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Israeli schools to teach Holocaust in first grade

Education Minister Shai Piron announces plan designed with Yad Vashem which calls for Shoah studies in every grade

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

A first grader raises his hand in a classroom in Nitzan, southern Israel. (Edi Israel/Flash90/File)
A first grader raises his hand in a classroom in Nitzan, southern Israel. (Edi Israel/Flash90/File)

Israeli schools will start teaching about the Holocaust as early as first grade, according to a new plan by Education Minister Shai Piron.

Piron first spoke about his proposal, which calls for lessons about the Shoah in each of the 12 years of compulsory Israeli education, during an official visit to Poland, Channel 2 reported on Wednesday. His plan, designed in coordination with Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial museum, will be officially presented in the coming months.

Currently, students start learning in-depth about the Shoah only in the 11th grade, usually before a class trip to Poland. Annual Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies are held in schools, but there is generally little serious study about the Nazis’ annihilation of European Jewry.

The Education Ministry said lessons about the Holocaust will be age-appropriate: first-graders will not be exposed to disturbing stories or images, but rather, six-year-olds will discuss baseless hatred, tolerance for others and similar topics. Lectures will become more comprehensive in later years, according to the ministry.

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