Few charities have made as strong an impact on the lives of young Jewish Americans as the Jewish Partisans Educational Foundation (JPEF), which is why the Charatan/Holm Family Foundation proudly supports its laudable work. By changing the way the Holocaust is taught and discussed, the foundation is inspiring a new generation of Jews to address genocide, racism, sexism, hate and tyranny at home and around the world.
JPEF focuses on teaching educational and cultural organizations about Jewish partisans, those Jews who fought back against the Nazis during the Holocaust. Because so many people aren’t aware of the contributions of these courageous civilians, JPEF works to raise awareness about the 20,000-30,000 Jews who worked tirelessly to thwart Nazi efforts during World War II. Heroic partisans contributed to the war effort in many ways, including destroying thousands of armored convoys, procuring food and medicine, tending to wounded soldiers, sabotaging German communications and supply lines, sheltering/rescuing civilians, and saving countless Jewish lives.
Though Jewish partisans took many forms and operated across several European countries, most were regular teenagers who escaped the ghettos and work camps and joined organized resistance groups. Because they were uprooted from their homes, most groups survived by leading a nomadic existence within forests or urban undergrounds. Partisans employed numerous strategies, both violent and non-violent, to stymie Nazi efforts.
The foundation’s RESIST curriculum centers around changing our perception of the Jewish experience during the Holocaust. Designed for 6th-12th graders, the curriculum empowers students to understand the past more fully, while revealing opportunities for how to positively influence the world today. Hundreds of thousands of educators, institutions and private citizens around the world use JPEF’s materials, and it has reached over a million students since its founding in 2000. The organization works closely with Jewish schools, youth groups, summer camps, synagogues, Hillels, secular and parochial schools, and also influences educators through its partnerships with organizations like the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Facing History and Ourselves, Scholastic, Inc., the Illinois Holocaust Museum, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and others.
JPEF produces a range of printed and digital materials that can easily be incorporated into Holocaust education programs, as well as World History, Ethics and English classes. Its website alone serves as the largest online resource for information about Jewish partisans, and brings together short films, video clips, 3D environments, curriculum resources, study guides, biographies, news media and interactive tools. All of these assets are available free-of-charge. The foundation also regularly provides teacher trainings and operates a speakers’ bureau.
When it comes to studying the Holocaust, the inclusion of all stories is essential. The story of Jewish partisans not only alters our understanding of the past, but provides models for resistance today. Fighting hate around the world is as important now as it was then, and with that belief in mind, we’re so pleased to support JPEF’s mission, and hope that with each passing year, more Jews draw insights and motivation from the past to transform the present.