2015-09-30 / Home

Camden Bishop to discuss Holocaust education at Temple Emanuel service

Voice staff

THE MOST REV. DENNIS J. SULLIVAN…will discuss Holocaust education in Catholic schools at Temple Emanuel. THE MOST REV. DENNIS J. SULLIVAN…will discuss Holocaust education in Catholic schools at Temple Emanuel. For more than 20 years, public schools in New Jersey have mandated the teaching of Holocaust and genocide education, helping hundreds of thousands of students to understand the roots and dangers of prejudice. And while such lessons have long been included in the curriculum in Camden diocese schools, a new initiative by Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan will place greater stress on exposing parochial students to more impactful lessons—including speakers, materials and programs offered through the JCRC’s Goodwin Holocaust Museum and Education Center (GHMEC).

Bishop Sullivan will detail the plans during a special Shabbat service 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 at Temple Emanuel in Cherry Hill. He is looking forward to celebrating Shabbat with the congregation, said Father Joseph Wallace, diocese director of Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs.

“The Bishop wants to make sure that future generations of South Jersey children never forget the Holocaust and to make sure that all people’s rights to human dignity are protected,” said Wallace, the pastor of Notre Dame de la Mere Parish in Wildwood.

Wallace, who has forged close ties to the Jewish community through his longtime work with the Catholic- Jewish Commission and other interfaith involvements, said the Reform congregation was chosen as the venue for the Bishop’s speech in honor of its 65th anniversary as well as Rabbi Jerome David’s milestone 40th year as spiritual leader. He said his own deep interest in Holocaust education was influenced by his close friendship with David, whose grandparents on both sides perished in the Holocaust.

“If I were to call anyone my rabbi, it would be Jerry David,” joked Wallace. “Knowing that both Jerry and his wife Peggy have this family history brings this so close to home for me.”

The Bishop’s interest in ramping up Holocaust education followed a visit to Jewish Federation more than a year ago, shortly after he took over the top Diocese job, Wallace said.

During that visit, Helen Kirschbaum, director of the GHMEC, recalls talking to the Bishop about the center’s resources and giving him a tour of the museum. Months later, she met up with Catholic educators and Paul Winkler, director of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, to develop Holocaust curriculum for the 28 elementary and six high schools within the six-county Diocese.

In December, she said, she and Winkler will be meeting with Catholic principals to further discuss potential curricular changes. Grant money is available to bring parochial students to GHMEC programs.

“We feel once the principals see the impact that these programs have on students, they will be more likely to be excited about integrating this into their curriculum in a more formalized way,” said Kirschbaum.

Rabbi David, who served on the Holocaust Commission during the years when Holocaust education became a state mandate, said he is honored that the Bishop chose to speak about the initiative at Temple Emanuel.

“The fact is that, early on, these children will not only be learning about the Holocaust and what happened to our people, but—by extension—it will influence their attitudes about accepting and appreciating differences,” said David. “So much hangs on education and teaching children. That’s why what the Catholic Church in this Diocese, and what this Bishop is planning to do, has tremendous meaning for me.” .

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