April 02, 2007


Today begins the celebration of Passover. There are a lot of different themes and images and stories bound up in the celebration of this holiday. One is a theme of remembrance as you commemorate the time spent as slaves in the land of Egypt. Remembrance, for a Jew, for anyone really, is critical. If you do not remember the key events in your shared/collective past, than your current shared identity morphs in ways that cannot be controlled, as it should be, by a reference to the anchor of history. History is critical.

This is why, on the eve of Passover, this story out of England is so troubling:

Teachers are dropping controversial subjects such as the Holocaust and the Crusades from history lessons because they do not want to offend children from certain races or religions, a report claims.

A lack of factual knowledge among some teachers, particularly in primary schools, is also leading to “shallow” lessons on emotive and difficult subjects, according to the study by the Historical Association.

The report, produced with funding from the Department for Education, said that where teachers and staff avoided emotive and controversial history, their motives were generally well intentioned.

“Staff may wish to avoid causing offence or appearing insensitive to individuals or groups in their classes. In particular settings, teachers of history are unwilling to challenge highly contentious or charged versions of history in which pupils are steeped at home, in their community or in a place of worship,” it concluded.[an error occurred while processing this directive]

However, it was concerned that this could lead to divisions within school, and that it might also put pupils off history.

Link to story.

I gather it is offensive to Muslim children to learn about the Holocaust. It is easier, I suppose, to close your eyes to a truth than it is to be forced to confront it.

This Passover, I choose to remember. I choose to remember that Jews were once slaves in the land of Egypt. I choose, moreover, to remember that on the first night of Passover in 2002, a Palestinian homicide bomber walked into a Seder and killed 30 people, many of them survivors of the same Holocaust that has now become too sensitive a subject to teach to the children of that bomber's co-religionists.

I remember.

Tonight, I will tell the story of Passover again to my children so that they too will remember and they too will be part of an unbroken chain of recollection stretching back 5000 years.

I will also spare a thought, a grateful and hopeful thought, that those men and women who stand ready to protect us and all the other Passover Seders taking place tonight are bored out of their minds.

Peace, my friends.

Posted by Random Penseur at April 2, 2007 09:38 AM | TrackBack

Wasn't that always a huge part of history lessons? To tell children of the bad things that happened so they remember and don't let it happen again? History will teach us nothing unless we listen and remember the lessons learned from the past. Cultures sheltered from other cultures history leads to ignorance of the world and hostility to things they don't understand.

I remember the lessons of the holocaust from school, I remember the pictures, I am not Jewish but I am human and I will never forget.

Posted by: Oorgo at April 2, 2007 11:29 AM

They too will remember and they too will be part of an unbroken chain of recollection stretching back 5000 years.

Well said, RP, and an important and noble cause. Best wishes to you and your family on this holiday.

Posted by: MCNS at April 2, 2007 12:54 PM

It's just...so scary. Dan is continually sending me links to this kind of thing. Happening all over the world, but especially mind-boggling is it's happening in countries like ours.

"George Orwell was an optimist". Indeed. :(

Happy Passover, RP.

Posted by: Amber at April 3, 2007 10:44 AM

We remember too. Happy Passover.

Posted by: Mrs. Peperium at April 3, 2007 06:35 PM