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  • Introduction to Curricular Materials for the Holocaust Suite of Jacob Landau

    The seven lithographs that comprise Jacob Landau's Holocaust Suite provide us with a multi-faceted window through which we can begin to study the events of this dark and difficult period of human history. The Holocaust, or Shoah, occupies an iconic place in modern history, one that represents a clear divide in a world before and after the Nazi attempt to destroy the Jewish people. The world was forever changed, as was our understanding of the human capacity for evil. The unmentionable was spoken and the unthinkable was committed—by people little or no different from us.

    Thus, it is our challenge as educators to derive meaning from these events that we can use to help our students become compassionate and responsive citizens of the world. As a humanist and a man of conscience, Landau recognized that "the Holocaust was a subject that no serious artist could neglect."[1] He believed that the artist is the vanguard for human freedom and the standard-bearer for universal and immutable moral values.[2] It is a creed that places art at the center of all learning, within the classroom and throughout life.

    The most powerful educational experiences are those that incorporate the richness of the world around us in creative and relevant ways. The best teachers are those for whom no walls or barriers exist in the integration of their subject matter with ideas, concepts, or materials from other disciplines. Jacob Landau embraced this doctrine in his personal philosophy of education; art, in his view, was the survival tool that made it possible for humans to achieve a cosmic connection that restored the balance between information and imagination, what he defined as "science-sense" and "art-sense." Once we accept that art is the basis of everything, including science, we will recognize that information, logic, and analysis, without intuition, imagination, or feeling, is incomplete and invalid.[3]

    For Landau, the denial of the complete learning experience, sensory as well as cognitive, resulted in a skewed and truncated intellectual and personal preparation. His world vision called for the integration of all intelligence and disciplines, the triumph of globalism over nationalism, and wholism over specialization.[4] His philosophy addresses many of the concerns for character development in contemporary education: the need to teach our students the fundamentals of ethical and humanistic responses to the world around them, as well as the qualities of responsible citizenship in a modern democracy. On a pedagogical level, his philosophy supports integrated learning and the recognition of each child's path to the mastery of ideas and skills. Many academicians now recognize the need for a more "holistic" approach to education that considers learning styles, gender, cultural background, and family environment in the attempt to best teach our children.

    Within this context, we have prepared curricular materials to assist you in your utilization of the seven lithographs in The Holocaust Suite. The subject areas that have been chosen are history, literature, and art—performing and visual. Art, the Suite itself, is the refracting window through which you will examine these areas, enabling integration and core applicability with the subject. The suggested approaches are designed to guide your preparation; they are open-ended in regards to the time frame for their implementation and allow for the adaptation of the material according to the strengths and needs of your students. We have also provided the links to a number of additional resources so that you can pursue independent study. We invite you to share your successful lessons with us so that we can compile an archive to share with educators in the future, a collaborative venture that Landau would applaud.

    The Holocaust Suite Curricular Materials:

    • Are designed for students in high school and college
    • Meet state standards for course content and pedagogical approaches
    • Comply with the New Jersey state mandate for Holocaust/Genocide education
    • Are adaptable for cross-curricular study
    • With teacher training, offer Continuing Education (CE) credits
    • Include links to resources for advanced study.

    [1] Stephen C. Feinstein, ed., Witness and Legacy: Contemporary Art About the Holocaust, Exhibit Catalogue (Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 1995), 9.
    [2] Jane R. Denny, “Art as Witness to History: The Holocaust Lithographs of Jacob Landau” in Saliba Sarsar, Jane R. Denny, and David Sten Herrstrom, eds. The Holocaust Suite of Jacob Landau (West Long Branch, NJ: Monmouth University, 2008), 14-15.
    [3] Jacob Landau, “Art in Society – An Artist’s Perspective,” in Strategies: A Collection of Major Presentations from the 32nd Annual NYSATA Conference (Rochester, NY, 1983), 19.
    [4] Ibid., 18.

    Genocide & Human Rights Education Center at Brookdale Community College

    The Center for Holocaust, Human Rights, & Genocide Education at Brookdale Community College is an educational resource center that provides information, programs, training, and curricular materials that address the topics of hate, bias, and discrimination. Its community partners include schools, law enforcement organizations, clergy, and county municipal representatives. The Center strives to use the lessons of the Holocaust to enhance awareness and to empower young people, in particular, to stand up and make a difference in their world today.

    Monmouth University

    Monmouth University is an independent, comprehensive, teaching-oriented institution of higher learning, committed to service in the public interest, lifelong learning, and the enhancement of the quality of life. The University promotes creativity, intellectual inquiry, research, and scholarship as integral components of the teaching and learning process. This is accomplished through a dynamic, interactive, interdisciplinary, and personalized education that integrates theory and practice with traditional and progressive pedagogical approaches.

    The Jacob Landau Institute

    Jacob Landau (1917-2001), printmaker, painter, humanist, and teacher was an artist whose works explored the basic themes of human existence and morality with an insight that was both passionate and indignant. He was born in Philadelphia, PA, where he began as an illustrator, but he lived most of his adult life in Roosevelt, NJ. Here he immersed himself in the town's thriving artistic community, along with such noted artists as Ben Shahn, and began a distinguished career as professor at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY. The art he created gained him an impressive reputation, with many of his works included in the permanent collections of the world's finest museums, such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art New York, and the Hirshhorn Museum (Washington, DC).

    The Jacob Landau Institute (JLI), a nonprofit New Jersey corporation, was created soon after Landau's death in November 2001. Its primary purpose is to preserve his legacy, enabling others to experience his work and artistic vision, and to extend his unique philosophy of education into our schools at all levels. Based in Roosevelt, NJ, the JLI has established two cooperative agreements: with Drew University in Madison, NJ, to permanently house the Jacob Landau Archives and his extensive book illustrations; and with Monmouth University in West Long Branch, NJ, to house the Jacob Landau Collection and create educational programs, such as this Holocaust Suite curriculum, that have far-reaching benefits.

    For further information, contact:

    Jane Denny
    Director of Education,
    Center for Holocaust, Human Rights and Genocide Education
    at Brookdale Community College
    (732) 224-2769

    David Herrstrom, Ph.D.
    The Jacob Landau Institute
    (609) 443-4421