In this week’s Research Forum we were treated to a talk by Dr. Alan Rosen of Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies. Dr. Rosen has published widely on the subjects of Holocaust testimony and literature. Most recently he edited Literature of the Holocaust.
Dr. Rosen’s captivating lecture, entitled “Killing Time, Saving Time: Calendars and the Holocaust,” explored the various conceptions of time developed and practiced by Jews during the war—as expressed in the calendars they created. (In some cases, we learned, Jews risked their lives in this endeavor, which seemed to take on special significance.) Emphasizing the degree to which the Jewish calendar has been filtered out of historical and historiographical accounts of the Holocaust, Dr. Rosen called for a reconceptualization of the Jews’ wartime experience—one which frames time through a bifocal lens, underscoring the Jewish calendar’s centrality alongside that of the secular, Gregorian one. As such Dr. Rosen cautioned us, importantly, to consider and write about the victims not through the perpetrator lens, but their own.