This past week, students of Cohort VII took part in an annual three-day seminar at one of our partner Holocaust institutions, the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum, known in Hebrew as, Beit Lohemai Haghetaot. Located on a Kibbutz less than thirty minutes away from Haifa, the museum was the first Holocaust museum established in the world in 1949 and is especially unique as it was also the first museum of its kind to be founded by Holocaust survivors themselves. Here, one of our students, Lottie Kestenbaum, wrote about her experiences during the seminar.
“I have wanted to visit the Ghetto Fighters’ House for a while and am thrilled that my first time at the museum was with my classmates as it gave us the opportunity to discuss the Holocaust outside of a formal classroom setting. However, what impacted me the most from the seminar was the fact that unlike other Holocaust museums, the GFH was built by survivors themselves who established a space on their kibbutz for people to come together and learn about the Holocaust, both their experiences and the genocide as a whole. The founders of the kibbutz were the original curators, tour guides and educators in the museum. Even though almost all of the original founders of the kibbutz have passed away, I felt that I was walking through the museum with Antek Zuckerman and Chavka Folman- Raban, two of the founders, as my personal guides. The presence of these founders was felt both throughout the museum and the kibbutz. We were not only learning about history but were walking through it as well.”
Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum
Students 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.
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. 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.
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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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
Students participating in the course Visual Culture in the Holocaust were honored to hear a fascinating lecture from Professor Paolo Coen on the state of Holocaust memorialization in Italy. In addition to his position at the University in Teramo, Professor Coen also sits on the board of the planned Museo della Shoah in Rome. The museum will be the first of its kind in Italy and is projected to open in 2021.
The University of Haifa was honored to host the conference; Torch Bearers: Emerging Scholars in the Feild of Holocaust Studies on May 7-8, 2018. The conference brought together a collection of international Ph.D. fellows and MA graduate students from around the world, currently pursuing Holocaust research in an Israeli academic institution.
The two-day conference was moderated by leading Israeli Holocaust scholars, including; Dr. Dan Michman from Bar-Ilan University and Yad Vashem, Dr. Chavi Dreyfus from Tel Aviv University and Yad Vashem, Dr. David Silberklang from Weiss-Livnat MA Program at the University of Haifa and Yad Vashem, Dr. Kobi Kabalek from the Weiss-Livnat MA Program at the University of Haifa, Dr. Dinah Port from Tel Aviv University and Yad Vashem, Dr. Roni Stauber from Tel Aviv University, and Dr. Chana Yoblonka from Ben Gurion University and The Ghetto Fighters House.