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Newsletter: Winter 2016

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Newsletter: Winter 2016

We have just begun the second semester of our fourth year!  Cohort IV is a group of unique students with diverse backgrounds and research interests.  We love to watch them learn as much from one another as they learn from our wonderful faculty, and we look forward to seeing them succeed. Thank you for following the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies at the University of Haifa.  Your support and interest help to make our program the success it is.

Arieh Kochavi and Yael Granot-Bein

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Seminar at Yad Vashem

 

The members of the fourth cohort highly anticipated our trip to Jerusalem for the four-day seminar at Yad Vashem. Yad Vashem is a world-renowned research institution and museum, and its partnership with the University of Haifa is of particular benefit to the students in the program. The four-day seminar was meaningful and educational. Read on for a breakdown of each impactful day!

 

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 Day 1: Introduction & Emphasis on the International School & Holocaust Education

After an introduction on the history of Yad Vashem and how the emphasis of the institution has changed over time by Professor Dan Michman, the head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research, we heard from three fascinating speakers who focused on various education topics connected to the Holocaust.

Dr. Naama Shik, the  Director of the Internet Department at the International School for Holocaust Studies, spoke about utilizing technology and massive online open courses to spread Holocaust education to a wider audience.

Shani Lurie spoke about the educational philosophy of the International school and all the former and our aspiring educators found her presentation fascinating. Yad Vashem’s educational philosophy is to focus on the Jewish victims including their life before the War, life during the Shoah, and returning to life after the War ended.

The final speaker of the day was Shlomit Steiner who works in the Teacher’s Training Department. She explored a poignant children’s book written by Bedrich Fritta for his son Tommy on his third birthday in Terezin Ghetto.

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Day 2: Tour of the Museum & External Memorials

The second day at Yad Vashem was devoted to a museum tour, an interesting discussion with the head of the artifacts division, and a tour of the Yad Vashem external memorials.

After the museum tour our students had a fascinating talk with the head of the artifacts division. He had laid out various artifacts including a dress and a cloth flag signed by prisoners at the Ravensbruck concentration camp.

Next the students went on a tour of the grounds with another outstanding guide. The guide showed them a series of memorials, which commemorate the Warsaw Ghetto Fighters, Jews who perished in death camps, the childeren’s memorial and a memorial dedicated to Janusz Korczak.

The last event of the day was an insightful conversation with Dr. Iael Nidam-Orvieto, the Director of the International Institute for Holocaust Research. Students had the opportunity to discuss the Museum and their experiences so far with Dr. Nidam-Orvieto, and to hear background from her about the new museum and its creation.

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Day 3: Historical Research Presentations

Day 3 was devoted to presentations by three historians on very diverse and interesting topics. First, Dr. Gerhard Weinberg the author of A World at Arms: a Global History of World War II spoke to our students. This was a special treat for our students as they had previously read his work for multiple courses in our program.

Professor Gerald Steinacher, of the University of Nebraska and author of Nazis on the Run, was the next presenter. Dr. Steinacher spoke about humanitarian politics, specifically the actions and inaction of the International Red Cross during the Holocaust.

The final presentation on Wednesday was given by Italian historian, Dr. Amadeo Osti, on the persecution of Jews in Italy. Osti combated the myth of the “good Italians” and how they rescued Jews because it is only partially true.

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Day 4: Historical & Database Presentations

On the morning of our last day at Yad Vashem the annual lecture of the John Najmann Chair of Holocaust Studies was held. The speaker was Dr. Angel Chorapchiev who spoke about forced labor and survival in the Jewish labor camps in Bulgaria during WWII.

The final two presentations were both by Library and Archives staff. They focused on the databases that Yad Vashem has for conducting research including online exhibitions like Transport to Extinction and the International Tracing Service. Lital Beer from the Reference and Information Service discussed the number and variety of sources in the Yad Vashem collection, most of which are not digitized. Zvi Bernhardt discussed the challenges of name variants when searching the pages of testimony and how complicated it is to search the International Tracing Service.

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The four day seminar at Yad Vashem was packed full of educational and meaningful experiences. In addition to the scheduled lectures and tours, students were able to spend three afternoons in the Yad Vashem Library & Archives doing research on individual projects and papers. Overall it was an incredible experience and we are very lucky to have a partnership with Yad Vashem that enables us to provide a behind the scenes look at the Museum and memorials to our students, and to expose them to leading scholars in the field.
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“Sooo…why Holocaust Studies?” an Essay by Cohort III Student Annette Covrigaru

 10933859_10203774004254131_1632094306387983428_n1Annette Covrigaru is a Long Island, NY native and recently graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in English emphasizing in Creative Writing. In 2014 she was the winner of the college’s Muriel C. Bradbrook Award. Her stories have been published in Kenyon’s student-run literary magazine, HIKA, and are forthcoming in Lambda Literary’s 2014 Fellow Anthology. In past years, she has worked as a Kenyon Review Student Associate and has interned at Random House. While an M.A. student in the Weiss-Livnat International M.A. Program in Holocaust Studies at the University of Haifa, she looks to merge her studies of the Holocaust, literature, and queer identity to create nonfictional stories and preserve LGBTQA Holocaust narratives. After completing her coursework in our program Annette received one of two internships offered to our students at the Jewish Museum in Budapest.  She is currently creating a curriculum for schools about the LGBTQA population during World War II.
“Sooo…why Holocaust Studies?”

During the past year in Israel, before it, and after I’ve returned home, people ask me this question with curiosity, confusion, and concern. The reactions often range from an enthusiastic “Oh, cool!” an indifferent, “Oh..cool,” or a blunt, “Wow, that’s depressing.” Even though I repeatedly answer the “Why?” question, it gets harder to do so every time. Like any geographical, occupational, or educational shift in life, you begin with one narrative or purpose, and somehow, unbeknownst, almost subconsciously, those original goals and outlooks, which at one point were so clear and concrete, morph and fragment into something unrecognizable, but nonetheless meaningful.

My initial narrative, as I recall, went something like this: “Out of the roughly 100,000 (no one knows the exact number) gay men (and men who might have been falsely accused as being gay but were arrested nonetheless) who were harassed, tortured, incarcerated, and murdered during and after the Nazi regime, (in Germany, Paragraph 175, the law that criminalized same-sex relationships, was not repealed completely until the early ‘90’s), there are only ten known picture1survivors (according to the documentary Paragraph 175, however that number may be disputed). Lesbians were also arrested and put into concentration camps under the guise of “asocial” or “political prisoner.” I want to research who these women and men were, uncover their stories, and write creative nonfictional or fictional stories about them.” All of this is true and still holds true – I’ve spent the past year reading memoirs, essays, biographies, short stories, and poems, skimming official Nazi documents and reports, and watching movies and documentaries about the queer victims of the Third Reich. The books and papers I’ve accumulated overwhelmed the narrow shelving in my Tel Aviv apartment, a personal library of queer literature, Holocaust literature, and a combination of the two genres.

And yet, that original winded, statistic-filled, eager-grad-student answer has shortened to a simple sentence: “Why do I study the Holocaust? Well, the topic has always interested me, and I wanted to study it more in depth.” I know, it’s bland. Painfully bland. But what most questioners don’t understand is how that single “Why?” involves complex family histories, and conjures memories of self-awareness and introspection. These scattered tidbits of memory can’t always be translated into a fluid, verbal narrative. So instead of delving, I stay on the surface, at least for those brief interactions.

But what I really want to say is this:

I grew up listening to my Grandma (who recently turned 99 years old and is very lucid) tell me stories about her family and living in Romania. As I got older, I started to make connections between what she was telling me and the Holocaust (she was never in a concentration camp or labor camp, but she lived in an extremely antisemitic country, and still managed to get a degree and work as a pharmacist). In high school, I interviewed her for the “Pre-Me” chapter of a nine-part autobiography writing assignment, which turned into my college essay. In college I took a Jewish Literature course where I read Bruno Schulz, Franz Kafka, and Lesléa Newman short stories, one of which,  “A Letter to Harvey Milk,” made me aware that gay men were Holocaust victims. Curled up on a swivel chair in the library’s abandoned Reading Center during finals week, I procrastinated essay writing to watch Paragraph 175, a documentary in which the remaining survivors of the Third Reich’s persecution of queer individuals tell their stories, some for the first time. It was released in 2000 and, until the release of The Pink Triangle and the Nazi Cure for Homosexuality in 2014, was the only documentary on the subject. In Giovanni’s Room in Philly’s Gayborhood, I come across a book of Lesléa Newman short stories and a back-pocket-sized book of poetry entitled Milk and Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry. That same year, I found a first edition copy of Aimée & Jaguar: A Love Story, Berlin 1943. Jewish Lesbian literature started to become my favorite and most sought out genre. At some point I even invented the word “jesbian” as away to declare an identity for myself and the literature I surrounded myself with (it’s also quite catchy). My interest in all things jesbian and Holocaust related works was known by my friends, and, come senior year, one of those friends asked if I wanted to come with her to hear a lecture about resistance movements during the Holocaust. While listening to that Ohio State University PhD student talk about The White Rose and Warsaw Ghetto uprising, I had an epiphany – I could do this, I could study the Holocaust, in depth, exploring this lifelong interest of mine. After the lecture, I searched online for programs and found this one at the University of Haifa. Later, once accepted, my Israeli born dad told me that he grew up in Haifa, that this is where his family had lived before immigrating to the States. This detail reinforced the notion that events can sometimes come full circle in unexpected and somewhat profound ways.

So…why?

Initially it was an innate allure. Now, I see parallels between Holocaust education and LGBTQ activism. Although each are seemingly separate movements, their missions and histories overlap – understanding and eradicating intolerance through education, promoting social awareness, and elevating and showcasing marginalized voices.

New Prestigious Internship Opportunities at the Jewish Museum Berlin for Students of the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program for Holocaust Studies.

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The University of Haifa is proud to announce the allocation of two prestigious internships with the Jewish Museum Berlin. This new internship opportunity is a result of the visit of the Museum’s program director, Ms. Cilly Kugelman’s, to the Holocaust Studies program in May 2015, when she came to speak about the Museum’s history.

Two German-speaking students will be selected and given the opportunity to work at the museum’s main exhibit and other select projects while acquiring hands-on experience and an understanding of the world of museums. The internships are 3-5 weeks long. While the internships are unpaid positions, the Weiss-Livnat program will provide costs of flights and accommodation in Berlin for the duration of the internship. The candidates will be selected by a committee of staff from the Weiss-Livnat MA Program and the Jewish Museum Berlin. The offer is exclusive to the students of the Weiss-Livnat program. Students to be selected will start their internships at the museum during autumn-winter 2016-17.

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The Jewish Museum Berlin opened in September 2001. According to the Museum’s website, “The Jewish Museum Berlin is one of the most spectacular museum buildings in Germany. Since the beginning it has been a magnet for the public, attracting 350,000 people even as an empty shell before it opened in fall 2001. The architecture was undoubtedly the cause for this initial popularity.” Since its opening an average of 700,000 visitors come to the Museum each year. The Museum’s permanent historical exhibition is entitled “Two Millennia of German Jewish History.” In addition, the Museum has rotating special exhibitions, a multi-media learning center, and numerous online exhibitions.

This is an exciting new opportunity for our students to gain additional experience working in Museums in other countries.

Student Feature: Jason Hochman

Picture36.pngOur student Jason Hochman was recently featured on the University of Haifa website.  Here is what he shared about our program and his involvement in it.
My name is Jason Hochman, I am 27 and I am originally from Providence, RI. I graduated from UMass Amherst in 2011 with a BA in Judaic Studies. Five years ago I moved to Israel and served in the IDF as a Non-Commissions Officer in the Civil Administration Unit in the West Bank.

What led you to pursue an MA degree in Holocaust Studies?

There are many factors which led me to pursue my MA in Holocaust Studies. On the one hand it was sort of a natural progression from my undergraduate studies in Judaic Studies. On the other hand, it is my interest in anti-Semitism, its history in the modern sense, and its culmination with the Holocaust and how it transforms and shows itself in today’s society, which also drove me to study the Holocaust. It is also a very personal journey for me, a way to try to uncover more about the fate of my own family and its past in the context of the Holocaust.

How did you pick the University of Haifa?

The University of Haifa for me was an easy choice; it is like my home away from home. I studied abroad here for the year during my undergraduate studies in 2009-2010. I had the most amazing experience, fell in love with the University and Israel in general, and because of it, I moved here.

Once I found out about the Weiss-Livnat program and that it was at the University of Haifa, I knew I had to be part of it. The University of Haifa is where I wanted to be and it felt like I had come home.

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Do you have a favorite course so far?

I really enjoyed all of the courses so far however; my favorite course of first semester was definitely my German language course. I love learning new languages and was impressed by the amount of material we covered and the progress the class had made, in such little time.

What kind of volunteering work are you involved in?

I am currently volunteering with Amcha, an organization which provides counseling, support and activities for Holocaust survivors here in Israel. I have been paired up with a local Holocaust survivor named Aaron and we meet once a week for a few hours and talk about everything, from life to food, to family and about his survival during the Holocaust. We get along really well and he is very funny and extremely energetic. Going to see him is no longer going to volunteer; it is going to see a friend.

What do you think of this MA program?  How is it different from other academic programs you’ve been involved in?

Once I found out about the Weiss-Livnat program and that it was at the University of Haifa, I knew I had to be part of it. It has been a truly rewarding, interesting and fulfilling experience thus far, and I cannot wait for what second semester has to offer. What makes the program so special is not just the fact that it is interdisciplinary, but that it provides us with access to the leading experts, researchers, and historians in the field of Holocaust Studies.

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What do you hope to do after you finish your degree here?

After I finish my degree I would like to hopefully continue in Academia.

 What does it mean to you, on a personal level, to be able to study the Holocaust in Israel?

To be able to study the Holocaust in Israel is a once in a lifetime opportunity and an incredible experience. Being able to work with Holocaust survivors first hand is amazing and contextualizes what I am learning in the classroom. Therefore sometimes it can also be very emotional and even draining. In spite of this, for me, it reinforces my reasons for having moved to Israel. I was lucky enough to have the choice which so many people had taken away from them. It is an honor to be here and to do my part so that they will not be forgotten.

Historiography of the Holocaust Course with Professor Dan Michman

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  This year our program is offering a new course on the Historiography of the Holocaust with Professor Dan Michman, the head of the International Research Institute at Yad Vashem. Our students recently attended the first session of the three-day course. Topics discussed during the first session included an introduction to the historian’s craft, terminology, and an overview of Holocaust research.

The seminar began with a discussion of what history is and how historians study it. Historians analyze the partial documentation of the past to create a representation of it that is influenced by their background knowledge. Essential questions that were discussed were why historians have different representations of the past and whether their interpretations can be objective. A historical narrative is influenced by the questions historians ask of the past and the evidence they select as relevant to addressing the query. Historians often ask questions that relate to the present and whose answers will thus illuminate contemporary issues. An important aspect of history is how the same issue can be tackled multiple times with different results depending on which sources the historian uses and how the historian interprets the evidence.

The second topic that Prof. Michman discussed with our students related to the terminology used to describe the systematic murder of the Jews of Europe by the Nazi Regime and its collaborators during World War II. Michman discussed the etymology and history behind the use of several terms such as Shoah, Holocaust, Catastrophe, years of wrath, extinction, cataclysm, extermination, churban, and judeocide among others. Shoah is a Hebrew term for an unexpected catastrophe or downfall that was used in Psalms and Isaiah. It was used as early as the 1930s to describe the initial persecutory measures taken against Jews in Germany. Holocaust comes from the Greek word for sacrifice. Since 1960 the terms Shoah and Holocaust have gained ascendency and become the most prevalent. It is interesting to note that the terms in Yiddish initially used by survivors are no longer used as frequently as Shoah and Holocaust. Prof. Michman explained this phenomenon as resulting the post war emigration of the majority of Jews to English speaking countries, such as the United States, as well as to Israel.

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The final topic of the first session was an overview of Holocaust Historiography, which has only been analyzed since the 1980s. Michman divided Holocaust research into four stages. The first stage occurred during the period from 1933-1945 and was conducted by the participants or victims of the events. An advantage of this period is that it was seen from close proximity and many issues that were later overlooked because the Final Solution overshadowed them were studied. A disadvantage of this period was that there was no long-term perspective and the internal documentation of the Nazi Regime was unavailable.

The second stage of research occurred after the war and consisted of two unrelated historiographies. First, there was a Jewish historiography that focused on physical resistance and instances of rescue. Second, mainstream historiography of the period used released internal documents such as that connected to the war crimes trials to focus on the perpetrators. The third stage of Holocaust historiography saw the expansion of the role of perpetrators to include mid to low level functionaries of the Regime; a study of bystanders such as the Catholic Church, the Yishuv, and Allied and neutral countries; local studies; and a new focuse on social history. The fourth stage of research was influenced by the opening of archives in the Eastern Bloc and the release of more documentation in the west. This allowed for greater focus on refugees, research on the evolution of the Final Solution including on the Eastern Front, and a biography boom as scholars studied the personalities of central perpetrators.

Our students benefited greatly from the discussions of the first session with Prof. Michman and are looking forward to the rest of the course that will include a study of key historical debates such as the intentionalists vs. the functionalists and analysis of key documents.

Alumni Theses

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Our offices are starting to fill up with a wealth of new research from our alumni as the pile of approved theses expands.  We are proud to share a few examples of their innovative research in this newsletter.
“The Role of the Jewish Women
in the 1944 Sonderkommando Uprising in Birkenau”1146485_522153004519155_1836753258_n

Ronnen Harran

The uprising of the Sonderkommando may be likened to the tip of an iceberg, where much is obscured. Ronnen Harran’s research attempts to delve into the details below the surface, both during the period preceding the uprising and the period following it: On the one hand it traces the preceding events: the establishment and execution of the gunpowder smuggling activity and reevaluates them, and on the other hand it delineates the German investigation that followed the uprising, which led to the imprisonment of four Jewish women and to their execution – all while evaluating multiple testimonies and documents, some of which have not yet been subjected to research. It turns out that no less than thirty Jewish women prisoners participated in the gunpowder smuggling. This research refutes the common knowledge that the smuggled gunpowder was used to blow up one of the four crematoria. Rather, it turns out that the crematorium was indeed set on fire and burnt down. Thus, the great effort, risk and courage associated with the smuggling – were all in vein. Perhaps the most important finding is the uncovering of the reason for which the four women were accused of smuggling gunpowder and the determination of the goal behind their execution by hanging in publicly held ceremonies. Contrary to common wisdom, this was not due to the fact that a crematorium was blown up – allegedly with gunpowder that was smuggled by these women. It turns out that camp authorities chose to regard the proven smuggling from the factory as an act of sabotage that damaged the production process. These women therefore paid with their lives for the widespread acts of sabotage that were commonplace at the ‘Union’ factory, and which had a detrimental effect on both the rate of production and its quality – acts of sabotage that camp authorities have failed to uncover and prevent.

 

10885570_10203131136659203_5430642585136380234_n“A Question of Faith: Children of the Kindertransporte and Their Search for Jewish Identity”

Ariella Esterson

For many children growing up in Europe during the Third Reich, a period from 1933-1939 filled with growing persecution of Jews in Germany and annexed Austria prior to the full-scale Holocaust, the Kindertransporte was their only hope of survival. Once arriving in England, the children and youth, ages 18 and under, had very different experiences. There were a variety of factors which influenced how they adapted to their new surroundings.

Specifically, each of the children were accustomed to a certain degree of Jewish observance in their homes. Whether they had been assimilated into German culture or came from religiously observant homes, where the children were placed in England, be it in Jewish homes, private Christian homes, hostels, or schools, the degree of religious observance and level of faith varied. Ariella Esterson’s analysis focuses on the different experiences that the Kindertransporte1 children had as it pertains to how they preserved the religious identity developed in their homes in Germany, and explains how those primordial home experiences shaped their future religious identities and levels of faith as adults.

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Audrey Zada

A large focus of Holocaust Studies has been dedicated to spreading awareness of the Holocaust in hopes that this awareness will help to prevent more genocide.  At the root of this issue is the “bystander” – the onlooker, witness, collaborator etc. Audrey Zada’s thesis asks how the term “bystander” is used in Holocaust discourse to reflect larger, national aspects of Israeli and American narratives of the Holocaust by closely analyzing the two national Holocaust museums from these countries, Yad Vashem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It explores how the term “bystander” became popular in relation to the Holocaust by examining its development in social psychology, historiography of the Holocaust and practical applications in international law policy.  By examining the main exhibit, museum book and website of both Yad Vashem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum this thesis shows how these two institutions’ use, or omission, of the “bystander” in their most popular materials reflects national ideas about the Holocaust in their respective countries.  This thesis argues the idea of the “bystander” is in fact presented differently in Israel and the United States, and that neither narrative presents a understanding of the term that can help encourage its museum visitors to engage with the topic in a meaningful way.
12308439_10103210983954440_2877808668096411936_nThe Jüdischer Kulturbund Filmbühne
and the Jewish-German Community in the Third Reich, 1938-1941″

Leah Rauch

Leah Rauch’s thesis presents the first in-depth study of the impact the Filmbühne (film stage) had in the lives of German Jews living under the systematic oppression of the Nazi regime. The Filmbühne was an extension of the Jüdischer Kulturbund, a Jewish organization which offered cultural activities exclusively for Jews in the Third Reich between 1933 and 1941. The Filmbühne opened in December 1938 and provided Jews in Berlin an opportunity to view films, an activity which had been forbidden to them in the previous month. This thesis first reconstructs the Filmbühne itself, including who attended the film screenings, what was shown, the cinema’s function within the larger Kulturbund organization, and why the Nazi authorities allowed it to exist. The following chapter analyzes diaries, essays, and letters of personal correspondence in order to determine how individual German Jews interacted with the cinema and the different ways the organization affected their daily lives. The final chapter is devoted to the ways in which films were presented to the Jewish community in Germany through film reviews in the Jüdisches Nachrichtenblatt, the only surviving Jewish newspaper at the time. This study illustrates how these film reviews resisted the prevailing ideology of the Nazi regime, reflected both in the films’ plots and their reviews in non-Jewish newspapers in the Third Reich, and articulated a particularly Jewish cultural perspective. Furthermore, this thesis demonstrates how the Jewish reviews of the Filmbühne screenings were used as a pretext to circumvent strict Nazi censorship in order to send messages to the Jewish communities across the German Reich, having a much greater impact than merely affecting the individuals who actually attended the film screenings. Ultimately this study discusses the variety of ways that the Filmbühne affected the lives of German Jews, most notably by increasing quality of life and serving as a valuable communication tool that subverted Nazi ideology and opposed the Nazi regime’s policy of cultural segregation, and sent messages of validation and encouragement to the Jewish community.

 

Exciting New Partnership with the American International School

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Our students have an exciting new opportunity this year to partner with the Walworth Barbour American International School in Israel (WBAIS). Under the guidance of Beth Dotan, formerly the International Director at the Ghettos Fighters’ House Museum, students will collaborate to coordinate a special Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, for WBAIS’ middle school. A diverse group of our students from multiple countries are involved in this project.

The group has met three times in order to plan an engaging and relevant program for the student and conducted a visit to the school to speak directly to the staff on March 4th.

The first working session focused on Holocaust Commemoration. Dotan asked each participant to share their conception of what commemoration is prior to reviewing how different countries and organizations including Israel, the USA, the United Nations, and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance commemorate the Holocaust. Our students heard about the expectations of the WBAIS staff and began to discuss what message to take to the school. For many students commemoration should be productive and a chance to apply the lessons of the Holocaust to today, including learning how to take action to prevent other genocides.  Our students were also interested in creating a program that would deepen WBAIS students’ understanding of the experience of survivors by hearing from a survivor.

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The second working session focused on Holocaust Education. Dotan posed questions to the participants such as what is age appropriate Holocaust education, when should you teach the Holocaust, and what resources and materials should educators use? Dotan discussed the change in Holocaust Education over time from an initial silence to the availability of increasing museums and resources. The participants saw a video of Shulamit Imber, the pedagogy director at Yad Vashem. Imber discussed the importance of educators finding meaning in the Holocaust for their pupils and not just teaching what happened. Imber urged educators to focus on the human story of individuals, families, and communities, not a number.
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In addition to sharing with the participants Yad Vashem’s philosophy regarding Holocaust education Dotan shared the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum teaching guidelines, a new initiative in the Nordic Countries to focus on rights, democracy, and rule of law to teach students to become empathetic citizens, and finally the guidelines put out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Dotan shared other organizations that are useful to educators such as the Anti-Defamation League. Dotan brought Holocaust literature to the workshop and asked the participants to share two books that they would either teach or not teach and explain why. It was very useful to see the number of different resources available to educators.

The third workshop held at the start of the spring semester was focused on planning the ceremony for the Middle School. Our students decided that after a brief welcome and introduction the students will meet in small groups to engage in an activity that uses lemons and apples to start a discussion on stereotyping, discrimination, and the importance of recognizing the individuality and humanity in every one. Following this activity the students will have the opportunity to hear from a survivor and ask them questions. The program for Yom Hashoah will end with an artistic reflection activity that focuses on what students learned and how they will apply the lessons of the Holocaust.
Our students visited the WBAIS campus to present their plan to the Middle School staff.

Our students were impressed with the campus and staff and had a productive conversation with them about the logistics of the ceremony and how to effectively prepare the students to hear the survivors in advance.  This project led by Dotan is a great opportunity for our students to receive a theoretical basis in Holocaust commemoration and education prior to facilitating the ceremony for WBAIS. This will be an exciting real life challenge for our students to plan and facilitate a program that WBAIS middle school students will find meaningful.

Student Feature: Esther Selman

942919_10152947658320158_1963869420_nOur student Esther Selman shares with us how she decided to join us in Haifa to study the Holocaust.   She also gives us some great insight into her hopes for her future.
My name is Esther Renee Selman I am 27 years old and I’m originally from a small town on the South Coast of England called Gosport but have studied and worked in London for the last four years. Whilst in London I graduated from Kingston University in 2014 with a BA Honors in Human Rights with Drama. Alongside my degree I also volunteered for AJR (Association of Jewish Refugees) befriending survivors and the Weiner Library.
I first developed an interest in studying the Holocaust at an academic level after a trip to Poland with Holocaust survivor Arek Hirsh when I was seventeen. Due to a lack of available undergraduate courses that focused solely on the Holocaust I decided to pursue a BA in Human Rights in order to be able to specialize in Holocaust studies at the MA level after obtaining my degree.
The University of Haifa was recommended to me by my supervisor for my BA dissertation Philip Spencer. As we had worked closely together on my research regarding antisemitism and the Nazi Concentration Camp system, he suggested Haifa as a university that aligned with my developing school of thought on the subject. After looking into the program that was offered here at the University I decided that regardless of how complicated it would be to uproot my life and move to Israel this course was the correct course for me.
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Moving to Haifa has been far less daunting than I originally expected. Although it took some adjusting, swapping my oyster card for a Rav Kav and the tube for a bus, Haifa is a beautiful city. Surprisingly it didn’t take long at all to adjust to the language and having a sandy beach 15 minutes away was always going to be a bonus!
One of the main reasons I chose this program was the multidisciplinary approach to studying. Aside from the German language course that I am taking (one of the first language courses I have taken that I am able to see significant improvement week by week) The Final Solution with Dr. David Silberklang has been a highlight. As this is the area of research that I wish to pursue with my thesis, for me this class was particularly interesting as it allowed for years of personal research to finally be explored within an academic environment. The engagement with which all the lecturers are able to approach such a complex and difficult subject make for a professional and open approach to studying the Holocaust.
Alongside studying I also volunteer for Amcha, where I spend time each week with a Holocaust survivor named Tzipi. I also intern weekly at the Ghetto Fighters House Museum where five other students and I are helping curate an exhibition. We work in the archives and currently I am researching an original artifact donated to the museum by a Holocaust survivor which is an incredibly interesting experience. It is experiences such as these that set this program apart from other courses that I have studied before; it is a hands on emersion into multiple aspects of Holocaust education. Not only am I obtaining a degree but I am also gaining valuable work and volunteering experience.
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Whilst on the program I hope to continue to develop research into the Nazi Concentration Camp system. In particular I am interested in the role of transit camps in the Final Solution. Although it is still early days regarding developing a proposal for a definitive research question, through the courses I have taken thus far I already recognize the discipline and subject matter that appeals to my developing interest.

After I finish my degree I am going to move back to London where I will work on my thesis before moving to Berlin in January 2017. Whilst in Berlin I am going to continue learning German, complete my thesis, and work as a tour guide (hopefully) in Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. After I have finished my thesis I hope to continue on to a PHD.
What I find significant about studying the Holocaust in Israel is the access to world famous research centres such as Yad Vashem and the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum. Coming from England the history of the establishment of both centres alone is enough to warrant some kind of education from both institutions if one is hoping to become an expert within the field. Being a part of the program allows people from all walks of life access to an education that is unique and one that is encouraging whatever your interest.

Jan Gross: Interviewed by Student of Holocaust Studies MA Program

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We were privileged to welcome Professor Jan Gross to our program, and learned so much from his dialogue with our student Pe’era Feldman-Gordon.  Pe’era came with questions that ranged from asking about his childhood to his experience as an activist, which provided us all with a nuanced perspective on his research.  He discussed the controversies surrounding his research in Poland, and much more.
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We were privileged to welcome Professor Jan Gross to our program, and learned so much from his dialogue with our student Pe’era Feldman-Gordon.  Pe’era came with questions that ranged from asking about his childhood to his experience as an activist, which provided us all with a nuanced perspective on his research.  He discussed the controversies surrounding his research in Poland, and much more.
You can watch the video of the lecture here.

Cohort III Student to Intern at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

AndrewWe were proud to learn that cohort III student Andrew Steinberg was offered a competitive internship at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC for this spring.  Steinberg fills us in on this special opportunity:
In a few days, I will be leaving for Washington D.C. to start my internship with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  To be completely honest, I still cannot believe that I’ve been given this amazing opportunity to intern with one of the most important Holocaust museums in the world.  I’m not exactly sure what to expect, but I do know that this 10 week internship will be an extremely enriching experience.  I have many people to thank for this incredible opportunity, but most importantly, the faculty and staff at the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies.  Without their constant guidance and support, I truly do not think this internship would have been possible.

THANK YOU

 for supporting the International MA Program in Holocaust Studies at the University of Haifa.  We are proud to have friends and followers around the world, and invite you to keep in touch by liking our facebook page, and our blog.

 

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