Teacher training seminar on Jewish history in Kutaisi, Georgia

From September 30 – October 2nd, a teacher training seminar took place in Kutaisi, Georgia. In the three-day seminar, educators from Georgia, Azerbaijan and Germany came together to learn about the Jewish history of Kutaisi and the Caucasus, and to develop teaching materials on the subject.

“I learned how people escaped, struggled and succeeded finding peace in another country, also how the shoa has affected the moral of people who were geographically quite far away. How refugees were treated in these countries and how important it is to fight prejudices and to be welcoming (individually and as a nation) – therefore is important to foster democracy, starting as early as in kindergarten.”
A seminar participant from Hamburg

In cooperation with its Georgian project partner Creative Development Center and funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, Centropa held a teacher training seminar for Georgian, Azeri and German educators in Kutaisi, Georgia from September 30-October 2, 2022. To the seminar came 18 teachers from all over Georgia – including Kutaisi, Tbilisi, Batumi, Kobuleti, and Lagodekhi – as well as two German and two Azeri educators. As the land border between the two countries was still closed at the time due to Covid, unfortunately it wasn’t possible to bring as many Azeri participants as initially planned. The Azerbaijani partner organization Resource HUB was represented by its project coordinator for Azerbaijan, Gulnara Ismailova. 

It was the first Centropa seminar to take place in Kutaisi – the second largest city in Georgia and the country’s legislative capital -, which is a city famous in Georgia for its rich Jewish heritage. The Jewish community of Kutaisi used to be one of the largest in the whole country and still houses three synagogues. Beginning in the 1970s, a majority of Jews from Kutaisi emigrated from the Soviet Union to Israel, which was a migration movement made possible by a group of Kutaisi Jews protesting in Moscow to be able to leave the country. Because of Kutaisi’s renowned Jewish history, there were a lot of educators who applied to join the seminar. 

The exhibition developed in a previous project funded by the Federal Foreign Office, “Escaping the Holocaust: Jewish refugees in the Caucasus and Central Asia”, was put up by the project team in the lobby next to the conference room already on Friday and was on display all throughout the weekend, giving participants the opportunity to visit it whenever they had the time.

“The Exhibition part of the seminar was very thrilling and impressive. I got to know the important letters from different persons, soldiers, prisoners, ordinary citizens; Their emotions and feelings made a great influence on me. I learned how Jewish refugees tried to save their lives and find safe shelter, refuge. How they tried to communicate with their family members , relatives and told about themselves.” Participant from Tbilisi