Holocaust Learning Experience Expands to All Florida Public School Districts

HLE uses the lessons of the Holocaust to combat hate, bigotry and prejudice Announcement comes as the world acknowledges International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27

As the world prepares to recognize International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, the Holocaust Learning Experience (HLE), a non-profit developed by MorseLife Health System in West Palm Beach, announces a significant expansion. The HLE has been entrusted by the state of Florida to develop, deploy and deliver lessons from the Holocaust during the current school year, impacting more than 2 million students, grades 5—12, in all of the state’s 67 school districts.

“MorseLife has cared for Holocaust Survivors for 40 years,” said Keith A. Myers, MorseLife’s president and CEO. “They have implored us to ensure the Holocaust is never forgotten or repeated. Their heartrending pleas, especially in light of the conflicts in the world today, inspired us to create the Holocaust Learning Experience to educate and transform generations, with the goal of ending antisemitism, prejudice, bias, and bigotry.”

Although Holocaust instruction in Florida has been mandated for several decades, it was  unfunded until December 2023, when the State provided seed funding to the HLE and filled a critical gap for many of the state’s teachers who have not had the opportunity to be trained in Holocaust studies by universities, museums and Holocaust research organizations.

After starting out by providing classroom visits with Survivors in South Florida, the HLE is now offering an innovative Signature Educational Model designed as a turn-key operation that is scalable, equitable and uniform in both rural and urban settings.

The HLE Learning Management System is a bundled, plug-and-play approach that includes original, professionally produced interviews and testimonies of Holocaust survivors and age-appropriate, multi-sensory, historically accurate documentary-style films. Each lesson has a Teachers Resource Guide to accompany the grade-specific lessons from the Holocaust directly into classrooms across the curriculum.

Preliminary student outcome data is documenting an impact. Internal  surveys of participants have reported:

  • 87% gain a greater understanding of embracing differences in others;
  • 85% recognize the importance of putting themselves in others’ shoes;
  • 80% now feel empowered to share how hate led to the Holocaust; and
  • 79% express a commitment to standing up against hateful behavior towards others.

“Education must start early when children develop moral and ethical values and are taught critical thinking, so they are not easily influenced by propaganda,” Myers said. “As the world combats rising antisemitism, we are receiving interest from other states as well as from Germany, Switzerland and Austria.”

The HLE also offers in-person lessons on the MorseLife campus in West Palm Beach, including a time for reflection at the Gendelman Children’s Holocaust Memorial, the only Holocaust memorial in Palm Beach County and one of few memorials exclusively memorializing the 1.5 million children who were murdered in the Holocaust. Created by acclaimed artist Bruce Gendelman, the memorial takes the form of a tree cast from 32,000 pounds of bronze rising 25 feet with a 28-foot-wide canopy that is home to 5,000 ceramic butterflies painted by Survivors, Palm Beach County Public School District students and community members.

For more information, visit holocaustlearningexperience.org

The mission of the Holocaust Learning Experience (HLE) developed by MorseLife is to educate and transform generations to end antisemitism and combat hate, bigotry and prejudice. The HLE, developed by MorseLife, has been entrusted by the State of Florida to develop, deploy and deliver lessons from the Holocaust, impacting more than 2 million students, grades 5—12, in all 67 school districts. Designed as a turn-key operation through a Learning Management System, the program offers age-appropriate, grade-specific lessons from the Holocaust directly into classrooms across the curriculum. This also fills a critical gap acting as a resource for teachers who have never been trained in Holocaust studies. For more information visit holocaustlearningexperience.org.