The money, from the Koret Foundation, impacts programs already in use by hundreds of Michigan teachers.

Featured photo courtesy of USC Shoah Foundation

More than 600 Michigan teachers will soon have access to new resources for teaching students about the Holocaust through music.

The teachers are a part of 25,000 educators and 8 million students around the world who currently use online educational resources from the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation. A new $10 million grant to that foundation aims to combine survivor testimony, technology and music to change the way the Holocaust is taught in both primary and secondary schools.

The money comes from the Koret Foundation, a private foundation based in San Francisco focusing on Jewish education and will be distributed to the USC Shoah Foundation in partnership with the Hold On To Your Music Foundation – an organization that uses music education to teach the Holocaust.

Founded by concert pianist Mona Golabek in honor of her mother Lisa Jura, a child Holocaust survivor, the Hold On To Your Music Foundation has provided multimedia materials for educators and students since 2003. The new grant will fund the organization’s work, primarily telling Jura’s own story.

“This transformative partnership with Hold On To Your Music will allow students to learn about Holocaust survival in a different light,” Dr. Claudia Ramirez Wiedeman, director of education for the USC Shoah Foundation, told the Jewish News. “We are keeping these types of stories alive by keeping them accessible in various formats.”

Wiedeman says teachers learn about their programs through partnerships, outreach on social media and the network Discovery Education, which is a curriculum resource for K-12 classrooms worldwide.

Teachers can access all the free educational resources on the USC Shoah Foundation’s website.

A teacher using the USC Shoah Foundation’s educational resources in her classroom. USC Shoah Foundation

Amy Bielat, who teaches 10th grade English at Hamtramck High School, has used the USC Shoah Foundation’s resources for four years and says she’s looking forward to the release of Hold On To Your Music’s curriculum.

“I believe that this can create another layer to allow students to connect to the lessons,” Bielat told the Jewish News. “Music is a great way to connect students with the topic because many students are auditory learners.”

The new curriculum will also work with the USC Shoah Foundation’s free educational website IWitness, which focuses on interactive experiences for students.

“My favorite thing about the materials is that students can see real people talking about their firsthand experience,” said Kelly Eddy, a 10th and 12th grade teacher at Churchill High School in Livonia who has used the USC Shoah Foundation’s programs in her classes for six years. “It is often heartbreaking testimony, but the overall message is one of survival and strength, and my students need to hear that.”

Eddy teaches Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History and Accelerated Humanities.

“I am grateful to the Shoah Foundation for preserving this testimony so that future students will still be able to hear a firsthand account of survival,” she said. “I think the most important lesson our students can learn is that when you stay silent, you are approving of what is happening. Silence can be as damaging as any kind of violence.”

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