Spark meaningful conversations about religious freedom, the nature of democracy, and civic participation with this timeless multimedia collection.
Last week, the United States media reported on an event that took place at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). A month ago, UCLA student Rachel Beyda put herself forward as a candidate for a student judicial board position. In the interview process, a student board member asked her, "Given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?" Members of the board then debated her candidacy and her ability to be unbiased.
This past fortnight has seen an alarming number of antisemitic and racist incidents in the news: in Germany, two people were killed and many more terrorised in a mass shooting attempt that targeted a synagogue; in Bulgaria, football fans taunted players with racist chants and Nazi salutes; in Hertfordshire, a teacher allegedly “joked” about sending primary school pupils who failed to complete their work “to the gas chamber”(and then told them not to tell anyone); and in politics, another Labour politician resigned from the party citing the rise of antisemitism as the reason for her departure.
What does Facing History look like in action? Look into Calee Prindle’s classroom and you’ll see it come to life. Calee is an English Language Arts teacher and an advisor at the Facing History School (FHS) in New York City. FHS is a founding member of The Facing History Innovative Schools Network – a connected group of more than 80 schools that embrace Facing History's core themes as essential to their mission.
Facing History and Ourselves President and CEO, Roger Brooks, responded to the recent Christchurch mosque shootings on Cognoscenti today—the ideas and opinion page for WBUR, the Boston-based wing of NPR. In his piece, he reflects upon his exposure to antisemitism over the course of his upbringing and how this shapes his thinking about contemporary antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hate. He also invites the reader to consider how education can be used to mitigate hatred and temper the threat of violence.
The recent row over Bill Maher and Ben Affleck's heated discussion of Islam on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher strikes me as an opportunity for a civic lesson–one rooted not in debating who is right or wrong, or who is bigoted or not, but one, that, in true Facing History and Ourselves fashion, is rooted in history. At Facing History, we have learned that history often provides a needed distance from which we can illuminate the present and inform more productive civic dialogue.
Educators have the added task of helping young people to process, understand, and reflect while the story is still unfolding.
On March 2, 2019, a group of high school students in Southern California decided during a party to arrange red Solo cups in the shape of a swastika and took pictures of themselves next to the symbol, raising their hands in Nazi salutes. When Leslie White—Holocaust Studies teacher at Tarbut V’Torah and Director of Education at JFCS Holocaust Center—heard what happened, she stepped up to teach the students about the Holocaust.