The Holocaust can be a difficult topic to teach and learn about. It can be even harder to assess, especially in a Jewish classroom.
How do we assess young Jews on a subject that is not just horrific, but also tends to be deeply personal? One of the main focuses in the Holocaust module is inspiring students to stand up against even the smallest injustice, so as to make sure such horrific events do not take place again. This can be summed up by the famous quotation by Edmund Burke, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’.
From this notion, the Be the Change project was conceived. In answer to the atrocities of the Holocaust, learners are urged to bring a positive change to society. The project has to be systematically planned, with the entire process documented in a final visual presentation. The learner must also write a paragraph at the end reflecting on the experience. This includes what they have learned, as well as evaluating what worked and what didn’t work in their project.
Some examples of the fantastic changes CTTH students have made over the years are: opening a street soup kitchen to feed the homeless, collecting clothing to send to victims of the cyclone in Mozambique, collecting books and toys for underprivileged children, raising money for extra murals for orphans, fundraising to support local charities, spending time with the elderly at Highlands House, and more.
This project teaches compassion, kindness and how small acts can make a difference to the lives of others. The reflections students have made stand testament to this. One student said she had learned that there are always others that have less than us in life. Not only does this mean we should be grateful for what we have, but also that we are in a position to help others however we can. Another reflected that in helping others, we can also grow and improve ourselves. More student feedback was the realisation that it is possible for anybody to make a change, and even the tiniest act of kindness matters. There are also other valuable life skills that are learned through the process: taking initiative, time management, communication, planning, and organisation. It was even said that every school should run this project.
All in all, Be the Change is an invaluable project, encouraging both kindness to others and personal growth. CTTH is excited to see the positive changes its students will bring in years to come.