This program is a unique professional development opportunity designed to provide Catholic school educators with the training and resources necessary to teach their students about the historical relationship between Jewish and Catholic communities and the impact of that relationship on Catholic teaching, catechesis and liturgy.
Through Bearing Witness, participants explore the history of anti-Semitism, including the role of the Church during the Holocaust, recent changes in Catholic teachings on Jews and Judaism issues of prejudice in contemporary society and practical strategies for teaching students about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. Bearing Witness is a partnership between the ADL, the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and local dioceses.
In 2000, Bearing Witness was one of 15 programs across the country to receive recognition by the NCEA as a SPICE program (Selected Programs for Improving Catholic Education). SPICE is a process that identifies, validates, and systematically disseminates elementary and secondary school programs so that teachers and administrators in other schools can adopt them.
Bearing Witness is a highly visible program, as well as one of lasting importance. To expound on the knowledge gained from this program, ADL created an advanced version of this program, Bearing Witness™ Advanced.
This advanced program assembles a select group of past Bearing Witness Program participants to travel to Israel for in-depth study and enhancement of classroom content on anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. Participants deepen their understanding of the Jewish connection to Israel, modern Israeli politics, the Holocaust and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Participants hear from resident scholars and are afforded the chance to visit sites sacred to Jews and Christians.
Typically while in Israel, educators visit Yad Vashem (Israel's official memorial to the Holocaust) and hear from religious and government leaders, the head of the Catholic community in Israel, kibbutz members, an Arab Affairs Correspondent from the Jerusalem Post and the Director of the Interfaith Encounter Association. The realities of daily life are brought home with visits to the security fence and the Golan Heights.
In addition, participants are afforded the opportunity to attend Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Mount of the Beatitudes. They visit holy sites in The Galilee and throughout the Old City of Jerusalem, where they experience a tour of the Western Wall Tunnel and hear from the head archeologist of the Israel Antiquity Authority. Always a highlight is celebrating Shabbat with an Israeli family in the holy city of Safed.
Since its inception, Bearing Witness has trained over 1600 Catholic school educators across the country.