Brian Maxwell: Teaching about the Holocaust

Brian Maxwell: Teaching about the Holocaust

Dr. Brian Maxwell
Dr. Brian Maxwell has taught and directed plays at BBC for 22 years. He holds degrees in communications, theatre, and ministry. He has studied theatre in London, England and Edinburgh, Scotland and received his Ph.D. from New York University's program in Educational Theatre.

He is married to Andrea and they have five children: Brandon, Travis, Alyssa, Evan, and Seth. They live in Clarks Summit, PA, where he is also the worship leader at Heritage Baptist Church.

During the summer of 2008, Dr. Maxwell presented a workshop entitled "Teaching the Holocaust through Theatre and Collaboration" at the 6th Annual International Conference on Holocaust Education at Yad Vashem in Israel.

Insight Questions

What were some highlights of your trip?
It was an extraordinary experience. I had the opportunity to talk with educators from all over the globe. Almost 800 people from 51 countries participated in the conference about how to teach the Holocaust. I was also able to talk about BBC's production of "And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank" and visit the the Western Wall to experience the beginning of Shabbat.

How did you become a part of the conference?
Following the opening night performance of the BBC production, we held a forum with Erica Herz VanAdelsberg, a Holocaust survivor, and Tova Weiss, the director of the Holocaust Education Resource Center of Scranton. After hearing about the production from Tova, a friend who works at Yad Vashem encouraged her to invite me to attend the conference and present a workshop. I received a grant from Yad Vashem that paid for my conference fees and hotel costs., the Holocaust Education Resource Center gave me a grant for my expenses, and a generous BBC donor gave me enough money so Andrea could go with me. Praise the Lord!

How was your presentation received?
Overall, my presentation was well received. Several participants told me it was informative, educational, and moving. One of the moderators from Israel asked for more specifics about the script because she has a friend who teaches theatre at the University of Tel Aviv. I gave her a copy of the script.

What was most surprising about your trip?
How beautiful Israel is. How diverse the population of Jerusalem is.

Was there a single experience that stands out in your mind?
Yes. Sharing communion with Andrea at the Garden Tomb. It was an incredibly emotional and deeply spiritual experience.

What was the most beautiful thing you saw?
The opening night ceremony at Yad Vashem was incredibly beautiful and moving. Andrea told me that if we had left that night the entire trip would have been worth it just for that ceremony. The people of Israel are beautiful in many ways. Jerusalem is a gorgeous city. And shopping in the Old City is an incredible experience.

How will your experience at Yad Vashem affect your teaching?
I've already had an opportunity to apply what I've experienced. I was asked to develop/present a workshop on teaching the Holocaust for Dr. Janet Hicks' course in Adolescent Literature. It was well received.

How will it affect other areas of your life?
It has increased my desire to travel. On the way to Israel we were able to experience a one-day layover in Prague, Czech Republic. What a beautiful city. Experiencing Israel and the Czech Republic makes me want to see more of the world and interact with people from different cultures.

What lessons did you learn?
I realized more fully that the lessons of the Holocaust can be applied to today, especially in places like Rwanda and Darfur. We need to be aware of what is happening in our world so that the horrors of the Holocaust will never happen again. Also, I now read the Bible differently because when a specific place is mentioned in scripture I can picture it in my mind . I've been there, and that's incredible.

What other ways will you apply your experience?
One way is by continuing to develop relationships with my Jewish friends and neighbors. For example, this past Halloween -- which happened to be a Friday evening, the beginning of Shabbat -- as I was trick-or-treating with my children, I was able to not only wish my Jewish neighbors a "happy Halloween," but also say to them "Shabbat Shalom." This opened up a great discussion about our trip to Israel. They had been able to attend a performance of "And Then They Came for Me" and were amazed that a Bible College would produce such a play. It ministered to them and opened a door of friendship and communication.

Contact Information
Phone: 570.585.9237

B.S., Calvin College
B.A., Cornerstone University
M.A., Bowling Green State University
M.Min, Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D., New York University

Click here to learn more about Communications Ministries at BBC.

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Posted on: 11/14/2008 11:48:25 AM

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