A fifth-grade student’s controversial school essay on Adolf Hitler Tenafly, New Jersey, led the district to work with a global human rights organization to raise community awareness of the Holocaust.
The Holocaust education program will begin on July 12, after a school paper that seemed to praise Hitler sparked the anger of the entire Tenafly last month. In the report, fifth-grade students used phrases such as “I’m popular” and “I’m great, isn’t it?” The shape accommodates pure leaders.
“My greatest achievement is to unite a large number of German and Austrian people behind me,” the article wrote, before adding that Hitler was responsible for the murder of 6 million Jews.
The report of the fifth-grade students was released after a teacher at Maugham Elementary School asked the students to write biographies from the perspective of historical figures who “personified good and evil.” Then this article was displayed on the school wall for a few weeks, and then a caring parent took a photo on Memorial Day weekend, Tonhe Washington post Report.
Soon after, parents and community members in Tenafly Bergen County began to call and write to school officials, demanding responsibility for reports that many believed to be insensitive. According to NorthJersey.com, in response, the school district launched an investigation in June and gave fifth-grade teachers and principals leave.
After the outrage, the school district and the Jewish Federation of New Jersey both stated that the report was not intended to be anti-Semitic and should not be blamed on the student’s family, but pointed out that the assigned project led to the Jewish community.
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According to a NorthJersey.com report, Tenafly’s head Shauna DeMarco said in June: “This has had a devastating impact on the students and their families involved. They are not in chaos because of their own fault.” With the increasing number of anti-Semitism incidents, members of our Jewish community have also felt very painful.”
Now, Tenafly Mayor Mark Zinna announced on Friday that the borough is launching an education program to turn last month’s controversy into a “teachable moment”.
Zinner said at a press conference on Friday morning: “Instead of arguing about what to say and what not to say, we are using this situation as an opportunity to learn.”
The Holocaust Education Program is a collaborative project between the Tenafly District and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The event will be open to the Tenafly community for free and will have a dialogue with Holocaust survivor Mark Schonwetter next week.
According to NorthJersey.com, the 86-year-old Schwetter grew up in Poland, hid in the attic, pigsty and forest with his family, and survived the massacre. His father was detained by the Nazis and murdered in a mass grave.
Michael Cohen, the eastern director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said on Friday that, in addition to speech activities, Tenafly will also present an exhibition on the history of the Holocaust in September to show that “it is serious about Holocaust education.”
Weekly newspaper The Tenafly borough was contacted for more comments, but no response was received in time.