The “Jewish Cemeteries in Education” seminar in Hungary was held in Szombathely, on 29-30 May 2022. 30 teachers from 15 towns and 22 schools took part in the seminar. They came from all over Hungary, 23 teachers from the countryside, and 7 from Budapest. It was the first Centropa seminar for 15 participants, the other 15 teachers have participated in other Centropa seminars or projects before.
The location was chosen because of one of our most active teacher colleagues from the Centropa network, Beáta Várnainé Balogh, who invited us to hold the training in Szombathely where had once been a thriving and sizable Jewish community. With the help of the Jewish Community of Szombathely we could introduce to the teachers not just Centropa resources, but also offered them an insight into the life of Jewish people of the region before the Holocaust by visiting an exhibition, going on a walking tour and visiting the Jewish cemetery. Beáta, our local contact teachers connected us with great local experts: Sándor Márkus, the president of the Jewish Community, László Mayer, archivist, Tibor Spiegler, local historian and Krisztina Kelbert, curator.
Beáta has been doing great educational work with her students in the cemetery which is exemplary and inspiring for others. Her students joined the group in the cemetery and helped the teachers to complete the exercises.
“The enthusiasm and helpfulness of the Centropa staff will be the greatest motivating factor in achieving our goals. It is good to know that you have a database behind you, an institution whose support you can count on. Thank you.”
“For me, the whole training was about the need to preserve stories (neither to take away nor to add, because through them we connect to ourselves and to the world we live in. The knowledge, the humility, the restraint with which you approached this topic was awe-inspiring.”
“Teachers need to find ways to teach the tragedy of the Holocaust in the most effective way. Here I got help and many ideas. I have made contacts and further exchanges are taking place. I have been challenged and have met enthusiastic, creative teachers. Previously we did the Krókusz project in our school and every year we commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day. It is important for ethnic children to learn about this topic. We can start a research project in our village and take care of the Jewish graves.”
“The common experience that there are many of us who consider it important to introduce Jewish culture and Jewish traditions to the students. There are many of us who share my opinion that we need to talk about the incomprehensibility and horror of the Holocaust. Another experience was listening to Sándor Márkus, the leader of the Jewish community. It was also moving and upsetting for me to visit the “Eye to eye” exhibition (although I was extremely saddened and disappointed by what I saw and read there).”
“Gaining new knowledge, inspiration for further research. I got a basis for a professional application and supporting materials for my work, opportunities to connect with other schools. Unfortunately, very few people dare to talk about minorities, racism, discrimination in Hungary. Both teachers and students have problems with this issue in their lives, yet we are afraid to talk about it. Here was an opportunity to do so.”
We want to thank our supporters, the European Commission, for making this seminar possible.