European society is polyethnic and multicultural. This means that the history of Jewish towns and communities, as well as that of the Holocaust, is not only relevant to Jewish history, but an integral part of the history of Europe as a whole, particularly in ESJF’s project countries. We believe that understanding the impact of Jewish communities on the life of towns and regions will help young people form nuanced attitudes to cultural heritage, which, in the long run, will help promote intercultural and interfaith dialogue in a multicultural, diverse Europe.
Through ESJF’s educational outreach programmes, secondary school students are encouraged to preserve and maintain the historical memory of local Jewish communities, including cemetery sites. Focusing on local spaces emphasises not only the close connection between Jewish life and the communities in which students live today, but also serves to de-mystify cemetery sites. This is of particular importance in the areas in which, in the wake of the Holocaust, Jewish communities no longer exist, as these cemeteries may be represent the last physical testament to Jewish presence. It is therefore vital that young people learn about this material heritage and how to place it in its larger historical and socio-cultural context.
ESJF works with local stakeholders and educators to reach young people. It is our aim to reach out to the organisations already active in these regions of Europe, both Jewish and non-Jewish, in order to build on existing networks and expertise, thereby sharing and optimising pedagogical approaches. By working with national and regional Jewish communities at every opportunity, we aim to educate and inspire the next generation to protect and preserve local Jewish heritage.
Please check our “News” section for regular updates on ESJF educational activities. Currently, we are carrying out educational initiatives as part of our project funded by the European Commission in Greece, Lithuania, Moldova, Slovakia, and Ukraine.
ESJF is also reaching out to select universities in Ukraine to share our expertise in cultural heritage preservation with students of architecture, engineering, and history.