What is Coming of Age?

Coming of Age in the Holocaust, Coming of Age Now is an interactive curriculum for middle-school students and their educators. Coming of Age is designed to accommodate classes of students working as a group. Pairs of classes may also work on this curriculum together. It may also be used by families educating their children at home or by other adults working with young people independently or in groups.

As part of this curriculum, students read real stories of people their own age who lived through the Holocaust and will have the opportunity to:

  1. Hear directly from survivors, through video testimonies
  2. Answer geography and discussion questions
  3. Analyze primary documents and artifacts
  4. Explore timelines of the survivors’ lives
  5. Complete a research project

The Coming of Age curriculum includes twelve stories of Holocaust survivors and one story of an individual who grew up in the Mandate of Palestine during the same period. Each story reflects unique, individual experiences, and as a group, the stories provide a library of resources for learning about the Holocaust through personal narratives. Summaries of the survivor stories can be found here.

Each story contains five short chapters (about a page or two each). The first chapter describes the survivor’s life before the Holocaust. Chapters two, three, and four cover life during the Holocaust. The fifth chapter focuses on life after the Holocaust.

Coming of Age is not a stand-alone curriculum for teaching about the Holocaust. It supplements a Holocaust curriculum by illustrating how real people’s lives were affected by historical events. For a review of best practices for teaching the Holocaust we recommend reviewing Meeting Hate with Humanity: Life During the Holocaust Teacher’s Guide (PDF 876 kb), which offers a chronology of the Holocaust and essential vocabulary terms and Guiding Principles for Teaching the Shoah in Jewish Schools (PDF 70.9 kb).

Learning Goals

Students will reflect on the challenges survivors faced in maintaining their identities, responsibilities they assumed during difficult circumstances, sacrifices they made for others, and lessons they want to impart to the next generation. By studying the lives of survivors, students will grow in their understanding of the Holocaust and themselves, and develop a deep sense of what it means to come of age today.

Who We Are

Coming of Age in the Holocaust – Coming of Age Now is a project of the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York in collaboration with Yad LaYeled – The Ghetto Fighters’ Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Heritage Museum in Israel. Development of Coming of Age is made possible by a generous grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany:Rabbi Israel Miller Fund for Shoah Research, Documentation and Education. Additional support provided by The Slomo and Cindy Silvian Foundation, Inc.

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Contact Us

The Coming of Age staff is committed to supporting students, teachers, and families as they work on the curriculum. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about using the website or the curriculum. We also appreciate hearing your comments and feedback.

Email us or call us at (646) 437-4295.

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