Catholic school teachers from around the country traveled to Israel to learn about anti-Semitism and the Holocaust as part of the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) nationally acclaimed Bearing Witness Advanced program.
Bearing Witness Advanced provides educators with an opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge of Israel against the backdrop of Jewish history, the Holocaust and Catholic-Jewish relations.
"Combining experts' knowledge of the Holocaust with the words of those who experienced it can have a unique and powerful impact," said Dr. Ed S. Alster, ADL's Director of Education. "The teachers learned firsthand how anti-Semitism can lead to tragedy if left unchecked. The experience should enable them to convey these lessons to their students more effectively."
At Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, the teachers heard from Holocaust survivors, historians and pedagogical experts. They also visited Christian and Jewish holy sites, and met with interfaith experts. To lend a contemporary sense of Israel, the group traveled around the country, and met with authors, journalists and political analysts.
To prepare for the trip, the educators attended an introductory seminar at Seton Hall University with Holocaust and anti-Semitism experts.
The 19 participants in the 2009 Bearing Witness Advanced seminar hailed from Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. All are graduates of regional ADL Bearing Witness programs.
Since its inception, Bearing Witness has trained more than 1,000 Catholic school educators across the country. In 1998 it became an ADL nationally sponsored program and ADL regional offices began replicating the initiative in 2002. Bearing Witness is endorsed by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.