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January 22, 2020

Discussing the History of Antisemitism: Classroom Strategies for Awareness

Facing History offers a spectrum of lessons and resources that examine the history of antisemitism to promote awareness and mutual understanding.


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Promoting Awareness by Understanding the History of Antisemitism

As the nation reacts to the wave of antisemitic attacks that have occurred in cities including New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago in recent weeks, educators are faced with unique challenges. By creating safe spaces for reflection and questioning, by offering context and lessons from history, and by sharing examples of compassion and resistance, teachers can play a vital role in responding to acts of hate. 

Lesson Plans and Resources for the Classroom on the History of Antisemitism

Facing History invites educators to use this wealth of resources to structure reflection and learning in your classroom around these contemporary events and the histories that inform them:

1. Provide Historical Context
Use our lesson, “The Roots and Impact of Antisemitism,” featured in our seminal case study, Holocaust and Human Behavior, to introduce the long history of antisemitism. This lesson offers an overview of the origins and rise of antisemitism beginning in the Enlightenment and invites the student to consider how these developments shape current events and contemporary attitudes.

2. Connect Past to Present
Use our Teaching Idea, “Rising Antisemitism and Fading Memories of the Holocaust,” to illuminate how declining awareness of the Holocaust has accompanied an uptick in acts of antisemitic violence. The resource invites your students to consider the relationship between the two, and examine the ways in which history can be used to promote safe and just societies today.

3. Examine Contemporary Antisemitism
Our lesson, “The Persistence of Hate: What the 2017 Unite the Right Rally Revealed about Contemporary Antisemitism,” focuses on the 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, VA as a case study in contemporary antisemitism, and explores the connection between antisemitism and racism. 

4. Highlight its Prevalence
Our video featuring Rising Out of Hatred author Eli Saslow addresses the connections between contemporary antisemitism and white nationalism in the U.S., and the troubling prevalence of these attitudes beyond small groups of extremists.

5. Share Examples of Resistance
Our lesson, “Contemporary Antisemitism and Youth,” invites students to reflect upon present-day manifestations of antisemitism as they emerge online and on college campuses, and presents examples of youth who are standing up to bigotry and hate.

6. Find tools for educators here.

Kaitlin Smith writes on the history of antisemitism and shares resources for the classroom in this blog.

Written by Kaitlin Smith,a Marketing and Communications Writer for Facing History and Ourselves.

  • This article was originally published by Facing History and Ourselves and can be found here.
  • Find more resources on the fight against antisemitism and hate with Share My Lessons curated collection of lesson plans, resources and more.

Facing History and Ourselves

Facing History and Ourselvesis a nonprofit international educational and professional development organization.Its mission is to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry.

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