Holocaust Testimony and the Holocaust Witness

The Educational Context
  • Neima Barzel


Since the early 1980s, Israeli schools have customarily invited survivors on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, asking them to tell the students the ‘real story’ of what happened ‘there’. This interest also accompanies Bar mitzvah ceremonies held in Israeli secular culture, which focus upon the search for ‘roots’ as a tool for constructing communal and national spheres of belonging. Teacher training institutes include in their obligatory programmes a three-day seminar in one of Israel’s central museums for the commemoration of the Holocaust. In the course of the visit, the witnesses from ‘over there’ fulfil a significant role. Each museum has an active education department, which fosters relations with the narrator-witnesses. These witnesses are invited to the study days in the museums according to a timetable, set so that the testimony and the witness serve as catalysts to promote the students’ discussion of ‘what connects me to “that place” ‘. In some cases, the witnesses also become session moderators or the concluding speakers of the general discussion.1


Educational System Educational Context Personal Narrative Israeli Society Civil Religion 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

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  • Neima Barzel

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