In Memory: Batsheva Dagan z”l

To all who knew Batsheva Dagan, it is with great sadness to inform you that Batsheva died at the age of 100 on 25 January 2024. זכרונה לברכה.

Batsheva was a mother, grandmother and great grandmother, Shoah survivor, Polish-Israeli orator, psychologist, writer and poet. She served as a shlicha (emissary from Israel) for about 6 years from 1985 at, what was then known as, the Department of Education and Youth, set up by RSGB  and ULPS (now Reform and Liberal Judaism, respectively), which later became the Centre for Jewish Education.

During her time in this role, Batsheva did a great deal of writing and developed different curricula for religion schools. According to Rabbi Michael Heilbron, the first Director of the DEY, her most noteworthy contribution was to develop Holocaust Education within the team. She also developed a strong and lasting relationship with Stephen Smith at the National Holocaust Centre in Laxton, in Nottinghamshire.

Probably one of her best-known books was Chika, the dog in the ghetto, which she wrote while at the DEY. In 1987, she wrote a programme, with a psycho-educational approach, entitled, Helping Children to Learn about the Shoah, which had particular relevance to the younger age groups.

Batsheva’s influence in Shoah education amongst UK progressive Jewish educators was significant, including the creation of a cadre of Shoah educators, such as Louise Heilbron, Sheila Chiat, Jonathan Myers and Suzanne Lynn, many of whom are still working in the field.

Once Batsheva arrived in England, she was on a mission to get in touch with Kitty Hart who had shared a bunk with her in Auschwitz. She knew that Kitty was in England, but had no idea where but she found her and they were reunited.

Amongst other interests, Batsheva loved the theatre, especially musicals, but most of all she loved meeting people with whom she shared her story and philosophy on Shoah education.

 

To find out more about Batsheva’s long and impactful life read here:

Yad Vashem testimony film

Yad Vashem Archive

Auschwitz Museum – news article

Auschwitz Museum archive – interview

We send our condolences to Batsheva’s two sons, her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Written by Dr Jo-Ann Myers, Director of Jewish Education, Leo Baeck College, with information provided by Sheila Chiat, Rabbi Michael Heilbron and Louise Heilbron.