Global Classroom: Lublin, Poland

Fall 2014, Rakhmiel Peltz organized his course Reconstructing History After Genocide as a global classroom, partnering with colleagues and students in Lublin, Poland. The beginning part of the course compares different genocides during the twentieth century and focuses on the theory and practice of teaching about the life that had existed before genocide and the efforts after genocide to teach about that life and culture. Some of the theoretical and historical issues dealt with in the course are presented on this website under Reconstructing History After Genocide. The second half of the course focuses on the case study of Jewish life and culture before the Holocaust in the Polish city of Lublin.  In addition, students read the novel, In the Memory of the Forest, by Charles T. Powers (Penguin Books, 1997), set in Poland at the time of the fall of Communism, with a focus on the missing memory of the Jewish residents.

Lublin Partners

Sociologist Adina Cimet had used Lublin as a special case study in the EPYC curriculum she developed at YIVO about pre-war Jewish life in Poland. Rakhmiel Peltz visited Lublin during the summer of 2007. In Fall 2014 we partnered with Dr. Marta Kubiszyn of the Center for Jewish Studies and Professor of American and Comparative Literature Monika Adamczyk-Garbowska, both at the Maria Curie-Skladowska University. Dr. Kubiszyn recruited the students in Lublin who participated. Dr. Adamczyk-Garbowska delivered a lecture that was filmed for both groups of students. The collaborative global classroom succeeded mostly because of the dedication of Magdalena Dziaczkowska, educator at Brama Grodzka, a museum and public educational center with a focus on ethnic studies and most specifically local Jewish history. She arranged for all filming sessions and narrated a new film consisting of a walking tour of sites of historical interest to local Jewish history, as well as an overview of the current work at Brama Grodzka on local Jewish life before the war and during the Holocaust.

On this website we feature most of the special events that were filmed at Drexel University in Philadelphia and at Brama Grodzka in Lublin, in November and December of 2014. Students shared postings of their reactions to different questions and teaching resources during those months. Two of the events that were part of the course but are not on the website are Swarthmore College Professor David Harrison’s talk about his work across the globe on trying to save endangered languages and a panel discussion of seven Drexel University professors discussing their connections to Jewish eastern Europe, “Jewish Eastern Europe On My Mind.” The film Toby’s Sunshine was made available to all students. The most emotionally rewarding part of the course was the culminating, simultaneously recorded joint discussion of the students in Philadelphia and Lublin.

The most emotionally rewarding part of the course was the culminating, simultaneously recorded joint discussion of the students in Philadelphia and Lublin.

This global classroom was able to generate usable educational resources for on-line sharing, thanks to the work of Steve Chestnut, Larissa Magano, and Robert Rasberry, Instructional Technology Group, Drexel University Information Technology. The Drexel University Office of International Programs provided financial support. Kathleen Carll, Associate Director, Judaic Studies, Drexel University facilitated all stages of the venture.

Dr Rakhmiel Peltz Lecture

A review of the first five weeks of the course Reconstructing History After Genocide, with a focus on educational restitution after the genocides of the twentieth century. There is also a discussion of the film, Toby’s Sunshine, that focuses on Jewish life before the war in a small agricultural village in southeastern Poland. This lecture served as an introduction of the students in Philadelphia to those in Lublin.


Dr Adina Cimet Lecture 01

She reviews the rationale behind the planning of the educational project on Jewish life in eastern Europe, EPYC, that she developed at YIVO.


Dr Adina Cimet Lecture 02

For the EPYC project, Dr. Cimet was able to reconstruct the Jewish stores on Lubartowska Street in Lublin,Poland before World War II.


Panel Discussion: Is Yiddish An Endangered Language?

With Dr. Adina Cimet, Dr. David Harrison (Swarthmore College), Dr. Barbara Hoekje (Drexel University), and Dr. Rakhmiel Peltz


Tour of Jewish Lublin and Brama Grodzka

With Magdalena Dziaczkowska, we take a tour of contemporary sites in Lublin of Jewish historic significance, as well as a tour of the museum at Brama Grodzka and its representation of remembering Lublin’s Jewish history.


Monika Adamczyk Garbowska Lecture

Images of Jewish Lublin and the Lublin Region in Yiddish Literature


Simultaneous Class Global Classroom

Students in Philadelphia and Lublin share their impressions at the end of the global classroom course.