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ASU to host Educators Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide

This year's theme covers 'Teaching the Holocaust in Arizona Classrooms Today'

Text reading "The Murray and Sabina Zemel z"l Educators Conference on The Holocaust and Genocide"
September 27, 2022

The Murray and Sabina Zemel z"l Educators Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide will be hosted by Arizona State University on Oct. 25 this year after being under the organization of the Bureau of Jewish Education for over 30 years. 

The conference aims to aid current and future Arizona teachers and educators in building programs, developing curricula and sharing best practices in educating on the Holocaust and other genocides. 

With the recent passing of Arizona House Bill 2241, which mandates teaching the Holocaust and at least one other genocide at least twice between seventh and 12th grade, this conference is especially helpful for new teachers who are looking for resources on how to effectively teach these sensitive topics.

The Phoenix Holocaust Association was one of the organizations that championed the bill and helped organize to get it passed. The association’s president Sheryl Bronkesh hopes the bills passage will help students realize their role in preventing future genocides.

“Through examination of the history of the Holocaust, students will learn the roles social, religious, political and economic factors had in the erosion of democratic values and human rights during World War II,” Bronkesh said. “This can enable students to identify contemporary circumstances that can threaten the rule of law and democratic institutions.”

This year’s conference theme is “For a New Generation: Teaching the Holocaust in Arizona Classrooms Today.” It will feature talks on climate issues and genocide, best practices in the classroom, media portrayals of genocide and more. 

Jacob Flaws, history lecturer within ASU’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, is the chair of the planning committee for the conference as it moves to ASU. He says this year’s conference will host many exceptional speakers.

“Attendees can expect a wide range of engaging content,” Flaws said. “From our introductory speaker, Dr. Alex Alvarez of Northern Arizona University, to our local area teachers, Kim Klett, Ashley Crose, Tracie McMurray, to ASU Professor Volker Benkert, to Isabel Mann, the teacher programs and curriculum specialist at the National World War II Museum, to Ambassador Edward O'Donnell, who served as U.S. Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues and now teaches for ASU, to our keynote speaker, Ellen Germain, who is current U.S. Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues for the U.S. State Department.”

Local high school teacher Klett has been teaching on these topics for years and encourages other teachers to attend.

“This topic is important because so many lessons can be drawn from the Holocaust and other genocides,” Klett said. “We say ‘Never Again,’ but what does that mean? Why do we still see so many genocides and mass atrocities occurring? How does this history make us think about the way we view and think about others?”

Anyone wanting to attend can learn more and register on the website. It is free and open to the public. The public is invited to register for the keynote address to be held at 3 p.m. at Mirabella at ASU.

The conference is sponsored by the Zemel family, the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, the Phoenix Holocaust Association, the Center for Jewish Studies and the Bureau of Jewish Education.

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