History

15th September 2000 at 01:00
Secondary. THE HOLOCAUST: Faith, Morality and Ethics - A resource for teachers of secondary RE and PSE. By Jane Clements, Jonathan Gorsky and Rosie Boston. The Holocaust Educational Trust and The Council of Christians and Jews. pound;9.99.

The Chief Rabbi and Archbishop of Canterbury express high hopes for this joint publication: that it will help "to educate students in the knowledge that, unchecked, hatred can take many forms and claim many kinds of victims" (Sacks); that it will bring a "deeper understanding of ourselves, ourhistory and our relationships one with another" (Carey).

It has been prepared for teachers who want to raise the moral and theological questions behind the Shoah (Hebrew for "catastrophe", and preferred in the text to the term Holocaust), although a wealth of poignant and fascinating primary sources useful for historical investigation are included. Intended for use with key stage 4 and post-16 students, some parts might be accessible to more able pupils inYear 9.

The Holocaust Educational Trust is committed to promoting the academic research that this publication brings to a wider audience. Teachers of RE at A-level will appreciate access to manageable extracts from key academic texts. There is an appraisal of the response of the Curches to the Shoah that might be of interest to students following modern church history courses. The case for a tradition of Christian anti-Judaism is presented with sensitivity.

The final sections are the most interesting. In his trialas Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann based his defence against the charge of "crimes against humanity" on an interpretation of Kant's categorical imperative. This would be a provocative source in ethicsif supported by more detailed argument from other standard texts. With the new foundation and synoptic units at AS and A-level, which require candidates to draw together ideas across subjects, the exploration of the problem of evil from both Jewish and Christian theological perspectives in this publication is timely.

This is a challenging publication in many ways. It is densely packed and I would wantto prepare extremely carefully before using it with students of any age, given the subject matter. I sincerely hope itgoes some way to meeting the high expectationsthe Chief Rabbi and Archbishop set for it. Thisis a remarkable resource, a valuable and rewarding asset for teachers.

Janet Orchard

Janet Orchard is head of humanities and religious education at Central Foundation girls' school, Bow, east London


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