February 14, 2020

Teacher training seminar held in Mykolayiv, Ukraine

Within the framework of our pilot project Mapping the Jewish Cemeteries of Europe, co-funded by the European Commission, we already held teacher training seminars in Greece and Slovakia in 2019. These seminars have helped us to bring Jewish heritage to classrooms beyond the framework of the project itself, by enhancing educator’s practices and providing a platform for them to exchange their experiences and develop as a professional network.

We are happy to report that another teacher training event was conducted in Ukraine this week. On February 13th, experienced educators from across the country gathered in Mykolayiv for a seminar entitled “Jewish Cemetery as a Historical Source”, which was held on the campus of Mykolayiv Boarding School no.3. The event was organized by the ESJF  with the support of the Mykolayiv Department of Education and Science, as well as the Institute of Postgraduate Pedagogical  Education.

Participants were invited to share their own experiences of introducing material on Jewish heritage to the classroom. Among the presenters were curriculum development specialists Anna Sizova (Pervomaisk, Mykolaiv Oblast) and Nadiya Kolpachenko (Oleshki, Kherson Oblast), as well as Dr.  Irina Selivanova-Zerkal, all of whom have made major contributions to the preservation of Jewish heritage in Ukraine.

Also in attendance was Associate Professor Volodymyr Shchukin, who spoke about archival work and presented several of his own works on the history of Ukrainian-Jewish relations in the Mykolayiv region, along with the contribution of the Jewish community to the development of the city itself.

ESJF Chief Historian Dr. Kateryna Malakhova (a lecturer at Kyiv Mohyla Academy) and lecturer Aleksandra Fishel, put on a series of lectures and workshops for the seminar participants. Attendees learned about the main objectives and challenges of cemetery preservation, as well as how to read dates on Jewish tombstones and work with old maps. These cemeteries are not only an invaluable historical resource, but also an integral element of Ukraine’s cultural heritage. The presentations also highlighted the results of the ESJF’s work in the region: 23 of the 31 cemeteries located had never before been surveyed or documented.

For creatively inclined participants, a master class on traditional Jewish art was conducted by artist Pavlo Fishel, exploring the meaning of many traditional images and providing examples of their use in various household items.

The event concluded with a roundtable discussion and dinner prepared by the Or Menachem Mykolayiv Jewish School. Before departing, all participants received certificates and a copy of “Jews and Ukrainians: A Millennium of Co-Existence” provided by the nonprofit Ukrainian Jewish Encounter.

The ESJF is grateful to everyone who made the event possible, and would like to extend special thanks to the following people:

Everyone at  Mykolayiv Boarding School no.3, particularly its director Dr. Irina Selivanova-Zerkal; Tetiana Demidenko of the Mykolayiv Regional State Administration Department of Education and Science; and Olga Zakhar of the Mykolayiv Institute of Postgraduate Pedagogical Education.

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