t name any concentration camps, and people don’t know what Auschwitz is,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, a representative of Northeast Queens and one of the act’s sponsors.

New York’s legislation continues a trend of the state being proactive in teaching the Holocaust to its students. Public schools have been required to teach about human rights violations, with “particular attention to the study of the inhumanity of the Holocaust,” since 1994. But the statistics from the Claims Conference survey demonstrated to Rozic and Kaplan that New York schools were not following this law. Rozic and Kaplan said a change to the legislation was necessary to ensure New York’s students graduate with meaningful knowledge of the Holocaust.

The surveys, developed and distributed by the Education Department, have already been sent out to every public school across New York. They ask superintendents to outline what Holocaust education looks like at the elementary, middle and high school levels, and what training their teachers have in Holocaust education. The survey does not ask about how the curriculum is taught, rather, it only asks the superintendents to verify that they are teaching about the Holocaust.

These surveys were due to the Education Department by Nov. 10, 2022. According to Rozic, the department’s review of the results is expected by the beginning of 2023, at which point it will recommend changes to school districts that are not providing satisfactory Holocaust education, which is loosely defined in preexisting legislation. 

If schools do not respond, or their answers do not indicate that Holocaust instruction is provided at their district, the Education Department will take action, prescribing a corrective action plan.

Of the many potential action plans, the common thread is that more time must be spent in educating students on the Holocaust.

“I think schools should spend a little more time teaching the topic though,” said Marnie Ziporkin, a senior at Commack High School, “so that students can fully comprehend why this event was so impactful to the entire society and Jews especially.”

While the act does not provide for legal changes to curriculum or consequences for school districts whose Holocaust education is deemed unsatisfactory, Kaplan says it is a step in the right direction to providing proper Holocaust education to students across New York State.

“At the end of the day it comes down to us wanting to provide students with the education that is required by law,” said Kaplan.

The post NY state officials want schools to say how they are teaching the Holocaust appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.

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Local News

Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary



By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”

Raquel Dancho (left), Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, and Nikki Spigelman, President, Gwen Secter Centre

Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)

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Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station



This is a developing story.

(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.

An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.

Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.

The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.

The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to  transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.

Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.

The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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