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Bringing History to Life

Combined Jewish Philanthropies Helps Make History Palpable

In Her Classroom, Melrose High School History Teacher Kim Hubbard ’14 (MAT-History) Brings the Past to Life

“Students need to see that so much of what we’re experiencing now— as a nation and as individuals— has already happened to varying degrees,” Kim Hubbard ’14 says. “This knowledge helps students to shape their world in positive ways.”

She credits the teacher education programs at Salem State University’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies with giving her effective methods, such as firsthand accounts and engaging activities, to make some of history’s most difficult chapters relevant and real in the classroom.

The center empowers students, educators and communities across the region to combat racism, prejudice, ethnic hatred, and abuse of authority— the root causes of mass violence and atrocities. It achieves this through wide-ranging educational programs, including the workshops that benefit Hubbard and hundreds of other teachers each year. Making much of this work possible is Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), Massachusetts’ largest nonprofit organization and a key funder since the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies launched at Salem State in 2012 when it merged the collections and programs of the former Peabody-based Holocaust center.

“Teaching the lessons of the Holocaust and other atrocities to students and educators is critical in ensuring that future generations will understand the consequences of hate in its many forms,” explains Rabbi Marc Baker, CEO of Combined Jewish Philanthropies.

“This work has a tremendous bearing on our country now—so many are feeling pain, hurt and anger as a result of systemic racial injustice,” he continues. “It’s incumbent on us to listen to and learn from victims of injustice—past and present—and act to repair our world. We believe in and are really grateful for the center’s work.”

Community educators participating in the teacher education programs provided

According to Professor Christopher Mauriello, the center’s director, CJP helps Salem State to sustain the center’s far reach and impact.

“We’re outward facing to the community, not inward facing,” Mauriello says. “We like to encourage and sustain change by sharing cutting-edge scholarship and imparting new knowledge and pedagogical methods to teachers and students that creates change in the classroom. The ripple effect is that one teacher educated in our program brings that curriculum or lesson plan to hundreds of teachers and students in their school district. We’re so grateful that CJP champions this work through their unwavering charitable contributions.”

Building on these successes, Mauriello and his colleagues have a shared vision to grow the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies into a regional professional development hub for Holocaust and genocide education, among other expansion goals, ensuring teachers like Hubbard will continue to take advantage of the center’s expertise. “Unless history is made real, it’s almost impossible to really grasp,” Hubbard says. “Through every learning opportunity it offers, the center gives teachers excellent content that will be concrete and personal to students’ lived experiences. Professor Mauriello and his colleagues at the center are adept at addressing difficult topics like the Holocaust and World War II in ways that will mean something to students. That’s extraordinary and greatly needed.”

Rabbi Baker agrees, noting, “Both Salem State and CJP want to create a thriving, vibrant community that is educated and values driven, and that develops in people a sense of their history and identities—with the greater purpose to contribute to a just world.”