August 21, 2003
Catholic Teachers Learn About Holocaust
Fourth-grade teacher Humberto De La Rosa had never heard of the term "anti-Semitic." Like most of his students at St. Malachy, a Catholic school in South Los Angeles, which is 75 percent black and 25 percent Latino, the educator had little contact with Jews. De La Rosa was able to expand his limited knowledge of Judaism at the Bearing Witness Institute, a conference for Catholic educators that addressed anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and current issues of prejudice.
Sixty local Catholic school teachers gathered inside the Claretian Renewal Center in Los Angeles, June 23-25, where they heard from rabbis, Holocaust survivors, Jewish historians, experts from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Catholic clergy. The program was presented by the ADL in conjunction with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Department of Catholic Schools. In addition, the teachers participated in interactive workshops on teaching the Holocaust to their students and being mindful of prejudice. For many, the highlights were visiting Wilshire Boulevard Temple and the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.
Sister Genevieve Vigil, a middle school teacher at St. Peter & Paul in Wilmington, said the conference challenged her understanding of the Jewish foundations of Christianity.
"We read 'The Diary of Anne Frank' in our eighth-grade classes," Vigil said. "Now I have a much more solid understanding of the Holocaust and the skills to present it at an age-appropriate level."
Another goal of the program is to improve communication between the two religious groups.
"The hope is for an improved Catholic-Jewish relationship," said Marjan Keypour Greenblatt, associate director of the ADL's Pacific Southwest Region and director of the Bearing Witness Program.
For more information about the Bearing Witness Institute, visit www.adl.org/bearing_witness . -- Sharon Schatz Rosenthal, Education Writer
Special-Needs Camp Breaks Record
Camp Avraham Moshe, a Southern California day camp for Jewish youth with special needs, reached its highest enrollment with a total of 27 campers this summer. The Etta Israel-run camp accommodated seven more campers than last year's program, which is significant growth for the area of special needs.
During the month-long program's sixth summer, Avraham Moshe operated out of the Yeshiva University of Los Angeles girls' school campus on Pico Boulevard. The coed program allowed youngsters age 10-22 to participate in a number of camp activities, including field trips to Disneyland, the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Los Angeles Zoo.
"The mission of Etta Israel is inclusion -- that everyone in the Jewish community is important," said Dr. Michael Held, executive director of Etta Israel. "Summer camp should not be any different. Jewish youth with special needs deserve a camp where they can have a great time, go on field trips, make new friends and grow as individuals."
Etta Israel will continue to develop options so that families with special-needs children can have access to a range of programs.
For more information about Camp Avraham Moshe, visit www.etta.org . -- SSR