The first ever illustrated children’s books of the Jewish Museum of Greece were presented during the Second Seminar for Educators, organised by the Museum in Thessalonica on October 23rd 2005. The first book, “My Friend, Aaron” is addressed to elementary school children, while the second, “The Wooden Clogs tell their Story” is suitable for children up to 15 years of age.
During the same seminar, another new publication of the Museum’s was presented, the study manual “The Second World War and the Holocaust of the Greek Jews, 1941-1944”.
“My Friend, Aaron”
The long experience of the JMG with children of school age prompted the creation of this book. The aim of this publication is for non-Jewish children to understand, through the story of two young boys, the differences of the Jewish religion and to think about what any differences imply.
The book tells the story of a friendship between two boys, Kostis and Aaron. As Kostis, who is Christian Orthodox, describes familiar holidays and celebrations, next to his Jewish friend’s unfamiliar customs, the children learn about Jewish holidays and traditions, and about the relation these have to both the seasons of the year and the Christian holidays themselves. The story leads the children to understand that, although someone may celebrate different things, at different times and in different ways, that does not stop him or her from having the same hopes, desires and rights as everybody else. They also learn that a difference in faith or customs does not affect the bond between friends but, on the contrary, it makes life richer and more interesting.
“The Wooden Clogs Tell their Tale; A True Story”
The aim of the book “The Clogs Tell their Story” is to bring the children into first contact with the subject of the Holocaust. Taking into account their sensitive age, the book presents the Holocaust through the experiences of a young boy, thus rendering the introduction of young readers to this difficult but crucial subject, easier. The story is based on true testimonies from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, recorded at the Jewish Museum’s archives, as well as on authentic items from the Museum’s Holocaust collection. The illustrations are based on photos of the camp and information from survivors, who gave a lot of data about the layout of that camp and the living conditions there.
In the book, the clogs themselves tell their story of how, from their existence as a tree in German woods, they ended up in the Museum’s Holocaust Display Case, having a direct purpose: to tell their story to all visitors. Through the story of the clogs we get to know their wearer, an anonymous boy prisoner in the camp, and his feelings and fears.
The book may function autonomously or be used in a classroom to prepare children before a visit to the Museum. It may also assist parents who visit the Museum with their children.
“The Second World War and the Holocaust of Greek Jews, 1941-1944”
The study manual is an evolved form of a smaller publication presented to educators during the previous seminar, in 2004. After extensive research, the new edition has been enriched with new texts and information.