The Educational Center of Beit Terezin maintains for the last eight years workshops for 9 - 12 grade classes' pupils, instructors, students and teachers. A standard workshop day lasts about 6 to 8 hours and at least one central activity takes place in the History Museum, with the original items exhibited there in background, creating direct contact with them. The Museum's structure and the floor mosaic in the middle of it, present to those taking part in these workshops, the location of the ghetto and physical conditions encountered there by the newly arrived prisoners. The paintings on the Museum's walls are historic documents, evidencing the kind of confrontation with these hardships. The items shown there make real the distress of the ghetto Jews, the solutions they developed in order to face it all. In a workshop meeting of about two hours, the students are confronted with questions and existential and moral dilemmas with regard to Jewish life in the ghetto. The activity of these workshops is based on documents shown in the exhibition and on accompanying documents. Towards the end of the workshop, the group prepares an item for exhibition to be shown in their own classes or in their schools in connection with the Holocaust activities there. The opening of the exhibition hall will widen and vary the possibilities to interlace the art collection in the educational activities of the Center.
The uniqueness of Beit Terezin is in its advanced activities to perpetuate the memory of those prisoners who were in the ghetto during three and half years of its existence (1941 - May 1945), and perished. There are some advantages to the educational aspect while focusing on the ghetto history. The youth are able to get a general image, relatively deep of the happenings in the ghetto, and from there to enter the field of diverse questions regarding society, culture, education and management of the ghetto. Additional advantage lies in the possibilities of realization by the help of the Museum and the archive, which evoke curiosity and the wish to know more about what happened there. The deep and proper understanding of one ghetto is an opening point, from where questions regarding other ghettos and camps all over Europe arise. For instance, discussing the question of the Zionist youth movements responses in ghetto Terezin, grasped as entirely different from other ghettos in Poland, Slovakia or in Hungary, it enables to present a different point of view regarding this chapter. A unique characterization in the educational program of Beit Terezin is the emphasis on a place where the cultural creativity served as means to confrontation and survival among the ghetto prisoners themselves. Ghetto Terezin is renowned for its richest artistic creativity that had been maintained amidst its walls. Thousands of paintings, poems, musical compositions, newspaper work, diaries, and memoirs constitute direct and concrete testimony of this ghetto history. We present the term "creation" in its more expansive meaning, beyond to artistic creativity, a strength to initiate and act also in other sectors of life, in spite of the anxiety, mourning, distress and very hard living conditions. The family, as a focus of day-to-day living moderator of the individual, ceased to function in the ghetto, and its duties the Jewish management was asked to take over. The management was asked to take care of the habitat, daily order, food, laundry, education, health and more. The dilemmas the Jewish management had to face in confrontation with this reality are the base of the workshops discussions in classes 11-12. Dismantling of the families needed a communal solution, in conditions of severe distress, for the benefit of children, and youth on one side, and for the old ones on the other one, the difficulties and the solutions, the success and failures in care of these problems. Establishment of children homes ( according to age and languages), day care stations, old age homes, hospitals and a social aid system. The management's effort to find creative solutions, taking responsibility and self-criticism, is an educational message, which serves as an axis in the educational program of Beit Terezin.
Adjustment according to various age groups
The educational approach to various age groups finds its expression in preparing these designated workshops with adjusted programs, scopes and duration of activity. Workshops for classes 9-10, are of 6 hours and classes 11-12 of 8 hours. For all age layers there is an emphasis on experience components such as to do work in the museum and usage of original documents (diaries, newspapers, paintings, poems), films, programs supported by computer and a meeting with a survivor, an ex- prisoner of the ghetto. The specific program is adjusted to the age of those taking part in the work- shop. The dilemmas regarding the adolescent in the ghetto with all their complications in the reality of shortage and the transports, stand in the middle of the program for classes 9-10. For classes 11-12 the emphasis is on discussing the dilemmas of the Jewish self management, of parents, artists and youth movements - instructors and trainees.
Preparing the Youth, Teachers and Instructors towards their expeditions to Poland and Czech Republic
The activities maintained in the Educational Center towards the journeys to Poland and the Czech Republic include:
Workshop for teachers, instructors and youth who will participate in the instructional journey To the locations of ghettos and the camps in Poland and Czech Republic.
A preparatory seminar for high-school pupils, for students, teachers and the groups accompanying personnel towards the joint journey to Poland and Czech Rep. - The educational Center - Beit Terezin together with Givat Haviva Heritage - offer a mutual educational activity (two or three days). The program is focused on Jewish life in ghetto Terezin and ghetto Warsaw, while illuminating the Jewish light before the war and emphasizing the mutual fate in extermination camps.
In the 1999/2000 school year we have maintained for the first time an advanced study of eight meetings, for teachers accompanying the youth groups to Poland. In the advanced study for teachers the themes connected with the history of Holocaust were discussed, as well as dilemmas of resistance, the dilemma of Jewish leadership, the family and the individual. Special emphasis was put on the aims of these journeys, the importance of the ceremonies and the influence on the youth upon their return back home. The role of the teacher-escort - in preparing the groups, during and after the journey - this theme was one out of various ones to be discussed in the advanced study workshops. Also were discussed the themes regarding the hours after the programmed visits, that is, the stay in hotels or some other free activities. The next year a new advanced study is planned, including 12 meetings. These meetings are organized mutually with 'Amal' chain. Teachers and the youth groups accompanying instructors to ghetto Terezin pursue designated advanced studies.
The Educational Center offers guidance to teachers and instructors who need some help in preparing the texts.
These instructors who are interested, can apply and get a list of children perished in the Holocaust, drawn from the computerized data base of Beit Terezin. Their names are being read in a ceremony in Birkenau as a personal perpetuation - "Each Person Has A Name".