Margarita and Hendrik of Cohort VI – Reflections on the past year and focus on the future.

The summer semester is coming to an end and with it, another group of students is saying goodbye to the University of Haifa and Israel. Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting some students of Cohort VI as they share their best experiences from the Weiss-Livnat program and the exciting new adventures they are starting next!

Margarita Pedchenko is from Moscow, Russia. She received her BA in Jewish Studies from Moscow State University. Before joining the Weiss-Livnat Program she participated in The One-Year Jewish Studies Program at The European Institute for Jewish Studies in Paideia, Sweden (2016-2017).


Margarita Pedchenko

Which of the courses you took this year was your favorite?

“Undoubtedly for me, the course Literature of the Shoah, with Dr. Miryam Sivan since I specialize in literary studies. It was great in terms of the contents and at the same time was effectively structured, keeping a good balance between reading the material, analyzing it through writing and discussing it in the group. Most importantly, it was not boring at all – and it is hard to compose an academic course that would be equally engaging for everyone.”

A favorite experience you had in Israel?

“The most unexpected outcome was being introduced to a grand-nephew of one of my favorite writers – Ilya Ilf. Before that, I didn’t know that his descendant lives in Israel. Another remarkable experience was learning about the existence of Miss Holocaust Beauty Pageant and talking to the participants.”

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Elizabeth and Wiktoria of Cohort VI – Reflections on the past year and focus on the future

The summer semester is coming to an end and with it, another group of students is saying goodbye to the University of Haifa and Israel. Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting some students of Cohort VI as they share their best experiences from the Weiss-Livnat program and the exciting new adventures they are starting next!

Elizabeth Schram is from San Antonio, Texas. She received her BA in Applied Learning and Development from the University of Texas, Austin. Before joining the Weiss-Livnat Program, Elizabeth taught English as a second language in Netanya, Israel through MASA.


Elizabeth Schram

What was your favorite course you took during your year in the Weiss-Livnat Program?

“The most intriguing course I took this year was Teaching and Learning about the Holocaust through WHY Questions with Dr. Nurit Novis Deutsch. As an educator myself, I am very passionate about Holocaust education and enjoyed engaging with the various methods being used in Holocaust Education today.”

Tell us one of your best Israel experiences. 

“One of my favorite experiences in Israel was getting to barbecue with friends on the Carmel Mountain in Haifa. Being in nature, eating great food, listening to music and watching beautiful sunsets was always so relaxing and fun.”

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Dr. Elana Jakel of USHMM on The Holocaust in the Soviet Union

elana_jakel_photoStudents of the Wiess-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies were treated to a fascinating guest lecture from Dr. Elana Jakel, Program Director of the Initiative for the Study of Ukrainian Jewry at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

Dr. Jakel’s research focuses on the experiences of Jews, both individually and collectively, in Ukraine during the first years following the Holocaust. Her studies analyze the challenges the community faced and the ways these challenges helped shape the role of Jews in postwar Soviet society.

Dr. Jakel’s lecture, The Holocaust in the Soviet Union, provided a historical timeline of Jewish life in Ukraine, from the interwar period through the aftermath of the Holocaust.

In the newly liberated Ukraine, there was no plausible deniability for either the crimes of the Nazis or the crimes committed by local collaborators and Nazi sympathizers, given the visibility of the Jewish tragedy evident throughout the country. Many Jews found themselves in a hostile environment, struggling to reestablish their former homes and targeted by legal discriminatory employment practices. Furthermore, the state viewed the Jewish experience in parity with those of other “national minorities” in regards to material aid given and recognition of loss and suffering during WWII.

The story of the Holocaust in the Soviet Union is an area in the field of Holocaust Studies where many gaps still need to be filled. With popular trends of Holocaust revisionism currently sweeping Ukraine, the research being done by Dr. Jakel and her colleagues at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at USHMM is more important and relevant than ever before.

Interested in applying for our MA in Holocaust Studies Program?  You can find the application and more information on our website.



How Poland’s Holocaust memory influenced the new law – guest lecture by Dr. Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs, Jagiellonian University in Krakow

Students of the Weiss-Livnat MA Program in Holocaust studies were recently treated to an engaging and poignant lecture by Dr. Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs; Memory, Non-Memory, and Post-Memory of the Holocaust in Poland.


Dr. Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs at the University of Haifa

Dr. Ambrosewicz-Jacobs is a lecturer at the UNESCO Chair for Education for the Holocaust, and former Director of the Centre for Holocaust Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. She holds a Ph.D. in Humanities and Habilitation in Cultural Studies from Jagiellonian University and has been a Pew Fellow at the Center for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University and a DAAD fellow at the memorial and educational site at the Wannsee Conference House.

With the recently enacted “Amended Act on the Institute of National Remembrance” causing waves in both academic and political spheres, Dr. Ambrosewicz-Jacobs’ lecture provided students the opportunity to learn first-hand about the internal politics behind the new law and how it is perceived by Polish Holocaust scholars. Although the Amended Act refers to accusations against Poland as a country, not against individuals, and provides room for artistic and academic statements, critics worry that it could make it a crime to discuss anti-Semitic acts committed by Polish individuals.

Dr. Ambrosewicz-Jacobs’ lecture emphasized the historical complexity leading to the Act’s creation and the intricate collective WWll memory of the Polish people. She opened her talk by citing William James Booth’s concept of Communities of Memory which views collective identity as having been created by a common recollection of history; the commonality in Poland being self-identification as victims. Communities of memory tend to be insular and not empathetic to the victims of other communities. From Dr. Ambrosewicz-Jacobs’ perspective, the inability of the Polish population to empathize with the Jewish victims of the Holocaust is a major factor influencing political policies today. Dr. Ambrosewicz- Jacobs identified specific historical contexts which shaped Polish Collective Holocaust Memory and help explain this lack of empathy.

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New research on the belated commemoration of Raoul Wallenberg in Sweden and Hungary


Dr. Nadav Kaplan presents at the University of Haifa

Students of the Weiss-Livnat International MA in Holocaust Studies recently had the honor of attending a lecture by Dr. Nadav Kaplan. Born in Israel in 1945, Dr. Kaplan served as a combat pilot and was a commander and senior executive in the Israeli air force for 35 years. He holds a B.A in Economics and Business Administration from Bar-Ilan University and an MSC in Management from MIT University. In 2017 he earned his Ph.D. at Haifa University.

Dr. Kaplan’s lecture related to his Ph.D. dissertation topic – the belated commemoration of Raoul Wallenberg in Sweden and Hungary between 1945-2014.

People around the world are familiar with the hero Raoul Wallenberg, who was recruited by the United States War Refugee Board to serve as a diplomat to Sweden’s embassy in Budapest, Hungary in the final years of WWII. He is credited with saving thousands of Hungarian Jews from deportation to death camps by issuing them “protective passports” which identified the holders as Swedish citizens awaiting repatriation.

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University of Haifa President, Professor Ron Robin, gives Keynote Address at Conference of the Association of Israel Studies


University of Haifa President, Professor Ron Robin

Monday, June 25th, 2018 – University of Haifa President, Professor Ron Robin, gave the keynote address at the 34th Annual Conference of the Association of Israel Studies (AIS). Held for the first time at the University of California, Berkeley (where Pres. Robin received his Ph.D.), the conference brought together humanities and social science scholars, as well as Ph.D. candidates from around the world whose research focuses on the modern state of Israel.

President Robin’s keynote speech addressed the major points of friction surrounding free speech within the University sphere, particularly as reflected on Israeli campuses. President Robin argued that Universities are institutions of education, not sovereign states, and, as such, are responsible for ensuring that free speech on campuses reflects a pedagogical mission.

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Newsletter – Spring 2018


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Newsletter – Spring 2018

The Spring semester is always a special time at the Weiss-Livnat International Program. We begin to see the fruits of our current student’s hard work and dedication and are excited by their success. But it is also a bittersweet time as we begin to bid our current cohort goodbye and prepare for the new cohort’s arrival in October. Please enjoy this newsletter sharing accounts from the past semester, upcoming events and introductions to some of our new students.

Thank-you for following the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program at the University of Haifa. Your continued support and interest is vital to our program’s success.

Arieh J. Kochavi & Yael Granot-Bein

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