Gandel Holocaust Program alumni zoom together to ‘never forget’

In October 2020, more than 230 alumni of the Gandel Holocaust Program alumni, representatives from Yad Vashem and special friends and dignitaries from around the world, gathered together on zoom, to share their Holocaust learnings, exchange ideas and initiatives, and re-commit to continue working to ensure the world ‘never forgets’.

Like many things this year, COVID prevented the 2020 graduates of the Gandel Holocaust Studies Program (GHSP) for Australian Educators getting together face to face, for their graduate reunion and presentation of educational projects. Instead, the gathering of teachers and partners from across the country and around the world was virtual.

Yael Eaglstein, Educational Supervisor of the Gandel Holocaust Program at Yad Vashem opened the graduate reunion and welcomed the many friends and dignitaries, including John Gandel AC and Pauline Gandel AC, Dr Tibor Shalev-Schlosser Ambassador-in-charge (Israel to Australia), Shaya Ben Yehuda from Yad Vashem, Rabbi James Kennard, Chairman of the Selection Committee of GHSP, members of the B’nai B’rith Raoul Wallenberg Unit, the Jewish Holocaust Centre, members of the Victorian Department of Education, David Southwick MP and Hayley Southwick, Josh Burns MP and many more.

The 35 most recent graduates (2020) of the GHSP shared their Holocaust projects and explained how they have embedded Holocaust education into their schools’ curriculum.

Gandel Program 2020 alumni teachers presented their school projects

Holocaust survivor from Lithuania and now a proud citizen of Israel, Dani Gold shared his life story with the audience, captivating everyone with his memories of family tragedy and other struggles, followed by how he flourished in Israel.  What a privilege.

Another highlight of the session was the candle lighting ceremony which concluded the event. Eight teachers and their students, representing every State and Territory across Australia, lit a candle and shared the importance of ‘remembering the past’ and how to use the story of the Holocaust to remember and ‘shape a better future’.

Participants also heard that the winner of the 2020 Gandel Award for Excellence in Holocaust Education was teacher Duanne Galle, from Banora Point High School in NSW, in recognition of his “continuing efforts in promoting, developing and delivering Holocaust education initiatives.”

The Gandel Holocaust Studies Program for Australian Educators is a long-term professional-development program, providing selective teachers across Australia, the opportunity to learn how to teach the Holocaust and its universal implications using an interdisciplinary and age-appropriate approach. This program provides these teachers with practical, methodological teaching tools that convey not only the importance of remembering the past, but how to help shape a better future.

The Program begins with an online course providing historical background on pre-war Jewish history, followed by an 18 day teacher-training seminar at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. The full-year program continues with the delivery of educational projects in teachers’ schools, a follow-up seminar in Australia and ongoing professional exchange about issues in Holocaust education.

To date, nearly 350 educators across Australia have completed this course and are continuing to apply their Holocaust knowledge to tens of thousands of students across the country.

The Gandel family has been a long-standing supporter of Yad Vashem over many years and for a broad range of activities. In recognition of past support and the family’s ongoing commitment to Yad Vashem, the program was named the Gandel Holocaust Studies Program for Australian Educators. Key partners in the program include The Australian Foundation for Yad Vashem and the Raoul Wallenberg Unit of B’nai B’rith Victoria.

In recent years, a number of other supporters and partners have come on board, including the Jewish Holocaust Centre, Sydney Jewish Museum, Courage to Care Victoria, and B’nai B’rith NSW.