• Select category:

Jump to:

California Empowers Teachers to Counter Antisemitism and Hate 

From June 23-26, 2024, dedicated teachers from across California gathered in Los Angeles for the second annual Summer Institute of the California Teachers Collaborative for Holocaust and Genocide Education. This groundbreaking event, organized by the JFCS Holocaust Center in partnership with The USC Shoah Foundation, brought together educators from 51 California school districts. 

Liz Igra, Holocaust survivor and Founder of Central Valley Holocaust Educators’ Network facilities a workshop on the Role of Media in Mitigating or Perpetuating Hatred at the second annual Summer Institute.

Through expert-led workshops, moving testimonies, and rich primary sources, the institute equipped teachers with effective tools to build critical thinking skills and address antisemitism and hate in their own classrooms and communities. 

In a post-institute survey, 98% of teachers reported the curriculum and instructional strategies presented were relevant for their classrooms, and 87% of teachers reported a significant growth in their confidence to teach about the Holocaust and genocide.  

What I’m taking back to my class is hope, love, resilience. This year I’ll be teaching an ethnic studies course, and the Summer Institute really equipped me with great strategies to do this work and continue to grow with my students.

LaMonika, ABC Unified School District, Los Angeles

Opening Remarks at the Second Annual Summer Institute Include Encouraging News

The immersive, four-day Summer Institute was kicked off with inspiring opening remarks from Senator Henry Stern, representing California District 27. Stern, a member of the Legislative Jewish Caucus and a fierce advocate of Holocaust and genocide education, delivered the encouraging news that the California budget—completed just the night before—had allocated five million dollars to fund the Collaborative through 2029.  

“I believe you will move mountains. I believe you already are through your collaborations and the work you’re doing here.” 

Senator Henry Stern  
Senator Henry Stern speaks with Edith, a survivor of the Rwandan Genocide, after giving the opening remarks at the second annual Summer Institute.
Senator Henry Stern speaks with Edith, a survivor of the Rwandan Genocide, after giving the opening remarks at the second annual Summer Institute.

A Comprehensive, Diverse Educational Experience 

The four-day Summer Institute featured workshops and panels, testimonies from survivors of the Holocaust, Rwandan, and Cambodian Genocides, and a visit to the Museum of Tolerance. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond gave closing remarks, emphasizing the critical work that educators do, and the need to better support them through initiatives like the California Teachers Collaborative. 

The event’s robust schedule included sessions that explored Holocaust and genocide studies; centering topics such as media literacy, patterns of genocide, and underreported atrocities, including: 

  • Encountering and Combating Antisemitism in the Classroom in a Post October 7th World 
  • The Uyghur Genocide: An Underreported Human Rights Crisis 
  • Navigating Critical Conversations & Fostering Civil Discourse  
  • Understanding the Complex Genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina 
  • The Role of the Media in Promoting or Mitigating Hatred  
  • Communist Genocide: Testimony from Cambodia 
  • Much More than Lives Lost: Armenian Genocide and the Risk of Cultural Extinction 
  • Beyond Maus: Using Graphic Novels to Teach About the Holocaust and Genocide 

These sessions provided educators with practical strategies to teach challenging historical and current events in an especially critical time. In doing so, the Collaborative is fostering a critical awareness among California students, who will bring these lessons in their futures. 

A Collaborative Effort for a Better Future 

The California Teachers Collaborative for Holocaust and Genocide Education is a first-of-its-kind statewide network that unites California’s 14 leading institutions for Holocaust and genocide education as well as community leaders from diverse ethnic groups across the state. 

Through standards-aligned lesson plans, teacher training, and a wealth of educational resources, the Collaborative empowers and unifies educators in teaching the lessons of history and about what happens when bias goes unchecked. The CA Collaborative has reached more than 1,500 CA teachers since its inception.  

second annual summer institute

As one teacher participant stated, when asked about their main takeaway from this experience, “Change is possible.”