On 27 June – 1 July, an international seminar on “Learning about Human Rights, Social Justice and the Holocaust” was held in Vilnius, Lithuania, with the participation of thirty-six teachers and educators from Lithuania.
Teachers, educators, and museum professionals from all over Lithuania participated in the seminar on human rights’ violations and the Holocaust. At the opening of the event Mr.Tamir Waser, Deputy Ambassador at the Embassy of the United States of America in Vilnius, Oana Nestian – Sandu, Head of International Education Programs at the Olga Lengyel Institute (TOLI), Ramūnas Skaudžius, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports, Ronaldas Račinskas, Head of the Secretariat of the International Commission, and Ingrida Vilkienė, Deputy Head of the Secretariat – Coordinator of Education Programmes, Ruth Reches, Principal of the Vilnius Sholom Aleichem Gymnasium, talked about the importance of the education on the Holocaust in Lithuania and globally.
The seminar’s program included lectures, methodological workshops with discussions, excursions, meetings, and discussions on the Holocaust. Lecturers from Lithuania and abroad participated in the seminar. The lecturer, Dr. Lara Lempertienė, introduced the audience to Jewish traditional festivals and presented historical sources that tell how Jews tried to observe their traditions while imprisoned in ghettos and concentration camps during the Holocaust. During a tour of the Old Town of Vilnius, our guide Yulik Gurvitch introduced the educators to the history of the Jews of Vilnius, looking at the arrival of Jews in Lithuania, life in Vilnius in the 18th – 20th centuries, and the Holocaust period.
Prof. Saulius Sužiedėlis, visiting from the USA, and Chairman of the Subcommittee on the evaluation of the Nazi occupation regime and the Holocaust, spoke about the specifics of the Holocaust in Lithuania. Dr. Vadim Altskan, a historian from the Holocaust Museum in Washington, spoke on the Holocaust in Europe and the ghettos that operated in the Nazi-occupied territories. The participants had the opportunity to hear a story of a Holocaust survivor, Assia Raberman, and to have a lively conversation with Silvia Foti. Silvia is a teacher and journalist from the USA, who is a granddaughter of Jonas Noreika, and whose book “Vėtra Lietaus Šalyje / Storm in the Land of Rain” was published in Lithuania in 2021.
The participants of the seminar learnt more on the history of the Holocaust by visiting the Holocaust exhibition at the Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History in Pamėnkalnis Street and the Paneriai Memorial – the largest mass murder site of Jews in Lithuania.
The methodological activities and recommendations were presented by Oana Nestian – Sandu – (TOLI) International Education Programme Manager, lecturer Katarzyna Łaziuk from Poland, and Ingrida Vilkienė – Education Programme Coordinator of the International Commission.
The International Seminar was organized by the TOLI Institute (USA) in cooperation with the Secretariat of the International Commission, the Jewish Community of Lithuania, and the Vilna Gaon Jewish History Museum. The seminar was partially funded by the Goodwill Foundation.