By Deb Silverthorn
Making history itself, the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum is teaching the past in a most present-day manner. Taking many of its current schedule and creating dozens of new programs online for guests to enjoy no matter where they are in the world.
“We are now, to much greater audiences around the country — around the world — spreading our mission to inspire hope, respect and Upstander behavior,” said DHHRM’s President and CEO Mary Pat Higgins. “It’s very exciting to see our education and programming teams spring to life and bring so much quality to our guests.”
From home, the museum’s staff is developing classes, tours, book clubs and trainings accessed by registration on its website. Daily, new digital content is being created, all available at no charge. Each event has its own registration link. Login directions are emailed to participants within a half-hour of each event’s start.
“We’re grateful for the opportunity to still welcome guests — those we’ve met before, and those for the first time, through these virtual means,” said Higgins. “Last week we had students and teachers online — many of whom might not ever have experienced our curriculum. Teachers want to engage their students and, while we couldn’t have had a plan for this situation, we are, as always, providing important and meaningful experiences.”
Virtual book clubs, teaching lessons of diversity, tolerance and empowerment are hosted. At 1 p.m., on Mondays is an iRead book club for high school students and adults. Storytime iRead for toddlers through kindergarten-age children is at 9:30 a.m. on Fridays. A Family Friendly iRead is at 1 p.m., Fridays, for students grade six through adult.
A Look into the Museum, a look into DHHRM’s permanent exhibits, is posted each Tuesday at 11 a.m. with upcoming lessons of “From Nuremberg to the ICC: Representational Justice after the Holocaust” (4/14), Holocaust Artifacts in the Permanent Exhibition” (4/21) and “Texas Upstanders” (4/28).
On Thursdays at 1 p.m. Understanding Holocaust History lectures, designed for those in high school and adults, will relay “Getting the Message Out” (4/9), “German Propaganda in Children’s Books” (4/16), “Art in the Holocaust” (4/23) and “Deportation” (4/30).
Book club programs are led by the museum’s Director of Education, Dr. Charlotte Decoster and its Chief Education, Programs and Exhibitions Officer Dr. Sara Abosch-Jacobson. The museum’s Director of Programs and Volunteers, Annie Black and educators Casey Bush and Claire Robinson and archivist Felicia Williamson lead lectures and other programs.
“More than 1000 students and teachers, from virtual classrooms in Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri and Texas took part in our first week and the response is incredible,” said Decoster. “We already had an online toolbox but now anyone can access our lesson plans and resources with new materials, and opportunities, constantly being uploaded.”
At 6:30 p.m., Sunday, April 19, a Virtual Yom HaShoah Commemoration will be streamed on the DHHRM Facebook page.
Museum staffers are recording interviews with Holocaust survivors including Max Glauben, Paul Kessler, Bert Romberg and Rosian Zerner who are regularly on-site giving lectures and meeting with the public. Now also staying safe-at-home, they are sharing through the museum’s social media accounts, how they are coping and offering advice for managing isolation.
A Flipgrid program is being developed with a curriculum focused on the Kindertransport. Magie Furst, a survivor and a regular speaker at the museum, will be provided video questions from participants and, each week, the museum will post responses to select questions.
The museum’s docent training, which already had some online components, has also moved its inperson training, and tri-weekly discussions for docent engagement, and a meeting with docents from the Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio to a virtual format.
The museum wants community members, of all ages, to share examples of Upstanders and activity that portrays its mission. Stories of kind, generous, respectful and understanding people, actions and experiences should be emailed or posted to the museum’s social media accounts with #MissionMoments #UpstanderMoment.
“Being an Upstander has never been more important,” said Higgins, “and we are proud to continue to shine a light on our history, and now on our present.”
All DHHRM programs, updated regularly at www.dhhrm.org and on its Facebook page (Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum), are free and, unless otherwise noted, will be held via ZOOM connections. Many are later posted to the museum’s website, YouTube channel (Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum) and/or Facebook page. To submit Upstander examples, or to contact the museum, email firstname.lastname@example.org.