ADL New York hosted its annual professional development program for Catholic school educators, ‘The Bettina (z’l) and Erwin Pearl Bearing Witness Summer Institute: Anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and Contemporary Issues,’ on August 3-6, 2015.
Bearing Witness is designed exclusively for educators from Catholic schools to learn about the long history of Catholic-Jewish relations and cutting-edge methods in Holocaust education for 21st century audiences. Bearing Witness was held at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus and the Museum of Jewish Heritage. At Fordham, our Catholic educators were treated to sessions exploring Judaism, Catholicism, and the intersection of the two. Special lectures, such as ‘Nostra Aetate and Jewish Responses’ and ‘The Future of Catholic-Jewish Relations,’ featured a Catholic priest and a rabbi presenting together.
At the Museum of Jewish Heritage, our Bearing Witness group was treated to private tours of the Museum’s core exhibition and a special session with a Holocaust survivor who shared her remarkable history as a hidden child. Our group then headed uptown to Park Avenue Synagogue, where we were treated to a synagogue tour, including the opportunity to look at an open Torah scroll up close. For many teachers, this tour was the first time they had visited a synagogue. The night continued with a unique ‘Model Shabbat Dinner Experience for Catholic Teachers,’ where the Bearing Witness group, together with ADL lay leaders, ‘broke bread’ together and enjoyed a sample “Shabbat meal” that illustrated communal gathering and celebration.