As we prepare for our fourth year of the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies that will begin in October 2015, we also say goodbye to those students who have completed their degrees and have graduated from our program. Three of our students have graduated with honors, and it is with great pride that we share a special spotlight on them and their research interests. We look forward to seeing what these graduates will accomplish as they continue in the field of Holocaust Studies.
Dorota Nowak came to study in our program from Poland. She completed all her coursework and graduated with honors. She has special interest in Literature of the Holocaust.
Noa Gidron, a student who joined our program after a long career in the Israeli security company, Rafael, completed her degree with a wonderful focus on Jews who rescued other Jews for her MA thesis. She now has a new career in the field of Holocaust Studies, and has already accomplished and contributed a great deal. It is with great pride that we give her the spotlight to discuss her research and the hopes for her future career in the field.
A year ago I completed my research as part of my requirements for the M.A. program in Holocaust Studies. It was the end of a process that began three years ago, a time when I decided that I would retire after thirty-three years at Rafael (Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.) and devote the rest of my life to another significant issue. So I came to choose the program of Holocaust Studies. I am not of the “second generation,” i.e. a child of Holocaust survivors, but the Holocaust was deeply rooted in my education and as an Israeli who grew up in Israel, the Holocaust has been an integral part of my life all these years. A large branch of my father’s family was severed during the Holocaust; my husband is of the second generation of survivors as are many of my friends. The response of my friends to the new direction I chose was that they are tired of this topic which accompanied them during their growing up. This reaction, offered unsolicited by some of them, reinforced my understanding that I had chosen the correct direction and that with the proper training I could contribute to the perpetuation of the subject.
Returning to study in an intensive and demanding program was not simple for me. On top of that there were personal challenges including the transition from a technical field to a contemplative one, plus the requirement of studying in English. These obstacles were outweighed by curiosity and a desire to learn the subject.
I felt great satisfaction from the fact that my thesis research could open a window on a phenomenon that had not been studied as distinct subject until now. The study was devoted to “Jews Saving Jews – Individual initiatives during the Holocaust, 1939–1945.” They were Jews who acted on their own initiative to save lives even though they themselves were trapped in the Nazi regime. Collecting the material and presenting it in perspective reveals a surprising phenomenon based on a large variety of cases of deliberate and systematic rescue made by individual Jews without remuneration. This phenomenon deserves to be studied particularly, as with other forms of Jewish responses during the Holocaust such as armed resistance, revolts, and rescue efforts by organizations.
My research advisor was Prof. Hagit Lavski, who with her kindly manners, professionalism, and acute vision guided me in my new direction. It was a beneficial and fascinating experience for me.
Finally, I am glad that I was able to reach the goal that I’d marked at the outset. A year ago I was given a new opportunity: to join the Archives staff of the Ghetto Fighters’ House (GFH). In this work, I am going through interesting documents while having an opportunity to enrich and expand my knowledge of the subject.
In the future I intend to continue my volunteering in the GFH archive and additionally I hope to find the framework to spread the phenomena of Jews who rescued Jews or to explore another Holocaust subject.
Interested in applying for our MA in Holocaust Studies Program? You can find the application and more information at our website: http://holocaust-studies.haifa.ac.il/