Each summer, The National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education at Seton Hill University sponsors a three-week Catholic Institute for Holocaust Studies in partnership with Yad Vashem’s The International School for Holocaust Studies, Hebrew University’s The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism and the Isaac Jacob Institute for Religious Law. The institute offers a unique opportunity for students to learn about Judaism, and the land of Israel and to visit sacred and historically important Christian sites. Designed for educators working in Catholic institutions, the program equips students to enter into serious discussion on the causes of antisemitism and the Holocaust with consideration of the Catholic perspective.
“I did not know I would find new eyes that allowed me to look at the world from a different point of view."
“Seton Hill's relationship with Yad Vashem enables our graduate students to participate in Yad Vashem's intensive three week summer program for educators,” said James Paharik, Ph.D., coordinator for the Genocide and Holocaust Studies Program at Seton Hill. “Students who are accepted study and travel in Israel and also earn three credits toward their Certificate in Genocide and Holocaust Studies at Seton Hill. In the process, they meet educators from across the United States and other countries, and hear lectures from leading scholars in Holocaust research and education. They also travel extensively throughout Israel. For many people, participation in Yad Vashem's Summer Institute for Educators is a life-changing experience.”
Genocide and Holocaust Studies program student Amy McLaughlin-Hatch lived her own life-changing experience in the summer of 2017. Inspired by her passion for Holocaust study and her teaching of the course The Holocaust and Human Behavior, high school social studies teacher McLaughlin-Hatch studied at Israel’s Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center with a group from Seton Hill University.
When asked about her trip to Israel, McLaughlin-Hatch said, “there is no place like it in the world!” Some of her adventures included visiting Independence Hall in Tel Aviv, hiking atop the mountain of Masada, and exploring the Tunnels of the Western Wall in the old city of Jerusalem. The group also met with survivors of the Holocaust throughout the trip, including the youngest survivor on Schindler’s List, Eva Ratz. The group and Ratz visited the grave of Oskar Schindler, German industrialist and Nazi who is often credited with saving the lives of many Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories located in Poland. Schindler is the subject of Steven Spielberg’s 1993 movie, “Schindler’s List.” The group heard first-hand the story of Ratz’s survival.
Most notable among her experiences, McLaughlin-Hatch heard “fascinating stories from Dr. Gideon Greif about the Jewish Sonderkommandos,” which were the work units of German Nazi prisoners in the death camps. Greif is an author and Israeli historian who specializes in the history of the Sonderkommando in Auschwitz.
McLaughlin-Hatch thanked the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education and the Catholic Institute for Holocaust Studies for the scholarship that allowed her to have this experience. Through this trip Amy made new friends from around the world that she hopes will not fade. She reflected on her experience by saying, “I did not know I would find new eyes that allowed me to look at the world from a different point of view. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of this unique country, if only for 23 days.”