Descendants of Holocaust survivors offer help to teach after incident at DC elementary school


Grandchildren of Holocaust survivors offer to help teach Holocaust classes in DC public schools after outrage erupts against a Watkins Elementary school staff member who allegedly had a re-enactment the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Grandchildren of Holocaust survivors offer to help teach Holocaust classes in DC public schools after outrage erupts against a Watkins Elementary school staff member who allegedly had a re-enactment the atrocities of the Holocaust.

In a letter to DC Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee on Monday, the group, known as 3GDC, responded to the controversy.

The group said the incidents reflected “an alarming increase in both anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in our country which has matched a decrease in understanding and awareness of the Holocaust and its place in history “.

3GDC President Elana Rosenfield told OMCP the group wanted to provide unique resources to the school system.

“3GDC is essentially a living branch between our Holocaust survivor grandparents,” Rosenfield said. “We are the last witnesses to them and their stores, and we have speakers trained and ready to go to schools and tell their stories in an age appropriate way so that the lessons and legacy of the ‘Holocaust will never be forgotten. “

According to the Washington Post, which first revealed the story, a school librarian asked third-graders to re-enact different episodes of the Holocaust, including having children fake shooting at victims. and dig mass graves.

She also allegedly asked a Jewish student to play the role of Adolf Hitler and made anti-Semitic remarks during the lesson.

In a letter sent to the community on Friday, Watkins Elementary School principal Scott Berkowitz said he was told of a lesson that included students “describing different perspectives on the Holocaust.”

“Students should never be made responsible for committing atrocities, especially genocide and war,” Berkowitz said.

The statement included allegations that a staff member “used hate speech during the lesson.” Although the letter did not specify these allegations or the language used, DCPS apologized.

“This was not an approved lesson plan, and we sincerely apologize to our students and families who were the victims of this incident,” the school system said.

DC Chairman Phil Mendelson urges the school system to investigate the incident.

“It has been rightly universally condemned,” Mendelson said in a statement sent earlier this week. “What’s important now is what DCPS is going to do about it.”

DC Council Member Janesse George, who represents Ward 4, tweeted that she was disturbed by the incident.

As with other cases involving potential hatred and prejudice, Berkowitz said last week’s incident was reported to DCPS ‘Central Equity Response Team.

DC Public Schools has also confirmed that a staff member at Watkins Elementary School in the Southeast has been placed on leave pending an investigation into alleged Holocaust reenactments.

DCPS officials acknowledged that the staff member had been placed on leave but did not confirm to OMCP whether the instructor had been placed on paid or unpaid leave.

Rosenfield said she is encouraged that the school system is taking action to remedy the incident, but would like her group to have the chance to speak with affected students.

“They had questions and unfortunately they were misinformed,” Rosenfield said. “We would like our speakers to actually explain what happened during the Holocaust and provide them with accurate information.”

She said the 3GDC is available to other educators interested in having the group complete their school’s Holocaust studies curriculum.



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