BOSTON — Two Catholic school educators from New England traveled to Washington, D.C. last month with 40 others to learn about the history of anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and recent changes in Catholic teachings on Jews and Judaism as part of the Eileen Ludwig Greenland National Bearing Witness Summer Institute.
Michael McLaughlin of Saint Benedict Academy in Manchester, N.H., joined Mary Anne Jezierski of St. Bernadette School in Northboro, Mass., in representing the region.
“The Bearing Witness program is a natural partnership between Catholic and Jewish communities in New England. The Holocaust teaches us that the dangerous escalation of hate impacts all people, regardless of faith,” said ADL New England Regional Director Robert Trestan. “The magic of this program occurs when the lessons are passed on to students, directly impacting the future voices of our community.”
As part of the five days of intensive study designed to provide participants with the knowledge and skills to teach their students about the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and issues of prejudice in contemporary society, the educators learned from experts in the fields of Judaism, the Holocaust, historical and contemporary anti-Semitism, Catholic-Jewish relations and anti-bias education.
They also visited sites across Washington D.C. including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Israeli Embassy and Washington Hebrew Congregation.
“The Holocaust is not the whole story; it is one important chapter within the wider narrative of the Jewish people,” wrote McLaughlin in a reflection on his experience. “With this new perspective and equipped with resources and teaching strategies, I feel more prepared to explore the Holocaust with students and to examine the moral imperative to do what is right, rather than what is easy.”
Since its inception in 1996, ADL’s Bearing Witness: Anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and Contemporary Issues has trained more than 1,800 Catholic school educators across the U.S. about the historical relationship between the Jewish and Catholic communities and the impact of that relationship on Catholic teaching, catechism and liturgy.