The Center for Holocaust Education of The East Valley JCC provides a unique learning experience through its virtual live tours of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, which are led live via Zoom by an Auschwitz educator in Poland.
Thanks to a grant from the Molly Blank Family Fund of the Arthur Blank Family Foundation, the EVJCC is now able to offer these tours at no cost to middle schools and high schools in the state of Arizona during the 2022-23 school year.
Due to the passage of Arizona House Bill 2241 in 2021, Arizona public schools are now required to teach about the Holocaust and other genocides at least twice between seventh and 12th grades and this tour provides an unique way to meet this requirement.
The virtual live tour uses historical footage, Holocaust survivor testimonies, panorama pictures and modern animation combined with virtual reality tools to teach about the horrors that happened in the world’s most infamous concentration camp.
During the 2021-2022 school year, more than 6,000 middle school and high school students from more than 40 schools from Arizona and across the United States attended the tours.
In February 2022, more than 4,000 high school students in the Chandler Unified School District participated in the tours over a three-day period. “Thank you so much for this,” said one teacher at Hamilton High School. “It was invaluable and very much appreciated.”
With help from Rabbi Beyo and @EastValleyJCC, our high school students opted in to experience a virtual field trip of Auschwitz & learn the historical importance of the Holocaust.— Chandler Unified School District (@ChandlerUnified) February 24, 2022
Thanks to the Chandler community for offering opportunities for our students! #WeAreChandlerUnified pic.twitter.com/obA90Zq8r3
Additionally, more than 30,000 adults from the U.S, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Israel and the United Kingdom have participated in the tours.
The content of the tour can be adjusted to fit the considerations of the audience, such as age, background knowledge and class curriculum. For example, one option incorporates Elie Wiesel’s experience at Auschwitz into the tour, based on his memoir “Night,” which is especially powerful for those students who have read the book in their class.
The tours can be presented in one two-hour session or two one-hour sessions in large groups, individual classrooms, on individual devices or a combination of all of these.
“Students were in awe. We had such a great conversation after and continue to reference what we learned on the tour,” said one Michigan high school teacher about her class tour. “It has contributed a lot of new information to our curriculum.”
One teacher in Ontario, Canada, shared comments she received from students: “Life-changing, “I didn’t realize how big the camps were” and “Makes me realize how lucky we are.”
To schedule a tour, visit holocausteducation.center/arizona-schools.