From the 20-22 March, 2016, 34 educators from 19 Jewish schools and educational institutions in 16 countries attended at our seminar in Budapest. The Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (MAZSIHISZ) hosted us, and for a conference room we were given the spectacularly ornate late 19th century board room of the building, surely one of the most beautiful Jewish community meeting rooms on the continent. Aside from what our teachers studied and worked on together, there were three new developments we would like to describe.
We held a walking tour of Jewish Budapest, where our teachers came in close contact with what had been one of the greatest Jewish communities of Europe. They toured magnificent synagogues, engaged with historians, and heard about the horrors of the wartime Budapest ghetto. They also met community members and leaders, and learned something about the largest Jewish community on the continent excluding France.
We also offered two engaging discussions with CJN’s partner organizations. Mariano Schlimovich, program director of the Arachim program of JDC and the European Council of Jewish Communities, spoke of creating ever-tighter bonds between school directors and the teachers in the Centropa network. And Karen Ettinger, Project Manager for Education at the National Library of Israel, spent time with our participants, explaining how to use NLI’s growing online database of images, photos and documents.
Centropa seminar participants were invited to a private lunch hosted by the Minister of Human Resources, Zoltán Balog. Minister Balog has been following Centropa’s methodology with oral histories since 2010. The Minister also spoke positively of Centropa’s approach to empowering teachers through a peer-to-peer network, providing a platform where they can share best practices, and organize cooperation projects between educational institutions nationally and internationally alike.
The host of our seminar, Andras Heisler, President of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities also spoke at our lunch, and he can be justifiably proud of the fact that there are now three Jewish day schools in Budapest that see over a thousand students daily.