What Makes Our Programs Different
The Ninth Candle’s educational programs for students and professional development programs for teachers have six unique characteristics that set them apart.
1. We are committed to using nonaggressive language
Too much American Holocaust education takes hate as its starting point – a desire to trace it through history and to fight it in the present. Our programs start from a desire to share knowledge. Antisemitism is often treated as an adversary that must be “combatted” or “tackled.” We expose its internal contradictions and treat it as a flawed idea that must be ended. This commitment to nonaggressive language helps us to ease tension in an era of political partisanship.
2. We do not use pop culture works as teaching tools
Schindler’s List, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and other works like them are all classroom staples. Their depictions of Jews can reinforce the myths that they went silently to their deaths, and that the Nazis were driven less by ideology than ruthless efficiency. The Ninth Candle does not use pop culture works in its programs, and we try to help educators move beyond them as teaching tools. In their place, we help to engage students and teachers with source materials, scholarly literature, and a range of innovative activities based on them.
3. We tailor each program to the needs of every school we visit
Online libraries of free, “one-size-fits-all” lesson plans about the Holocaust have become too large. They imply that the subject can be taught in the same way at every school, and there are now so many of them that there’s no obvious place to begin. As a result, they deepen the problems they mean to solve. The Ninth Candle recognizes that every school is different. Our approach focuses less on generating content, more on forming consultative, collaborative partnerships, tailoring materials to the needs of each school, and updating them on a regular basis.
4. We like to cast spotlights on Jewish resistance during the Holocaust, and on the internal chaos and disorganization that characterized Nazism
As part of our commitment to dispelling myths, we like to cast spotlights on Jewish resistance during the Holocaust and on the internal chaos that characterized Nazism wherever we can. This helps students in particular to see the era in a new light, and it often introduces them to historical events and figures that are commonly overlooked.
5. We treat antisemitism as more than just a “Jewish concern”
We treat antisemitism as a symptom of bigger societal failures. This approach requires us to embrace and promote a diverse range of experiences, ideas, and perspectives in our programs.
6. We believe that nonprofits and Jewish organizations must collaborate with each other, in order to achieve common goals
The Ninth Candle believes that there is no quick or easy way to improve Holocaust education in America. We do not claim to have all the answers. Wherever we go, we aim to help schools to form lasting partnerships with other nonprofits and Jewish organizations in their area.