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22 Holocaust educators from US, Poland engage in coveted Holocaust Education Fellowship

It opened with a lecture on the history of anti-Judaism and closed with a lecture on contemporary antisemitism.

Jewish Foundation for the Righteous Alfred Lerner Fellows, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of JFR.
Jewish Foundation for the Righteous Alfred Lerner Fellows, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of JFR.

The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) selected 22 middle- and high school teachers, in addition to Holocaust center staff, from eight states and Poland as 2024 Alfred Lerner Fellows. The group participated in the JFR’s Summer Institute for Teachers, an intensive five-day course, delving into the complex history of the Holocaust and discussing new teaching techniques for introducing the subject of the Holocaust into their classrooms.

The conference took place at the Hilton Newark Airport from June 22 through June 26. It opened with a lecture on the history of anti-Judaism and closed with a lecture on contemporary antisemitism.

The program is a high-level, intensive academic seminar that exposes participants to noted Holocaust scholars.

The seminar is designed to allow participants to meet in small groups following each lecture, address the specific aspect of the Holocaust that is presented, share teaching concepts and develop approaches for introducing the subject matter to their students.

Teachers selected for the program must be English or social-studies teachers at the middle school or high school level; have taught for at least five years; are at least five years from retirement; and currently teach the Holocaust in their classroom.

“The three primary goals are to provide teachers with a graduate-level course on antisemitism and the Holocaust; empower educators to develop pedagogical connections with other teachers; and equip these teachers with additional resources to bring back to their classrooms,” said JFR executive vice president Stanlee Stahl.

Scholars include Doris Bergen of the University of Toronto; Volker Berghahn of Columbia University; Lawrence R. Douglas of Amherst College; Steven Field of New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine; Daniel Green of Northwestern University; Avinoam Patt of New York University; Richards Plavnieks of Florida Southern College; Robert Jan van Pelt of the University of Waterloo in Canada; Edward B. Westermann of Texas A&M University; renowned Holocaust historian and exhibition curator Paul Salmons; renowned author Alexandra Zapruder; and Holly Huffnagle, U.S. special envoy to combat and monitor antisemitism for the American Jewish Committee.

2024 JFR Alfred Lerner Fellows
Jewish Foundation for the Righteous Alfred Lerner Fellows, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of JFR.

The 2024 Lerner Fellows are:

•  Robin Cook from Cullman High School in Cullman, Ala.

•  Anne Franzen from the Chadwick School in La Canada, Calif.

•  Christine Giles-Lefkowitz from Palm Beach Central High School in Wellington, Fla.

•  Darrell Schwartz from William T. Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

•  Lisa Brown from Lake Worth High School in Lake Worth, Fla.

•  Mary Ellen Richichi from Independence Middle School in Jupiter, Fla.

•  Sheri Crowley from Polo Park Middle School in Wellington, Fla.

•  Lauren Crampton from Holocaust Education Resource Council in Tallahassee, Fla.

•  Judy Schancupp from Georgia Commission on the Holocaust in Sandy Springs, Ga.

•  Brianna Doherty from New Jersey’s Department of Education Commission on Holocaust Education in Trenton, N.J.

•  Cara Thapa from Kean University in Union, N.J.

•  Keith Laviola from Forrestdale Middle School in Rumson, N.J.

•  Brittany Pavely from the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center in Cincinnati, Ohio

•  Erin Durstock from the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center in Cincinnati, Ohio

•  Michele Russo from Seneca Valley Intermediate School in Harmony, Pa.

•  Rebecca Baverso from St. Bede School in Pittsburgh, Pa.

•  William Penderghest from Abington Senior High School in Abington, Pa.

•  Heather Brougham-Cook from Cross Schools in Bluffton, S.C.

•  Riane (Alli) Ott from EL Wright Middle School in Columbia, S.C.

•  Haley Hewitt from Klein Cain High School in Klein, Texas

•  Kenneth Taylor from Holocaust Museum Houston in Houston, Texas

•  Kinga Senczyk from POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland

The nationally acclaimed Fellowship program is named in memory of Alfred Lerner, the founding chairman and chief executive officer of MBNA Corporation, who died in October 2002. Lerner was a longtime advisor and supporter of JFR programs and activities. His deep commitment to the work of JFR and his special interest in the field of Holocaust education led to the seminar being endowed in his name.

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The JFR continues its work of providing monthly financial assistance to aged and needy Righteous Gentiles. Since its founding, the JFR has provided more than $45 million to some 3,600 aged and needy rescuers in 34 countries. Its Holocaust teacher-education program has become a standard for teaching the history of the Holocaust and educating teachers and students about the significance of the righteous as moral and ethical exemplars. See more at: www.jfr.org.
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