With the number of Holocaust survivors dwindling each year, the need to find a different approach to remember their suffering is critical so the next generation doesn’t forget the lessons of the most horrific historical event of the 20th century.

To that end, University of Haifa has launched the Weiss-Livnat Innovation Hub for Holocaust Education and Commemoration.

The new one-year program encourages students to develop an entrepreneurial approach to developing and executing personal projects that honor Holocaust survivors and victims.

“A large number of our students go on to do museum work, research and teach, but we are also aware of the need to stimulate innovation in this field, encourage the development of technology and create new opportunities for our graduates. As such, the university decided to try something new: infuse Holocaust commemoration with a more entrepreneurial spirit,” said Yael Granot-Bein, director of the Weiss-Livnat international master’s program for Holocaust studies.

“The hub is dedicated to nurturing young people from different countries and cultures who have an idea of how to teach or commemorate the Holocaust,” she explained, “bringing passionate and creative people together, and providing them with a supportive environment in which they worked with mentors and professionals who helped them turn their vision into a reality.”

Examples of student projects include a virtual-reality experience that tells the story of Jewish children in Holland during the Holocaust; an augmented-reality smartphone app that features little known Jewish landmarks that no longer exist in Berlin, effectively recreating the robust Jewish life that existed there pre-World War II; a learning community about the Holocaust connected via a podcast and educational workshops about the Holocaust for young Europeans; and a culinary tour of Jewish Melbourne in Australia, which meanders through two historically Jewish neighborhoods in the city with a focus on bakeries established by Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors.

The innovation hub brings “Startup Nation” best practices to the discipline of Holocaust commemoration and in this way hopes to offer a novel take on teaching the Holocaust to the next generation.

The highly selective program has accepted seven students from Australia, Germany, Holland and England, most of them former graduates of the Weiss-Livnat master’s program.

© 2020 American Jewish Congress.