POV is excited to offer high school teachers a study guide for the film Hiding and Seeking: Faith and Tolerance after the Holocaust” prepared by Facing History and Ourselves. For nearly 30 years, Facing History and Ourselves has been supporting educators as they teach about the Holocaust and other genocides. In “Hiding and Seeking” themes of rescue, forgiveness, the need to confront one’s past, the power of memory and the legacy of the Holocaust emerge as central to the story. These themes intersect in meaningful and important ways with those that are central to the work of Facing History. The study guide for Hiding and Seeking is divided into three lessons. The first, Communities of Caring, introduces the film and provides important background information for teachers to share with students. In the second lesson, Menachem’s Challenge, students view the first two segments of the film and consider themes of identity, universe of obligation and rescue. During the third lesson, Reconciling with the Past?, students view the final segment of the film and reflect upon some of its more complex aspects, including how those who risked their own lives to rescue others during the Holocaust.
About the Film
Hiding and Seeking tells the story of a Jewish father who tries to alert his adult sons to the dangers posed by defenders of the faith who preach intolerance of the “other” and who feel compelled to create impenetrable barriers between “us” and “them.”
To broaden their views he takes them on a highly charged emotional journey to Poland. To his sons, like many offspring of Polish Holocaust survivors, this is a country that will always be associated with anti-Semitism. It is here that he introduces his sons to Poles who personify the highest levels of exemplary behavior.
The highlight of their journey comes when they track down the Polish farm family who risked their lives to hide the sons’ grandfather for more than two years during the Holocaust. This encounter and its aftermath lead the sons to at least consider their father’s viewpoint more seriously.
In the course of telling its compelling and dramatic story, “Hiding and Seeking” explores the Holocaust’s effect on faith in God as well as its impact on faith in our fellow human beings. Filmed in Jerusalem, Brooklyn and Poland, the film focuses on the filmmaker’s attempt to heal the wounds of the past by stopping the transmission of hatred from generation to generation.
Viewing the Film
If viewing the film during class, we suggest breaking it into three sections organized by theme.
Film Viewing Segments: (approximate times)
1 — Menachem’s Challenge: Minute 0 – 32:20
2 — Journey through Poland: Minute 32:20 – 67:27
3 — Reconciling With the Past: Minute 67:27 – End
Each of these lessons is designed for a single class period (depending on your school schedule) that includes viewing the whole segment, reflection and teaching strategies.
Lesson three in the study guide provides several activities that can be used to evaluate student understanding of the main themes and concepts presented in the film.
Teaching strategy 1 in Lesson 3 invites students to write a speech they would give to honor the Mucha family. The speech should demonstrate what they learned from watching the film about the risks that individuals and families took to save the lives of others. Students should also demonstrate what they learned about the complexity of forgiveness and the legacy of the Holocaust.
Teaching strategy 2 in lesson 3 is a good activity for helping students identify the main idea and themes of the film. In this strategy, students are asked to think about why the filmmakers chose the name Hiding and Seeking for the film. You can ask students to write a paragraph explaining the title of the documentary.
CORRELATION TO MCREL’S COMPENDIUM OF STANDARDS AND BENCHMARKS:
Behavioral Studies Level IV (Grades 9-12)
Standard 1: Understands that group and cultural influences contribute to human development, identity and behavior.
Standard 2: Understands various meanings of social group, general implications of group membership and different ways that groups function.
Standard 4: Understands conflict, cooperation and interdependence among individuals, groups and institutions.
World History Level IV (Grades 9-12)
Era 8, A Half-Century of Crisis and Achievement, 1900-1945
Standard 41: Understands the causes and global consequences of World War II.
Benchmark 2: Understands the Holocaust and its impact on Jewish culture and European society (e.g., the chronology of the Nazi “war on the Jews,” and the geography and scale of Jewish deaths resulting from this policy; personal reasons for resistance to or compliance with Nazi policies and orders; the brutality of Nazi genocide in the Holocaust as revealed in personal stories of the victims.)
Historical Understanding Level IV (Grades 9-12)
Standard 1: conflict, cooperation and interdependence among individuals, groups and institutions.
Standard 2: Understands the historical perspective.
Language Arts Level IV (Grades 9-12)
Standard 1: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process.
Listening and Speaking
Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes.
Standard 9: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media.
THE LESSON PLANS: