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Looking at the Holocaust, and from there - on our lives

Aya Ben Naftaly, Director

Massuah’s educational approach is based on the assumption that exposure to the the Holocaust will inspire the younger generations to deal with questions related to the essence of humankind the People, the State, culture and education, which will, in turn, lead to questions involving personal and collective identity, relevant to their world. Our greatest challenge is to alter the attitude of young people: instead of regarding the Holocaust as a historical event, treat it as an issue that has implications on our present day life, and mainly guide young people to examine the relevance of discussion of the Holocaust to them today.


Personification of the human dilemmas with which people dealt with during the Holocaust enables us to convert the huge numbers and generalizations into endless personal stories that concretize the many faces of human coping during the Holocaust. They depict the lives of young men and women as individuals, as families and groups trapped in the inferno: what did they know, how did they understand the events, what did they do, what were their alternatives, did they have a chance, and if so – what was it, how did they reach decisions, what were the moral dilemmas that preoccupied them, what happened to the family unit, what were the mutual relationships of the inmates of the death camps? They also raise questions about the character of the executioners, focusing on their processes of choice, and that of the collaborators and the bystanders.


The seminars which Massuah conducts bridge between history and memory by discussing Jewish, Israeli and human identity. In the workshops, museum activities, and multimedia centers we seek to uncover not only the events and how they happened, but also to discuss issues related to the significance of the memory of the Holocaust. Scrutinizing the choices that people made in another period stimulates young people to devote thought to the complexity of good and bad, the choices they have as individuals, their accountability towards themselves and others, and their identity. Our approach encourages openness and makes it possible for the participants to raise questions, and give meaning to their familiar world.


The Massuah Institute specializes in developing original educational programs on the Holocaust, while adopting a multidisciplinary approach that combines the humanities, social sciences and culture. The Institute’s teaching methods includes an interactive museum, multimedia centers, meetings with Holocaust survivors, the cinema as an interpreter of the period, the study of testimonies of Holocaust survivors, theoretical workshops, and discussion of the representation of memory through workshops devoted to the plastic arts.

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