Updated: Jan 30, 2022
Holocaust education has been an integral element of Dror Israel’s programming since the organization's creation- including school workshops, mobile exhibitions, community events and delegations to Poland. They teach about the history and the tragedy of the Holocaust while imploring participants to carry on the memory and the warnings. Dror Israel's educational programming about the Holocaust also tells the story of the European Dror movement.
Founded in 1917 in Poland, Dror was an educational and political Zionist youth movement whose young members were among the leaders of ghetto uprisings and partisan fighters. While the Dror movement lives on today throughout the world in the Habonim Dror youth movement, the majority of the European Dror movement perished among the 6 million lost in the Holocaust.
Nearly a century later, when Dror Israel was founded in 2006, as young, idealistic leaders committed to creating a change in Israel through education, the founding members felt a deep sense of connection to the Dror movement. They chose the name to signify their intent to create a spiritual continuation of Dror’s legacy.
The Journey to Poland
Across Israel, through schools and other organizations, 11th grade students from all walks of life are invited to travel to Poland and learn about the tragedy of the Holocaust up close with their class. Leading the way in facilitating these important and meaningful trips is Dror Israel.
Since 1995, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Dror Israel has led over 2,000 teens every year to Poland from public schools and the HaNoar HaOved youth movement. We are proud to lead the country’s largest and most diverse delegation each year, with participants who come from all parts of society- Jews of all backgrounds, Muslim and Christian Arabs, as well as those from the Druze and Bedouin communities. Over 50,000 youth in the past 25 years have been on this meaningful journey to learn firsthand about the Jewish communities who perished, the atrocities committed and the heroism of those who resisted.
Consisting of much more than the trip itself, Dror Israel’s educators facilitate a 6-month long process beginning with workshops which delve into Jewish life in the ghettos and camps. Then, in small delegations, the educators and participants embark on the powerful 7-day journey, concluding with the story of the Warsaw Uprising, illustrating resistance in the face of horror.
Gary Levy, a Dror educator who has been leading delegations to Poland for many years, stressed the importance of the program by quoting Israeli statesman Yigal Allon: “A nation that does not know its past has a meager present and a foggy future.” Dror’s Holocaust education strives to ensure that current and future generations carry with them the memories and lessons of the tragedy as well as the legacy of rebellion and heroism.
Dror Educators' Intensive Preparation to Lead Poland Delegations
Dozens of Dror educators have taken part in a course in order to become officially certified Poland trip leaders. This certification is necessary to receive authorization from the Ministry of Education to lead delegations to Poland. Maya Lamm, a Dror Israel educator originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, took part in the certification course this year. Maya told us a bit about her experience with the program.
“We had about 40 people all of whom were sent by their respective youth movements to go through the certification,” she said. “It was a program run by Israel’s Youth Movement Council. The course was very in-depth. It was primarily made up of lectures by different experts in the field, discussion and text- based learning, and tours at relevant sites and museums”
“We also read a TON of historical literature, built activities that we ran for one another, and did a lot of independent research on a lot of different topics. There was as big of an emphasis on learning the historical material itself and on what it means- the responsibility of being members of Israeli youth movements on journeys to Poland.”
After many Covid-19 complications, in August of 2021, the course participants were finally able to travel to Poland to see the places they would be teaching about themselves. “We went all around; Warsaw, Lublin, Krakow, Lodz and of course the camps and sites of mass graves. In each city we went to cemeteries and the places where Jewish life took place.”
Maya says for her the highlight of the course was “the interactions with the other youth movements from across the social, religious and political spectrum. The different world views gave us wider and deeper perspectives on the topics at hand.” The Dror educators who completed the course will go on to lead hundreds of Israeli teens from all walks of life through this important educational process.
Due to COVID-19, delegations to Poland have been cancelled for the past two years, Hopefully soon teens will be able to take part once again in this meaningful and important journey.