My (Jewish) Education

by | May 8, 2024 | Deep-ish Dive | 0 comments

I was one of the first high school students to take the first high school course on genocide over ten years ago.

It was a dream of overwhelming accomplishment for my history department. It was meant to become a shining example of education, where we, the younger generation, would fully understand the steps of genocide, the failure to act, and what we can do to ensure it never happens again.

In light of Yom HaShoah two days ago, I reflected on my education 12 years ago and wondered: What went wrong?

Looking at American data from 2023, one in five young Americans believe the Shoah was a myth.

It’s no better here in Canada; one in five young people in Canada either hasn’t heard of the Holocaust or isn’t sure what it is.

Perhaps I was naïve all those years ago when I thought this would be the most excellent tool ever to combat hate, especially antisemitism, because, of course, I was the only Jewish student in the class.

Yet even then, I found the same ignorance in that class that we Jews are now encountering on a massive scale.

“Why didn’t your people fight back, Tyler?”

“Why did they allow themselves to be slaughtered?”

“There are other larger genocides in history; why are we only focused on the Jewish one?”

Of course, being a young Jew in high school, I didn’t yet have the answers; Jewish education-wise, I was still a novice, and I found it hard to articulate why educating those on my people’s suffering was essential to prevent genocide.

The most excellent tool of success for the antisemite is an uneducated Jew, whether they are underprepared or simply blissfully ignorant.

As I watch the despicable rates of antisemitism, violence, and intimidation against Jewish students in universities, high schools, and yes, even elementary schools, I’ve wondered to myself, where have we gone wrong in combatting this evil hatred?

It is a double-edged sword; for me, antisemitism is not a Jewish problem; it is a non-Jewish problem to solve. We don’t cause our hatred; those who hate us do, and it is the responsibility of their peers to confront them.

Yet, I also recognize that we can’t wash our own hands of responsibility as Jews. We have allowed those to define our hatred for their interests, allowing those who hate us to dismiss our valid claims of feeling unsafe, especially in the school system.

Even more so, we must educate the younger generation, Jewish children, on their Jewish identity, to be proud Jews and to recognize what antisemitism is and how we confront it.

Now with October 7th being the largest massacre of Jews since the Shoah and the resulting antisemitism that would make the Nazis blush with joy, the importance of Jewish education is more than necessary for Jewish youth; it means survival.

This article shares INSIGHTS into the types of topics we teach in our online high school courses.

Have we peaked your curiosity to learn more about our virtual school?

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