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The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) is pleased to provide high quality, academic opportunities for educators to advance their knowledge of the history of the Holocaust. Through our academic seminars and institutes, middle and high school teachers and Holocaust center staff have the opportunity to learn from world-class scholars in the field of Holocaust studies and to exchange pedagogical strategies with fellow educators.  JFR seminars and institutes aim to educate about Holocaust history both comprehensively and in depth.

Robert Jan van Pelt - Summer Institute 2014
Robert Jan van Pelt - Summer Institute 2014

Summer Institute for Teachers

The Summer Institute for Teachers examines the Holocaust from the precedents found in the history of antisemitism, to the rise of the Nazi party, the machinery of death, rescue, through to the aftermath of the Holocaust.  The first Summer Institute for Teachers was held at Clark University in June 2000. Since June 2001, the Institute has been held at Columbia University in New York City during the last week in June. The program is a high-level, intensive academic seminar in which participants are exposed to Holocaust survivors such as Roman Kent and to noted Holocaust scholars including, Doris Bergen, Volker Berghahn, Jeffrey Burds, Lawrence Douglas, Debórah Dwork, Henry Feingold, Atina Grossmann, Peter Hayes, Samuel Kassow, Michael Steinlauf, Robert Jan van Pelt, and Alexandra Zapruder. The Institute is designed to allow participants to meet in small groups following each lecture. These small groups enable participants to share teaching concepts and to develop approaches to introducing the subject matter to their students.

All participants selected to attend the JFR Summer Institute for Teachers are known as Alfred Lerner Fellows and must be nominated by one of the centers in our Holocaust Centers of Excellence Program.  In order to participate in other JFR educational programs, a teacher must be an Alfred Lerner Fellow and have remained involved with their local Holocaust center. While there is a participant fee, the JFR provides each Lerner Fellow with a significant scholarship to attend the Summer Institute for Teachers. The program is a residential program – all participants stay on the Columbia University campus.  Participants are expected to complete required readings prior to the start of the program.

The JFR Summer Institute for Teachers provides the foundation for other JFR education programs, such as the Advanced Seminar and European Study Program in Germany and Poland, which delve deeply into aspects of the Holocaust not covered by other Holocaust teacher education programs.

2014 Advanced Seminar Participants
2014 Advanced Seminar Participants

Advanced Seminar

The JFR holds its Advanced Seminar at the Hilton Newark Airport, in northern New Jersey over the birthday weekend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This three-day intensive program is open only to Alfred Lerner Fellows. The Advanced Seminar focuses on specific topics within the history of the Holocaust. Participants are expected to complete required readings and writing assignments prior to the start of the program.  The Advanced Seminar is limited to 24 Lerner Fellows who have been nominated by their local Holocaust center.  The JFR subsidizes most of the costs associated with this program.

2012 European Study Program participants in Poland
2012 European Study Program participants in Poland

European Study Program in Germany & Poland

The European Study Program in Germany and Poland offers participants an intensive educational experience. The first European Study Program was held in July 2003 and the second in 2004. The JFR then decided to offer the program every other year.  In 2015, the JFR European Study Program will spend a week in Germany and a week in Poland.

Participation is open to Alfred Lerner Fellows who have been nominated by their local Holocaust center. The two-week program, which is limited to fifteen Lerner Fellows, includes visits to concentration camps, ghetto sites, and meetings with survivors, rescuers, local historians, and teachers. Robert Jan van Pelt is the accompanying scholar for the European Study Program. Participants are expected to complete required readings prior to the start of the program.

The journey ends in Auschwitz, where the group spends four days visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau and examining documents in the archives. Participants have the opportunity to review what they learned during their time in Germany and Poland. The program allows the group to discuss approaches to teaching the Holocaust and to reflect on their experience before departing for home. While there is a participant fee, the JFR provides a significant subsidy for each participant.

The JFR is appreciative of the generous financial support it receives from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) for the above three programs.

Mark Weitzman at NYC Teachers Programs

One-Day Seminar For New York City Teachers

JFR One-Day Seminars for New York City Teachers focus on specific topics and themes in Holocaust history.  These seminars, offered each January, are open to high school English and history teachers in the New York City metro area.

Lerner Fellows with Mr. Met at Citi Field, 2014
Lerner Fellows with Mr. Met at Citi Field, 2014

Requirements for Attending JFR's Seminars and Institutes

JFR Seminars and Institutes are open to educators who meet the following eligibility requirements and who have first attended the Summer Institute for Teachers.

To qualify for the Summer Institute for Teachers, one must:

  • be nominated by one of the centers in our Holocaust Centers of Excellence Program.
  • teach English or social studies at the middle or high school level, or work in an educational capacity at your nominating center.
  • have taught for at least five years.
  • be at least five years from retirement – this includes age retirement, leaving the field of education, or no longer teaching the Holocaust in your classroom (changing subjects).
  • currently teach the Holocaust in your classroom.
  • have attended at least one Holocaust-related professional development program.
  • agree to serve as a resource for the JFR and for the center that nominates you.

To qualify for the Advanced Seminar and/or the European Study Program, one must have completed the JFR Summer Institute for Teachers and be an Alfred Lerner Fellow.

Please see our Holocaust Centers of Excellence page for participating centers. If you have any questions about our seminars and institutes, please contact us at 1.212.727.9955, or send us an e-mail.

* The requirements listed above do not apply for the One-Day Seminar for NYC Teachers.