Schools in Hannover, a Jerusalem Hotel, and the Search for their Connection

A conference on anti-Semitism-critical adult education

My W. Michael Blumenthal Fellowship at the Jewish Museum Berlin on the topic Didactics of the Middle East Conflict ended in the beautiful month of May. During the past seventeen months, I have been intensively engaged with continuing education on this politically contentious and very emotionally charged topic, as well as with the question of what we as teachers of social studies or educators working outside of school systems can or should not do, in order to best approach the topic of the Near-East conflict with students (more at: www.jmberlin.de/fellow-rosa-fava-and-her-research).

Nine people sit around a table

Discussion of the participants; photo: Berivan Köroğlu

In retrospect, one of the highlights of the conference, which I organized in early April 2018 in order to bring together educators focusing on the Middle East conflict and Anti-Semitism with museum employees working in the areas of education and the Academy programs. Since the first conference in September 2017, the parameters had changed somewhat, since the opening of the Welcome to Jerusalem exhibition made the Middle East conflict an (even bigger) presence at the Jewish Museum.  continue reading


Complex, interwoven, and emotional

Experts discuss political adult education on the Middle East conflict

Various brochures lie on a table, with titles such as "Where does hatred of Jews come from?"

Many educational providers offer materials for confronting anti-Semitism pedagogically; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Nadja Rentzsch

“Emotional” and “complex” are words often used to describe the Middle East conflict and approaches to it. How should it be handled in the everyday practice of education and continuing education? This is one of the questions in my research project “Didactics of the Middle East Conflict,” which I am conducting as a W. M. Blumenthal Fellow (more about the project on the museum website).

At a university or an institute, generally there is a research colloquium full of people working on similar themes, or who at least come from the same discipline. In such colloquia, one can present new work, discuss initial findings, get feedback about dealing with difficulties, and discover stimulating new ideas. At a museum, people engage with a great variety of topics, but not with empirical research on the didactics of the Middle East conflict. And so on September 8th, I invited external experts on educational work relating to the Middle East conflict, anti-Semitism, and racism to come to the museum. We discussed teaching and learning on this subject with members of the Education Department and the museum’s Academy Programs.  continue reading


“Searching for the familiar in an alien setting”

Workshops for young refugees

Two boys writing their names on T-shirts

Whether in Hebrew, Arabic, or German, there are lots of ways to write one’s name; photo: private

What’s written in a Jewish marriage contract? As a minority, how do you secure your civil rights? And why is Hanukkah celebrated for eight days? My work as a guide at the Jewish Museum isabout how to coax stories from objects on display — but also about language. The first thing I did when I began working here about four years ago was to look up how to say “ruminants with cloven hooves” in French. You need to have this phrase at the ready if you want to explain Jewish dietary laws to a group of French museum visitors. My French didn’t help much, however, when I led the first workshops in August of 2016 for Welcome Classes.  continue reading