Catholic School Teachers See Israel Up Close; Study Anti-Semitism & the Holocaust

New York, NY, July 22, 2010 … Catholic school teachers from around the country have concluded a nine-day trip to Israel where they studied anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and Catholic-Jewish relations.

They were part of the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) nationally acclaimed Bearing Witness Advanced program, which offers educators an opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge of the Jewish state and enhance their appreciation of the country and its history.

This year's Bearing Witness Advanced teachers represented 18 schools and colleges from California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

"Being in Israel to hear from Holocaust survivors, visit holy sites and study issues of contemporary anti-Semitism brings the learning to life for these teachers," said David Waren, ADL Director of Education. "The program helps educators gain a deeper understanding of the historical relationship between Jewish and Catholic communities, and develop the tools needed to teach about the Holocaust and modern-day issues facing Israel. On their return home, the benefits filter through to the classroom, where students receive firsthand accounts that complement textbooks and newspapers."

At Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, the teachers heard from Holocaust survivors, historians and pedagogical experts. They also visited Christian and Jewish holy sites, and met with interfaith experts. To lend a contemporary sense of Israel, the group traveled around the country, and met with authors, journalists and political analysts.

To prepare for the trip, the educators attended an introductory seminar at the College of Saint Elizabeth in New Jersey where they heard from Holocaust and anti-Semitism experts.

Since its inception, Bearing Witness has trained more than 1,000 Catholic school educators across the country. In 1998 it became an ADL nationally sponsored program and ADL regional offices began replicating the initiative in 2002. Bearing Witness is endorsed by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.