GLENDALE – Two organizations sought to augment their educational efforts on the Shoah. So they’re working together, with a boost from We Energies.
Collaborating in pursuit of similar goals, the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center of Milwaukee Jewish Federation and Cardinal Stritch University of Glendale have joined together to create a Holocaust education fellowship. The position was filled by Fellow Daniel Haumschild in August.
Bev Greenberg, HERC’s immediate past board chair, said Cardinal Stritch has hosted various HERC events in recent years. While working together, leaders from both HERC and Cardinal Stritch discovered gaps – opportunities to strengthen their commitments to education and diversity.
“We realized that the Holocaust as a particular subject is not taught at Cardinal Stritch,” said Shay Pilnik, HERC’s executive director. Meanwhile, HERC had a need for increased support for its own work.
“The conversation quickly moved to that mutual benefit,” said Jeff Senese, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Cardinal Stritch. “HERC would get an educator that could work in the secondary schools and with them more directly in terms of their programming. The fellow would teach our classes because we didn’t really have that in our curriculum formally.”
The partnership is benefitted by $100,000 grant from WEC Energy Group, the parent of We Energies. “I’m extremely thankful for our donor and all partners in this incredible initiative,” Pilnik said.
Allen Leverett, CEO of WEC Energy Group, emphasized the importance of learning lessons from the past.
“The partnership helps ensure that future generations will remember the Holocaust’s human and emotional toll as well as its place in history,” Leverett said in a statement.
Together, Pilnik, Senese and other organizational leaders developed details for the Holocaust Education Fellow position – the fellow would devote about 10 hours per week to teaching one Holocaust-related class at Cardinal Stritch. Additionally, about 12 to 15 hours a week would be spent assisting HERC designing teacher training workshops, providing educational lessons at middle and high schools and training the HERC educator team.
The search led them to Haumschild.
A Waukesha native and graduate of both the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and the University at Buffalo in New York, Haumschild’s interests lie within turbulent subject matter – genocide studies. While working toward his doctorate, Haumschild traveled to Rwanda to explore how education practices were regenerating solidarity and unity after the country had been previously torn apart by extreme violence.
After moving back to Milwaukee, Haumschild continued his academic work by teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Still, there was something missing.
“I certainly felt a particular lack when it came to really participating as a positive member of a community,” he said.
The fellowship with Cardinal Stritch and HERC offered him the opportunity to have one foot in academia and another in the local community, according to Haumschild. He hopes to better understand how Holocaust education can change behaviors and the ways people interact with one another.
“I’m really excited to see whether or not my own theories and concepts about Holocaust education or post-conflict education can be applied to real life situations,” he said. “I can do work that is community-centered and oriented toward practices of education, and then critically look at it as the topic for my academic work.”
HERC has a mission to inspire and educate the community using the lessons learned from the Holocaust to make our world a much more tolerant, forgiving and kind place, Greenberg said. She feels this fits the mission.
“This is nothing short of a dream position for me,” Haumschild said. “To be able to wear both hats simultaneously is a true honor.”