Morristown, N.J. (April 21, 2015) – Dozens of educators from across New Jersey attended a full-day workshop focused on rescuers during the Holocaust at the College of Saint Elizabeth on April 21, 2015 in Annunciation Center. The workshops, offered annually at CSE, fulfill requirements for professional development hours as required by the State of New Jersey for public school teachers.
The morning began with an impassioned talk by Dr. Suzanne Vromen, a Belgian native who lived under Nazi occupation for a year before escaping with her family to the Belgian Congo. She conducted intensive research into the stories of children that were hidden during the occupation and the Belgian nuns that brought them into their convent.
Dr. Vromen shed light on some misconceptions that are held about the Holocaust and its victims.
"Why did the Jews not resist at the beginning?" she asked. "Because they felt that by obeying the rules, they would prevent harm to their families and community since disobedience was met with harsh punishment."
She compiled her research into a book titled Hidden Children of the Holocaust: Belgian Nuns and Their Daring Rescue of Young Jews from the Nazis (2008, University Press). Her keynote speech chronicled many of the stories she collected during her research.
Jan Sacks-Wilner and Marcy Leaming are two eighth-grade co-teachers who traveled from Ewing Township to the workshops. They both teach about tolerance and the impact of intolerance through reading novels. Their interest in this workshop was about the rescuers.
"Not much is known about the people who took the risks to save lives," says Sacks-Wilner. "I will be giving our students Dr. Vromen's book. I think that they will understand more about the subject when they can read about the personal stories, not just the history."