The Contribution of Educational Programs on the Experience of Soviet Jewry in the Holocaust to Selected Groups in Israel and in the FSU

Background to the Study
As part of the Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG initiative to strengthen Jewish identity among Russian-speakers in Israel and selected groups in the Former Soviet Union (FSU), a comprehensive educational project on the subject of Soviet Jewry during the Holocaust was initiated and financed by this fund and the European Jewish Fund (EJF). The assumption was that the Russian-speaking population is not familiar with the history of Soviet Jewry in the Holocaust and that exposure to this information is important for preserving Jewish heritage and enhancing the connection to the Jewish world. This educational project was implemented by Yad-Vashem and comprised during 2010-2011 about 30 different programs addressing various groups in Israel and in the FSU (such as a seminar for high-school teachers from Israel and from the FSU, seminars for high-school students at Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, mobile workshops at schools, and a course for young leaders in Jewish communities from the FSU).

The Study
As part of the project’s implementation, the GPG commissioned an evaluation study of the following eight programs implemented in 2010-11:

  1. Programs for High-School Students in Haifa – Educational Seminars for 11th-graders; Mobile Workshops for 9th-graders, and a Visual Documentation Program for 10th-graders
  2. Programs for Teachers in Haifa – a School-Level Course for teachers in two schools in the city and a Citywide Course for teachers in the field of humanities.
  3. Programs for Selected Groups Residing in the FSU – a Young Jewish Leadership Program, a program for Non-Jewish Teaching Staff and an E-Learning Course for the general public.

The goal of these evaluation studies was: 1) to examine the contributions of the program to participants, and 2) to provide information on their satisfaction with the program and its implementation.

The studies looked at two levels of contribution: 1) the cognitive level – the acquisition of knowledge on the experience of Soviet Jewry in the Holocaust, and 2) the emotional level – the impact on perceptions and attitudes to the Jewish world and the Holocaust.
In all the studies, data were collected from the participants using a self-administered questionnaire distributed at the final session of each program.

This report presents the findings from the evaluation of these eight programs, by the three major groups of participants: high-school students, teachers and selected groups residing in the FSU. In addition it includes some comparative analysis of the programs.

Uses of the study
The findings of these studies were presented to GPG representatives and Yad Vashem education staff and provided important input for improving the programs and determining directions for the development of similar educational programs in the future.

Funding
The study was funded by the Genesis Philanthropy Group, the European Jewish Fund and the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute.