Firsthand Holocaust education keeps slipping further away. What does that mean for its future?

March of the Living in Poland in 2016. (Photo courtesy of Gordon Roemhild/Wikimedia Commons)

In 2019, 70 Holocaust survivors joined the March of the Living trip to Poland. In 2022, that number plummeted to eight. Separately, but relevantly, Israel recently announced it would stop sending students on school trips to concentration camps in Poland, in the wake of Poland’s memory laws prohibiting educators from talking about Polish involvement in the Holocaust.

The conclusion is clear: we’re coming into an era where contact with the Shoah’s primary sources—the actual people and actual places—is quickly diminishing. What will that mean for the future of Shoah education, Jewish communal identity and Jewish collective memory? What challenges does it pose? What opportunities might it open up?

To ring in Holocaust Education Week and dissect these two topical issues, we’re joined by two guests. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, the chief curator of the core exhibition at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw and a professor emerita at New York University, comes on the show to discuss the future of heritage tourism. After that, author Nathan Englander reads an excerpt from his short story, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank”, and discusses its relevance today. Phoebe Maltz Bovy guest hosts.


Bonjour Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold, Ilana Zackon and David Sklar. Zachary Kauffman is the producer and editor. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Socalled. The show is a co-production from The Jewish Learning Lab and The CJN, and is distributed by The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.