Beyond the Holocaust, a class in waiting

Beyond the Holocaust, a class in waiting

Congratulations to Jim Lucot, a history teacher in the Seneca Valley School District, and winner of this year’s Robert I. Goldman award from the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous. He accepted his honor last week in New York City.
That award, if you’re not familiar with it, presented by the JFR to teachers who demonstrate excellence in Holocaust education.
Now that that’s out of the way, Lucot’s recognition for his innovative method for teaching the Holocaust to his 11th-grade class at Seneca Valley High School, affords us the opportunity to raise an important point: What about after the Holocaust?
We in Jewish Pittsburgh know the story: Jewish leaders in and out of Palestine intensify their efforts to create a Jewish state … Holocaust survivors run — try to run — a British blockade … independence is declared … Arab world attacks … Israel wins … Israel goes on to build the most modern, developed, democratic state in the Middle East despite unrelenting opposition to its existence by Arab nations, and much of the world.
We think that should be part of Lucot’s class syllabus, and that of every Holocaust history class for that matter. Without it, Lucot’s students in that southern Butler County school district, whom we wager are mostly not Jewish, could be forgiven if they think Jews are perpetual victims.
Lucot told our staff writer, Toby Tabachnick, that he begins teaching the roots of the Holocaust — European anti-Semitism, starting in the 1890s. That’s a crucial element of the subject and we commend Lucot for doing it, but just as there’s a prologue to this tragic period in world history, there’s an epilogue, too.
Without the Israel, and Diaspora stories — post-1945 — taught in depth and not glossed over, how are these teenagers to appreciate that after the Holocaust the Jewish people rebuilt and achieved great things.
It’s a missing component in the lesson plan.
This is not to criticize Lucot, who does an admirable job in his class. This is a general issue with most Holocaust instruction in the public schools — it can’t just stop with the Holocaust.
The Jews of today, both in Israel and the Diaspora, are a vibrant people that have, do and will continue to contribute much to society. That needs to be understood in the context of the Holocaust.