Spreading the word

February 22, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Zionism Victoria facilitated a full day educational experience bringing 120 students from St Joseph’s College in Echuca to Melbourne as part of the Jakob Frenkiel Connecting Cultures Program.

Jakob Frenkiel rebuilt his life in Australia following a miraculous escape from the train taking him and his family to the death camps. The Jakob Frenkiel Connecting Cultures Program is supported by the charitable foundation that he established. It is a FREE program offered to all Victorian schools and communal organisations and aims to foster community harmony through cross cultural awareness. It forms part of the Victorian Government’s Vision to equip children with the knowledge and skills to participate and contribute to our multicultural society. Participants learn about Judaism, Israel, the Holocaust and the Jewish contribution to Australia.

After a successful inaugural event in February last year, St Joseph’s College Echuca have decided to make this an annual occasion on their calendar. After an early morning 3 hour bus ride from Echuca to Melbourne the students began their day at the Jewish Holocaust Museum. For most students their first introduction to the Holocaust was by reading the English text Night by Elie Wiesel so a visit to the Jewish Holocaust Museum is instrumental and supplements their understanding.

Following the Jewish Holocaust Museum the students visited the Beth Weizmann Jewish Community Centre for a traditional Israeli falafel lunch. It was a new experience for the country students many of which had never tasted chick peas or humous.

The afternoon consisted of an interactive program run by Courage to Care. Following on from their museum visit the students were able to expand their understanding through an initial video presented by Courage to Care on the Holocaust. They were then privileged to hear a survivor give their in-depth account of their own personal Holocaust survival story. As a culmination to the day, Courage to Care volunteers facilitated workshops with the students to encourage them to become Upstanders not Bystanders. They utilised state of the art new technology with their i-pad driven workstations with their new travelling multimedia exhibition and education program. This exhibition challenges bystander behaviour by using the period of the Holocaust as a vehicle to explore racism. Prejudice, stereotyping and bullying, and to highlight the acts of the Righteous Among the Nations and heroes of other genocides.

Adam Prime of St Joseph’s College Echuca commented that “it is an amazing program which gives our students an opportunity to hear first hand from a survivor. Through these experiences we can teach our children lessons that are not possible in classrooms.”

A spokesperson for ZV said: “Zionism Victoria’s mission of connecting Victorians with Israel is bolstered by this important Jakob Frenkiel Connecting Cultures Program. By educating and informing students and their teachers, Zionism Victoria enriches their understanding of Jewish culture and history, the Jewish connection to Israel and helps cultivate the values of tolerance and respect. If we can facilitate change with our children, we have a chance to change the world.”

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