Julie Frankel aims to promote Holocaust education in the classroom

BY JILL KASSANDER

SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

Many Missouri schools do try to bring Holocaust education into their classrooms. The challenge is often the lack of materials, curriculum and educators who feel they can teach the subject. B’nai Amoona member and school counselor Julie Frankel says she believes she is the only Jew at Commons Lane Elementary School. She is also one of the very few Jews in Ferguson-Florissant School District.

Frankel knew the sixth grade-students learned about the Holocaust by reading the 1990 Newbery Award Medal Winner Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. The historical fiction book tells the story of the saving of Denmark’s Jews. Frankel felt the book provided a great start but didn’t really give the students a good background on the history of the Holocaust.

“The book tells the story of resistance and survival, yet it doesn’t really explain how the situation evolved,” Frankel said. “I felt it was my responsibility as a Jew to give the students the background and put the story in context for the times.”

She developed a course of study over the years to build up the Holocaust curriculum. It includes a power point presentation and teaching materials which give a general background on World War II and the Holocaust. Students see age appropriate films and visit the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center. Frankel’s lessons begin with Holocaust studies and then go on to teach lessons on diversity.

“It is important for students to learn the lessons of the Holocaust in terms of its reality, its history and its impact on today,” Frankel said. “Students can learn those lessons are still relevant today when we have discussions about bullies and bystanders which they can understand first hand.”

Sign up for Your Morning Light