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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Newsletter Fall 2017


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Fall 2017

We were happy to welcome this last October a group of new young students, who constitute our sixth Cohort. These students – from Israel, the U.S., Canada, England, Poland, Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine, will be studying with us for the next 12 months, touring Holocaust-related sites, interning at museums, schools and research centers and working on their own independent research. We look forward to sharing their meaningful year with you all in our blog and newsletters.

We are happy to share with you some of the highlights of the last few months, as well as to let you know what to expect in the coming months. We have a very exciting year ahead!Please let everyone know that we are now accepting applications for the 2018-19 academic year and are on the lookout for excellent and motivated students. Please share our newsletter and help us reach those who are committed to the research and study of the Holocaust.

Prof. Arieh J. Kochavi & Dr. Yael Granot-Bein


Program News

malloryCohort V Student Reflects on Her Life Changing Year

It has already been three months since we said goodbye to Cohort V. Our student Mallory reflects on her life changing year, shares her plans for the future, and gives advice for the students of Cohort VI…

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Summer Newsletter 2017

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Newsletter: Summer 2017

Website | Blog | Donate | Scholarships

Summer is here and it’s time to say goodbye to Cohort V as they leave us and go back to their home countries. We are looking ahead to welcoming Cohort VI this coming October.

We are happy to share with you some of the highlights of the last few months, which include our students’ study tour to Poland and the publication of a new issue of our journal Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust.

We are always on the lookout for excellent and motivated students. Please share our newsletter and help us reach those who are committed to the research and study of the Holocaust.

Dr. Arieh J. Kochavi & Dr. Yael Granot-Bein

Program News

It is with a heavy heart that we said goodbye to the program’s dear friend and partner, Yitzhak Livnat. We will greatly miss Yitzhak, a survivor of Auschwitz and the most generous man, who shared his story with our students every year, since the program inauguration. We are forever thankful for Yitzhak’s and his family’s generosity and support of our students.

Yitzhak Livnat’s Legacy

In March, faculty and students joined the Weiss-Livnat family in mourning the passing of Yitzhak Livnat.

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Newsletter: Spring 2017

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Newsletter: Spring 2017

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 successful. As we are getting ready to begin our Spring semester, we would like to share a few of the successes we’ve had this year with you.


Our students looking for original historical material at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum archives, preparing for the publication of a catalog in the Holocaust Art class, February 2017.

A new book by our faculty:
The Creation of German-Jewish-Diaspora: German-Jewish immigration to Palestine, the United States and England,
Prof. Hagit Lavsky

Lavsky_Hagit2We are fortunate to have Professor Hagit Lavsky work with our students in a number of capacities, including lecturer, and academic advisor. We are proud to announce that Prof. Lavsky has recently published another book, The Creation of the German-Jewish Diaspora: Interwar German-Jewish immigration to Palestine, the United States and England. This book has been a labor of love for Prof. Lavsky, she started the research process more than ten years ago; she used archives in Israel, Britain, the USA, and Germany.

In her book, Prof. Lavsky reveals the complex connection between the socio-economic profile varieties and the decisions about when and where to immigrate and compares the life of immigrants in the three major overseas destinations: Palestine (then under the British Mandate), the United States and England. Interwar emigration from Germany did not start in 1933 – the crucial year of the Nazi access to power. In fact, during the 1920s tens of thousands of Germans and German Jews emigrated mainly because of economic factors, partly this had to do with the economic crisis in Germany following WWI and partly due to the Great Depression. Another factor was the rising Anti-Semitism. Most German Jewish immigrants went to the United States and a minority came to Palestine. The few thousand Jews that immigrated to Palestine during the 1920s were the ones to set up an infrastructure for immigrating German Jews after the Nazi access to power in 1933.

Following the rise of Hitler, emigration grew dramatically, but encompassed only a minority among German Jews. Many of the early emigrants, between the years 1933 and 1935, went to Palestine. Immigration to the United States was very limited since 1924 on, and particularly following the economic crisis of 1929. In contrast, Mandate Palestine was prospering in the first half of the 1930s, and became the most open overseas destination to Jewish immigrants. Palestine also benefited from the Transfer Agreement between the Jewish Agency and the Nazi government that gave preference to immigrants to Palestine by enabling them to transfer their capital.

At this time, it was natural for young Jewish people to emigrate from Germany. They had more prospects there than elsewhere, In Germany many Jews were not allowed to work, specifically in the wide German public sector. As a result, most of the emigrants were young and of white-collar professional background.

To some extent, there were other socio-economic factors that shaped the emigrants’ decisions where to immigrate to. For example, in order to get a visa to the United States most needed an affidavit proving they would not become a burden on the public. Immigrants with no capital coming to Palestine didn’t need individual affidavits but had the guarantee of the Jewish Agency within an agreed quota. Prof. Lavsky deduced that more wealthy Jews immigrated to the United States and England while those less endowed went to Palestine. Of course, Zionism also was considered in this discussion.

Until 1938, German Jews were harassed in many ways, but there was no orchestrated governmental threat on their lives. For most of them, there were very poor opportunities and the idea of emigration was stressful. To claim that German Jews did not flee from Germany before 1938 because they were blindly in love with Germany is “nonsense.” In 1938 there was no choice anymore but to try and flee, the USA and England became slightly more flexible but there was no chance for most of those refuge seekers, who were trapped in Germany and doomed among other victims of the Holocaust.

The book includes individual stories as illustrations for the greater breadth of history covered. For example, Prof. Lavsky’s parents were among those immigrating to Palestine as early as 1933 and she discusses their story in the narrative, among other illustrative stories. Prof. Lavsky compares her family and other stories of immigration and adaptation in Palestine to other stories of immigrants in the United States and England.

Prof. Lavsky’s other books:
New Beginnings

Before Catastrophe

Our faculty member wins prestigious award:
Dr. Lea David Receives a Marie Curie Fellowship

To best announce this news, we thought we would interview Dr. Lea David about her experience.

leaQ: How did you find out about this award?
A: Well, to be honest, whoever is in this research “business” dreams of getting Marie Curie fellowship – Europe’s most competitive and prestigious award funded by the European European Commission. I don’t know when I heard about it for the first time, but it was on my “wish list” since I started developing my identity as a researcher.

Q: What was the application process like?
A: The application process is extremely unfriendly, long and tiring – it takes great amount of nerves and patience to apply for the fellowship! It is even more complicated for non-Europeans that are not familiar with the application format and the jargon one needs to use to get the application ready.

Q: What will you be directing your studies toward?
A: Both Holocaust and genocide historiographies are heavily shaped and influenced by human rights infrastructures, resulting in discourses, practices and recently also memorialization policies that impact back on nationalist ideologies. During my two-year long Marie Curie fellowship, I will investigate the ways in which the human rights understanding of memorialization processes advocates, understands, promotes and mandates supposedly universal memorialization standards, asking whether in so doing it weakens or by contrast, often strengthens ethnic nationalism. Five case studies will be comparatively analyzed: Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Israel and Palestine. Hopefully, my research will provide a new perspective on the impact that mandating human rights memorialization standards has on the perception of the “self” and “other” and nationalist ideologies.

Q: Who is Prof. Sinisa Malesevic, and what made you want to work with him?
A: Prof. Sinisa Malesevic is a world leading expert on the comparative-historical and theoretical study of ethnicity, nationalism, ideology, war, violence, genocide and sociological theory and author of six books, five edited volumes and over 70 peer-reviewed articles. Not only is Prof. Malesevic a brilliant scholar but he is an excellent and dedicated mentor and most importantly very nice person with great sense of humor, which is, frankly, of enormous importance for me.

Q: Will you be studying in Dublin?
A: Staring from September 2017, I will be hosted by the School of Sociology, at University College Dublin (UCD), the largest and the best department for sociological research in Ireland. I will receive there additional training and conduct my research. I will have my own office space with all the necessary utilities, so writing a full-length manuscript is my ultimate goal.

Q: Any other comments you would like add?
A: With the cutting-edge research on Holocaust and genocide related issues, I am positive that once I am back in Israel, the “Marie Curie experience” will make my involvement with the MA Holocaust program in Haifa even more significant and substantial as, needless to say, those issues affect thousands of lives around the globe in many unpredictable ways and are in the very heart of the current political and policy making trends.

Prof. Jan Grabowski Offers
Online Course to Our Students

grabowski_smallHistorian, Dr. Jan Grabowski, will be visiting the University of Haifa in May to film an online course which will be available to our students in October 2017. The course will be about the Jews of Poland during the war. Currently, Dr. Grabowski is a Full Professor at the University of Ottawa. He is also the co-founder of the Polish Centre for Holocaust research at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (Warsaw). His MA is in History from Warsaw University, Poland, and his PhD is from the  Université de Montréal. He specializes in Polish Jewish relations during the Holocaust, he is also a prolific writer in the topic. At the University of Ottawa he teaches undergraduate and graduate course on the Holocaust.

Students of Cohort V

John RoxboroughJohn

Trinidad and Tobago
United States
BS in Mass Communications from Florida International University

“The field of Holocaust studies offers me the opportunity to study material that is the focus of my upcoming documentary film.
Visiting the places in Poland and Germany where many brave souls eventually lost their lives will give context to the stories of the survivors, and enrich my own understanding of the lives that were lived under the most trying of circumstances.”

HanaHana Green

United States
BA in History from the University of Florida

“This program is exceptional. Having the opportunity to pursue a graduate degree in Israel with a renowned staff of educators, engaging coursework and a supportive community of colleagues is astounding. I am so grateful for the opportunity to intern at Yad Vashem and participate in a wide range of interdisciplinary extracurricular activities offered by the program such as field trips and seminars across the country as well as a study tour in Poland.”

Avshalom NachmaniAvi

BA in Middle Eastern Studies and Political Science from Ben Gurion University

“Coming to Haifa once a week is a blessed break for me. The courses, the students, the overall atmosphere, it allows me to free my mind and truly learn something new.
On the long drive home I usually organize my thoughts, process what I learned and think how to translate it into my teaching.
I’m constantly amazed by the guest lectures in the research forum and by the relevance of the courses.
I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to attend this program.”

MoiraMoira LaMountain

United States
BA in History from the University of Albany

“One of the things I love most about the program is the opportunity to study Yiddish. I studied a little Yiddish previous to the program and understood how important, particularly with regards to Eastern European Jewry, the language is. I get questioning looks every time I mention I study Yiddish, but when I’m able to translate documents from the Holocaust that have gone untouched and forgotten, it opens up a door into that writer’s life and experience that had been unknown previously. That person is no longer just another victim or number, they have a personality and a story that gets to be told. I’m incredibly thankful that the University of Haifa has allowed me to continue my studies in Yiddish and offered me the chance to use what I’ve learned towards furthering our understanding of the Holocaust.”

Research Forum Lecture | Excavations at Sobibor

Since 2007, Israeli Archaeologist, Yoram Haimi, and Polish Archaeologist, Wojciech Mazurek, have been excavating at the former Reinhard Extermination Camp site, which was created by the SS in Sobibor, occupied Poland. Yoram came to share his research with Cohort V for a Research Forum lecture. All that had been known about Sobibor before the excavation was from about 50 survivors. From their testimonies, historians have made educated guesses on what the camp must have looked like and what happened there. After the uprising in October 1943, the Nazis razed the camp and planted trees to hide their crimes.


The excavation has revealed some inaccuracies of what has been thought about Sobibor and also proved historian’s theories. The project has made a completely new map of the camp. Originally the major goal of the project was to find the gas chambers. After 7 years they found the foundations of the gas chambers under asphalt which was laid as a foundation to two Polish memorials that were constructed at Sobibor following the war. In the process they found a lot of other details which made the story of Sobibor more complete, such as the escape tunnel that some of the survivors have mentioned.

Sobibor was built in March 1942, as well as other death camps, Treblinka and Bełżec as a part of Operation Reinhard. From April 1942 to October 1943 about 250,000 Jews were murdered at Sobibor. Just like the other death camps there were three main sections of the camp: reception, administration, and extermination. At any one time only about 100 Jews lived at Sobibor. They were forced to aid in the extermination of their own people. Of these workers, around 50 survivor. Their testimonies constructed what was known of Sobibor, now the excavations complete this information.


The excavation has revealed some inaccuracies of what has been thought about Sobibor and also proved historian’s theories. The project has made a completely new map of the camp. Originally the major goal of the project was to find the gas chambers. After 7 years they found the foundations of the gas chambers under asphalt which was laid as a foundation to two Polish memorials that were constructed at Sobibor following the war. In the process they found a lot of other details which made the story of Sobibor more complete, such as the escape tunnel that some of the survivors have mentioned.

Sobibor was built in March 1942, as well as other death camps, Treblinka and Bełżec as a part of Operation Reinhard. From April 1942 to October 1943 about 250,000 Jews were murdered at Sobibor. Just like the other death camps there were three main sections of the camp: reception, administration, and extermination. At any one time only about 100 Jews lived at Sobibor. They were forced to aid in the extermination of their own people. Of these workers, around 50 survivor. Their testimonies constructed what was known of Sobibor, now the excavations complete this information.


The excavation includes a team of Polish people from the area, and volunteers. One of our students from Cohort II volunteered and wrote a blog post about it. You can read it here.

For more information, check out the articles below:

Yad Vashem

Leiden News

The Independent

Der Spiegel

Research Forum Lecture | Night Will Fall

This semester in the Research Forum our students watched the documentary “Night Will Fall.” The film retells the story of liberation using film from British archives shot in 1945. The British government used this raw footage to create a film titled, “German Concentration Camps Factual Survey.” The original footage reveals a small portion of the horrors the liberators found, yet the images are overwhelming. Director, Andre Singer, explores the significance of the original British documentary which remained untouched in archives for 70 years.


Much of the footage from different liberations in 1945 concentrate on the shocking, inhumane conditions within the camps, showing graphic content. Singer included survivors and liberators in the film which gave the images context. They identified themselves in different segments of film, many of the survivors remembered being filmed and relayed their impressions of this and so much more.


Singer’s documentary also discusses the historical impact of the original film from 1945. After the 1945 documentary, “German Concentration Camps Factual Survey,” was completed they decided not to show it anywhere, and put it in archives, where Andre Singer found it. The film would have been shown as a sort of “atrocity propaganda” but the British government felt that it would not be conducive to the de-nazifacation process. The questions “Night Will Fall” addresses are: Is it appropriate to show the truth? Would this film have furthered tensions between Germans and the Allies? Who is responsible for making these decisions: governments or individuals?


Regardless, the documentary is a reminder of the dark potential of humanity. The title of the documentary was derived from narration from the original 1945 film, “Unless the world learns the lesson these pictures teach, night will fall.”

Before you open these links, know that there are very graphic images shown:

you can see the full trailer here:

or you can access the full film here:

New Theses Our Students Published

Representation of the Haredi Communities in Holocaust Museums in Israel

Lisa_KrebsLisa Krebs
BA in Theology and Religion from the University of Birmingham
Cohort II


Museums display their materials and subjects with unique perspectives, often influenced by the museum’s vision. Holocaust Museums in Israel are no exception, and whilst the museums all explore the topic of Holocaust, they each present a different narrative. In turn, groups from different parts of society that endured the Holocaust will have had different experiences. This study explores four different Holocaust museums in Israel (Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum, Yad Vashem, Testimony House and Chamber of the Holocaust) and how they display and exhibit the experience of the Haredi communities during the Holocaust. This examination will delve into the different ways that museums utilize artifacts, photographs and the written narrative, and to what extent these represent Haredi communities.

The thesis first introduces the theoretical underpinning of the study, including definitions of Haredim and discussion of museums and Holocaust museums in particular. The first, second and third chapters then explore how artifacts, photographs and written narrative are used to represent the Haredi communities in these museums’ displays respectively. The thesis shows that mission statements of museums and the communities that commissioned and established them, heavily influence the exhibitions, which in turn influences the way and extent that Haredi communities are discussed and displayed.

Concern for Others in Nazi Germany: 
Searching for Markers of Empathy in Germans’ Emotional Responses to the Persecution of the Jews, 1933-1945

Ronit.jpgRonit Roth-Hanania

BA in Psychology from Tel Aviv University, MA in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College at Columbia University, PhD in Applied Developmental Psychology from Fordham University
Cohort I

The Persecution of the Jews under the National Socialist regime began in 1933 and ended with the destruction of European Jewry in 1945. During the years of Hitler’s rule, Jews were excluded, segregated, haunted, and finally, annihilated. Such happened at first in Germany and later in the occupied territories all over Europe.

This study focused on three historical periods in search of markers of empathy in the emotional responses of ‘ordinary Germans’ to the persecution of the Jews. At the time, the Nazi administration had under its control, a network of 30,000 agents and informants that reported on the opinions, reactions and mood of the German public with regard to the administration’s actions in general and its anti-Jewish measures in particular. Historians’ analyses of the reactions of Germans as they were portrayed in the ‘secret’ reports were the foundation for the overall agreement between Holocaust scholars, that the German public at large was indifferent to the fate of the Jews in Germany. The indifferent apathetic population was seen therefore, not merely as innocent bystanders to the ongoing persecution, but rather as passive partners to the active Nazi mass murder of the Jews.

Empathy is an inborn, vicarious socio-economic response that is evoked in an observer when seeing another in distress. The empathetic response is composed of three major components: an emotional component which is expressed through feelings of concern, the feeling for the other person, sympathy or compassion; a cognitive component that includes all attempts to inquire and/or better understand the other’s situation and state; and a behavioral component which is usually expressed through pro-social helping behavior, assisting, rescuing, or exhibiting altruism. In the present study, personal accounts of a hundred ‘ordinary Germans,’ including letters, memoirs, diaries, interviews, testimonies and surveys were reviewed and analyzed in search of markers of empathy. These primary sources were compared and contrasted with the Nazi secret reports, in order to uncover discrepancies, if exist, between what the official documents suggest was the overall response of the German public and what individuals felt and experienced in response to the Jews’ maltreatment.

In all three periods, comparison of sources suggested that while the secret reports portrayed a picture of an indifferent public, in fact, ‘ordinary Germans’ expressed concern and sympathy towards the Jews’ situation and have also inquired and searched for information on their whereabouts. This study proposes therefore, that ordinary individuals in Germany between 1933 and 1945 felt empathy towards the Jews. These emotions were kept secret, were expressed in private writings, or discussed only in a close and secure circle of friends and families. Since no overt pro-social actions were taken nor was protest expressed in the open, the German population was perceived and tagged by historians as indifferent participants in the Jew’s genocide

Internships in Israel

We offer our students a rich variety of internship opportunities in Israel and abroad. Whether it is researching, curating or educating, our students get hands-on experience. Alexa is interning with Holocaust survivors and working with AMCHA, The Israeli Center for Psychological and Social Support for Holocaust survivors and their families; Meredith is interning at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum and Archives and Eugenia’s internship provides her with a research opportunity at the “Deportation of Jews” project at Yad Vashem. They have answered our questions about their experience, as had Wei (Aaron) Zhang, who recently returned from his internship at the Jewish Museum in Berlin.
Learn more about our internship program here. 

Alexa || AMCHA

 Alexa is from California, US.
Her BA is in Persuasive Communications from IDC Herzliya.

alexaQ: What will you be doing at with AMCHA?
A: At AMCHA, I will be working one on one with a Holocaust survivor. Visiting and spending time with them once a week. It’s an opportunity for survivors to develop a new connection with someone and for me it’s a huge privilege to hear their story.

Q: What makes you most excited to be working with AMCHA ?
A: AMCHA is a very special organization that does a huge service to Holocaust survivors and their children, the opportunity to develop a working relationship with them is a rare opportunity.

Q: What brought you working with AMCHA?
A: I was attracted to working with AMCHA for personal reasons. My grandmother was a Holocaust survivor and I was lucky to have had the chance to spend time with her in her later years after I moved to Israel. She passed away two years ago, but I will always treasure our time together. To meet and spend time with another survivor, someone else’s grandmother, is not only an amazing learning opportunity but also an opportunity to do something good for my soul.

Q: Who will you be working with? or who would you like to volunteer with?
A: The volunteer coordinator at AMCHA has been very helpful in pairing me with a survivor who can help with my thesis research. My area of study within Holocaust research is on the psychological impact of the Holocaust for women on motherhood and family life post Holocaust. I have been set up with a female survivor who is open to discussing this topic with me. This is a primary resource that I could never have found elsewhere.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: AMCHA is a wonderful organization dedicated to providing counseling and trauma services for Holocaust survivors and their children. I am honored to have the opportunity to work with them.

Meredith || Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum

 Meredith is from Upstate New York, US.
Her BA is in History from Alfred University.

MeredithQ: What will you be doing at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum? (what are you leaning toward researching?)
A: This year we have a small handful of students who have internships at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum. A few weeks ago we met with Anat Bratman- Elhalel, Head of Archives. She oriented us with the museum and she gave us an idea of what we will be doing for our internships. We will be picking artifacts from the archives to research for ourselves. We can direct our research to fit our areas of interest. I’m specifically interested in art in the Holocaust. The Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum has an amazing collection of art made at transit camps, concentration camps and ghettos.

Q: What makes you most excited to be working at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum?
A: Last semester, I took the Ghez Collection Course. During the course of the semester, the students chose different artists to research. I chose to do my research on Adolphe Feder, a Polish resistance fighter and artist, he was killed at Auschwitz. Sima Feder, Adolphe’s wife, survived the Holocaust, she smuggled all of her husband’s artwork out of Drancy and donated them to the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum. I would like to work with Feder’s work again. He has amazing use of color and expression, and his story is little known but important.

Q: What brought you working with the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum?
A: Eila Perkis, the internship coordinator, interviewed us about our internships and what we wanted out of them, I told her that I wanted to work with art. She said, “Oh, then you should be at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum.” I didn’t know much about the museum at that point, but now I’m so delighted to be working with them. It’s an honor to be working at the first established Holocaust Museum, their archives are impressive.

Q: Who will you be working with?
A: We’ll be working directly with Anat, the Head of Archives.

Q: What is your area of speciality within Holocaust Studies?
A: I would say that my area of interest is Art History in the Holocaust. At the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum I will be able to concentrate solely on art in my research.

Eugenia || Yad Vashem

Eugenia is from Romania.
Her BA is in Journalism from Hyperion University and BA in Jewish Studies from University of Bucharest. She also has an MA in Hebrew Culture and Civilization from the University of Bucharest

eugeniaQ: What will you be doing at Yad Vashem?
A: The project I am working with is called Deportations of Jews – a Yad Vashem project that started in 2007. The International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem has been studying the organized deportations of Jews as an extensive phenomenon. The resulting database will reconstruct all the transports that took place during the Holocaust from territories of the Third Reich, from countries under German occupation, from the Axis states and from the satellite states.
I am working on documents in Romanian, identifying all the relevant material about the transports from Romania during the Holocaust.

Q: What makes you most excited to be working at Yad Vashem?
A: As an MA student at the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies at the University of Haifa I had the opportunity to meet Professors and Researchers from Yad Vashem. They lectured about different topics on the Holocaust and WWII, how to read articles from an analytical point of view, how to write and much more. At Yad Vashem, I’m learning how to research on a new level.
Last but not least, the project Deportations is interesting and challenging. We have a blank map and an enormous database that helps us fill it with content. The database has been constructed from a wide variety of: documents, research, legal material, survivors’ testimonies and memoirs. And we connect them creating the journey of Jews from the moment they were thrown out from their home in a tiny village or town till the moment they ended up in a camp.

Q: What brought you working with Yad Vashem?
A: MA students at the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies have this amazing internship opportunity and many others. For an MA student who wants to do research in the future this is the normal path to follow.

Q: Who will you be working with?
A: Dr. Joel Zisenwine is the Project Director. He and Ms. Aviv Shashar, the Project Coordinator and Researcher, are the ones who guide me as an intern.

Q: What is your area of specialty within Holocaust Studies?
A: I am interested in Memory Studies, working mainly on testimonies of Holocaust survivors from Transnistria. I started my research at the “Elie Wiesel” National Institute for the Study of Holocaust in Romania as an intern.

International Internship

Jewish Museum Berlin:
Written by: Wei (Aaron) Zhang

 Wei (Aaron) is from China.
He has a BA and MA in German Studies from Sichuan International Studies University. He was in our fourth cohort so he also has an MA in Holocaust Studies.

Two German-speaking students are selected and given the opportunity to work at the Jewish Berlin museum’s main exhibit and other select projects. This prestigious opportunity is award by a small committee in the Weiss-Livnat International MA in Holocaust Studies Program. We are delighted to provide this experience for our students. Wei gained experience and offered a lot to the Jewish Museum Berlin. 

I had the honor to participate in a 4-week internship at Jewish Museum Berlin, one of the largest and best Jewish museums in the world, working with the team for the new permanent exhibition. It has been a wonderful enrichment for my Holocaust Studies in the University of Haifa.


6-translation-workBecause my internship was very short I consulted with my tutor and other colleagues in the museum and we decided to make the internship two major parts: learning and contributing. My first project was to get a general picture how a large museum like this works, especially when it comes to teamwork for the permanent exhibition, and gain a better understanding of the Jewish culture and history through all the resources in Berlin and nearby; second, I worked in the archives related to Shanghai and contributed to it.Last year while I was attending a curating lecture during a four-day study with my classmates at Yad Vashem I was attracted to an artifact which was not yet shown to the public – a red scarf from Ravensbrück concentration camp with a Chinese signature at the bottom.


After this, I always wanted to know more about the fate of this lady. While working at the Museum archives, I was able to arrange a private meeting with Peter Plieninger, Chairman of the Friends of the Ravensbrück Memorial, at a local café. It was a wonderful experience, it helped me understand the background of this camp so that I could explore more about the mysterious Chinese lady in the Ravensbrück concentration camp.


The story of this special Chinese lady began to unfold itself: she was accused of being agent and was imprisoned by the Nazis. She was born as daughter of a Chinese diplomat, and spent her childhood in Spain, Cuba and China, so could speak Spanish, Chinese, French, English, German fluently. She was stationed as an honorary colonel in the Chinese army in 1920s in Manchuria. She was trained lawyer and pilot. She was the mistress of the feminist American playwright Natalie Clifford Barney in Paris in 1930s, and spied against Germany in 1940s. The keywords of her life like cross-dressing, female pilot and colonel, lesbian lifestyle, resistance against Nazis as a Chinese agent, etc are just so unusual and legendary for a woman in her time. However, for the most part, her life remains mysterious. Until now she was unknown in Chinese historical documents and literature.


Berlin, Kreuzberg, Juedisches Museum [ © Günter Schneider, Brussaer Weg 17, 12109 Berlin, Postbank Berlin Kto. 415097102, BLZ 10010010

In my internship I also handled artifacts concerning the life of Jewish refugees in Shanghai. Through the online archives of the museum I was able to browse most of the related artifacts. With my knowledge of the Chinese language and background, I found and corrected some inaccuracies in the description or dating of these objects. At Jewish Museum Berlin I was assigned the task of translating some Chinese texts formerly owned by the Jewish residents of Shanghai Ghetto into English. It was so exciting to have hands on experience with these objects, which have survived more than 70 years, and to imagine how these things once were related to the daily life of their owners.

Polin Museum:
Written by: Devra Katz

 Devra is from the United States.
Her BA is in in History and Sociology from The University of Texas in Austin. She is from our first cohort so she also has her MA in Holocaust Studies. Our program has an established relationship with the POLIN Museum, which provides our students with the opportunity to participate in a summer seminar there. This article was written by Devra Katz, who did the seminar last summer. 


This past summer I had the privilege of participating in the POLIN Meeting Point Summer Education School hosted at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland.  The program, a two-week seminar, invited students from Germany, Poland, and Israel to come together and, using various methodologies, explore issues related to post World War II reconstruction in Poland and Germany, and the emergence of Israeli statehood and citizenship.  This topic sparked very interesting and illuminating discussions among the students and brought to light issues of national narratives and identity politics in Poland, Germany, and Israel.

The program incorporated a multifaceted, interdisciplinary approach in order to engage participants and enhance the learning environment.  First and foremost, the seminar invited numerous prestigious scholars from Poland, Germany, and Israel to speak to the group.  Some of the best in their field, the guest scholars gave very interesting, informative, and engaging presentations which generated enlightening discussions that continued beyond the length of each session. This approach and these lectures were some of the more special aspects of the program.  Through these discussions, our international group got the opportunity to really get to know one another and delve deeper into various narratives – personal, political, historical, and national – experienced by all the participants and their various home countries.

In addition to the scholarship, we spent a great deal of time touring historic Warsaw and many sites in the city relevant to World War II, the Holocaust, and the years following the war.  Among these sites were the former Warsaw ghetto, Paviak prison, the Jewish cemetery, various monuments around the city, the Jewish Historical Institute, and many more.  We were also given access to the museum’s archives and research facilities allowing us to engage relevant material and to search for documents relevant to family histories or other research projects.  Furthermore, the group spent two days visiting the city of Wroclaw, where a Polish graduate from the Weiss-Livnat program guided us through the city’s Jewish, pre-war, and post-war history.  During the program we participated in several workshops about oral history and completed final projects using oral history interviews we conducted during the seminar.  This very packed program made for a well rounded and insightful two weeks of study, participation in cross-cultural dialogue, and a unique opportunity to meet and work with peers in our respective fields from diverse backgrounds.

The various aspects of this program provided a wonderful platform to learn a great deal, experience post-war Poland first hand, meet great people from different countries, and foster relationships, both professional and personal, that have carried on beyond the scope of the seminar.  As a student in the Weiss-Livnat International MA in Holocaust Studies program, this is just one of the many opportunities I have been afforded to expand my education, travel to places significant to the subject of the Holocaust and to my research, and grow as a scholar and global citizen.

One of the primary purposes of the POLIN Meeting Point program was to initiate dialogue between German, Polish, and Israeli students and work to build relationships at the grassroots level between the three countries.  I am very grateful for having participated in the program and I feel that my anticipation and expectations for this seminar were truly surpassed.  Originally from the United States, I am also still learning the Israeli national narratives and sentiments, and participation in this program furthered my understanding of the society in which I live and the community in which I learn. My time as a student in the Weiss-Livnat program has been enriched by participating in partner programs such as the POLIN Meeting Point, and I am thankful for the contribution it has made to my education and life experiences.

Dapim | Studies on the Holocaust
New Issue!


Volume 30-3
Special Issue
Holocaust Commemoration:
New Trends in Museums and Memorials

A new edition of Dapim has been published!
Find this issue online at:

Dapim – Studies on the Holocaust, is the interdisciplinary academic journal of the  Strochlitz Institute for Holocaust Research. Dapim is devoted to the interdisciplinary study of the Holocaust, the Second World War and anti-Semitism. Scholars from around the world contribute to this journal, and we are excited to share our most recent issue with you.

Editors: Michal Aharony and Gavriel D. Rosenfeld
Guest editor: James E. Young

We are excited to share our most recent issue with you, a special issue on “New Trends in Museums and Memorials.” The essays explore the theme of Holocaust commemoration from an interdisciplinary perspective, presenting the insights of historians, sociologists, literary critics, and museum curators. Their articles examine a wide range of Holocaust museums and memorials across the globe: in Germany, Austria, Poland, Lithuania, Israel, United States, and Australia. They address a series of significant questions involving the ethics, aesthetics, and politics of representing the Holocaust: To what extent should Holocaust museums and memorials encompass other genocides and mass atrocities? How have artistic and architectural priorities shaped the designs of Holocaust museums and memorials? How do competing political interests and viewpoints shape Holocaust commemoration in different countries?

The volume includes the following nine articles: “Holocaust and Heroism in the Process of Establishing Yad Vashem (1942–1970)” by Doron Bar; “Is Eastern European ‘Double Genocide’ Revisionism Reaching Museums?” by Dovid Katz; “From the Periphery to the Center of Memory: Holocaust Memorials in Vienna” by Heidemarie Uhl; “Transmitting the Survivor’s Voice: Redeveloping the Sydney Jewish Museum” by Avril Alba; “Mixed Metaphors in Muranów: Architectural Metaphors and Meaning at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw,” by Gavriel D. Rosenfeld; “Yad Layeled at the Ghetto Fighters’ House: A Museum about Children in the Holocaust or a Museum for Children about the Holocaust?” by Nadav Heidecker; “Genocide and Relevance: Current Trends in United States Holocaust Museums” by Leah Sievers; “Subjects of Memory? On Performing Holocaust Memory in Two German Historical Museums” by Irit Dekel; “The Poetics of Memory: Aesthetics and Experience of Holocaust Remembrance in Museums” by Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich.

The issue’s nine essays explore a variety of common issues dealing with Holocaust representation in the contemporary urban environment. Readers of the essays—like visitors to the memorials and museums that are discussed in them—will no doubt come away with different insights and draw different conclusions about the changing ways in which the Holocaust is being commemorated around the world.  What these essays uniformly confirm, however, is that Holocaust commemoration continues to be a subject of intense scholarly interest.

Inquiries and requests to submit  materials to “Dapim – Studies on the Holocaust” should be sent to

The editors invite the submission of original articles in all areas of Holocaust Studies, including:

-Nazi policies against the Jews and other racial and genocidal programs
-Jewish responses to Nazism (in and outside of Europe)
-Nazi propaganda
-Ghettos and camps
-European collaboration
-War crimes trials
-Survivor testimony
-Commemoration and Museology
-World War II and its aftermath
-Holocaust literature, drama, film, art, etc.

The prize of $ 1000 (U.S. dollars) will be awarded to the best article as selected by a panel of judges. The competition is open to graduate students as well as established scholars.

We welcome submissions of 7,000-10,000 words (including footnotes) written in English and formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style.

Manuscripts should be sent to the editorial office at
To be considered for the prize all submissions should be received by the end of December 2017.

All approaches and methodologies are welcome.



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!

Newsletter: Fall 2016

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Newsletter: Fall 2016

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. We are very excited to have started our fifth year of the MA studies. The new cohort is a diverse and highly skilled and intelligent group. We look forward to sharing their stories with you throughout the year.

Arieh Kochavi and Yael Granot-Bein

Opening Seminar of Cohort V with Guest Lecturer Professor Steven Katz



A few days before the start of the new academic year, the students of Cohort V in the Weiss-Livnat program of Holocaust studies participated in an opening seminar. The day started with a speech made by Prof. Arieh Kochavi, head of the program, followed by presentation of the faculty staff and students themselves.


During the opening seminar, Prof. Steven Katz, director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies at Boston University, spoke on the topic of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust.

Prof. Katz’s lecture gave the new students, a glimpse into one of the many debates in Holocaust research, which is the complex question regarding the existence of resistance actions in the Holocaust among the victims, as well as the philosophical question of what is considered resistance activity under various definitions.


The lecture started by defining two opposing approaches to resistance. The first approach judges the existence and success of the resistance acts on the basis of the actual consequences of those actions, which were mostly unsuccessful. The second approach focuses on whether the actions made were following initial conscious intentions to stand against the caused atrocities and not surrender. In this approach, such conscious acts count as a successful resistance activity, regardless of their result.

Prof. Katz stated that he supports the more humanistic second approach that says that emphasizes intentions. To emphasize his statement Prof. Katz indicated a number of possible factors for lack of resistance, such as geographical differences between the many ghettos and camps, indifference of the local society surrounding the Jews, demographical and political diversity inside the Jewish communities that caused obstacles for attempts to organize, such as dealing with strong opposition to resistance inside the community in the ghettos or camps.


When those factors, combined with the poor physical conditions and the immediate risk, are put together, it allows us to understand that it is also possible to look at non-violent actions such as immigration as acts of resistance. Moreover, daily actions can be treated as constant deeds of resistance as well if they are made with appropriate intention and aspiration to keep the victim’s dignity in spite of being labeled as sub-humans. Those daily actions could come in the form of holding on tightly to religion and culture, or simply humanity.

From that perspective, like Prof. Katz mentioned, those daily actions not only contradict the question of why there was no impactful resistance among the victims during the Holocaust, but conversely raises the question of why there were so many acts of resistance.


By presenting all those thought provoking anecdotes, Prof. Steven Katz showed how broad and complex the topic of the Holocaust is and how many questions without easy answers are included in it.

Starting the academic year with such a lecture, made the students excited and eager to jump in and explore this period of time in human history during their upcoming studies at the University of Haifa.

New Students of Cohort V



Chenda Seang
BA in English from Norton University


Paige Massey
United States
BA in Philosophy from Pepperdine University



Yael Marganit
BA in Psychology from the Open University



Jasmine Munn-McDonnell
Honours Degree in History, and a Bachelor of International Studies from the University of Adeliade

Polin Workshop

The following is written by Lindsay Shapiro about her experience at Polin Museum:


This summer, four of our students were selected to participate in the Summer Meeting Point conference at the POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews in Warsaw. This conference brought together 40 Israel, German and Polish students of all different degree backgrounds, experiences and heritages to learn about their shared history. This year’s seminar focused on post-WWII reconstruction, the establishment of the State of Israel, and evolving identities in Poland and Germany. The program featured a list of established professors, scholars and historians to discuss the postwar violence, trauma, reconciliation and rebirth. Students got to participate in many different types of learning experiences during the two-week seminar, including lectures, workshops, film screenings and discussions, and in-depth tours of the newly opened POLIN Museum. 


Students continued to learn from one another as they shared all three meals together every day, either at the Museum’s Bisamim restaurant or at local restaurants and cafes around Warsaw. Each meal was filled with students engaging in casual conversation with one another, asking questions about each others’ heritage, national customs and personal lives. Throughout the seminar students grew increasingly close with one another. Lindsay Shapiro, fourth cohort of the Weiss-Livnat MA Program, said “One of the best parts of the seminar was getting a chance to meet people I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to otherwise, and learn from them. I’m really lucky that all of the other students were pretty open to discussion about some deep topics, so I got to learn not just from the professors but from my peers as well. I also got the opportunity to share my experience as a student coming from Israel.”


In addition to learning about the history of postwar relationships, the POLIN seminar also utilized oral history and student projects to which created a shared history and mutual respect. Students were divided into mixed German-Israeli-Polish groups to conduct interview with original sources on their memories of WWII, year following the war, and the role that home played in their postwar lives.


In addition to learning within the Museum, students also had some experiential learning. They went on small group tours around the site of the Warsaw Ghetto, part of which is now occupied by the POLIN Museum. They also got to meet and tour with local experts on Warsaw to explore the new city of Warsaw in contrast with what the city was in 1939, prior to the onset of the war. Israeli student, Jason Hochman from the Fourth cohort of our program recalled, “I was fortunate enough to interact and meet with members of the current Jewish community of Warsaw and learn a little about the growing albeit small community that exists today as well as the different types of denominations of Judaism practiced by the community. It was truly an amazing experience.” The entire group, including visiting professors from Israel and Germany, took a two-day trip to Wrocław, west of Poland, to experience this different city, learn about its Jewish history and WWII past. They were even given a tour by a Weiss-Livnat alumnus, Jan Kirstenbaum, who now works in Wrocław educating on the city’s Jewish history.


The seminar culminated with a special Shabbat dinner at a local kosher restaurant, which included many members of the Nissembaum family, one of the main donors of the program. Students, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, got to experience Shabbat together in a warm, tasty and joyous meal, which ended with singing in five different languages- Yiddish, Polish, German, English and Hebrew. On the last day of the program, the POLIN Museum hosted an open gallery curated by participants of the program, in which they displayed their oral history projects to both the Nissembaum family and the general public. Projects included an interactive pop-up exhibit filled with belongings take one might haven taken when fleeing from their home, a video project based on student testimonies about the cultural side of the Holocaust, an app in which personal histories can be recorded and mapped, and many more. The final event was a panel discussion with student participants, and finally a closing graduation ceremony. It was a unique and incredible experience for all students involved. “The Meeting Poland Meeting Point Summer Program at the POLIN Museum, was one of the best experiences I have ever had. Being able to meet, make connections, and friendships with other Israeli, Polish and German students was really special,” said Hochman.


Director Ronen Zaretzsky, Survivor, Kazik Rotem, and The Last Fighter Film

ronenEarlier in the summer semester, writer and director Ronen Zaretzsky joined our class to screen his documentary, The Last Fighters, which details the lives of the surviving members of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The 2006 film traveled to Poland, Israel and Canada to visit the aging fighters and get their views on both the past and the present. It centered on a reunion between many of the living members of the Uprising in Poland, where they were honored by the Polish government for their heroic acts on the 60th anniversary of the Uprising. Many of these fighters’ own communities and neighbors do not know their stories. It began with Marek Edelman, one of the icons of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, who then was living in Lodz. His strong Bundist beliefs kept him in Poland after the war, where he became a heart doctor in order to help people after seeing the horrors of the war.


The film then brought the audience to Israel, where Zaretzsky interviewed Masha Futtermillech and Pnina Greenspan in Tel Aviv, Kazik Rotem in Jerusalem and Aharon Carmi in Kfar Saba. In the documentary, Carmi recalled jumping off a train carrying his family bound for Treblinka and returning on foot to Warsaw. Zaretzsky and his crew then met with Bronek Spiegel in Montreal, whose late wife Haika was also part of the Uprising. Spiegel spoke about his training and preparation for the fight while with the Eyal, a Jewish Fighting Organization created in 1942 after a mass liquidation of the ghetto which left mostly young people still in the ghetto.

In Poland at the reunion, the fighters relive the events of the April 1943 uprising. The film discusses the time-by-time and street-by-street play out of the uprising, how it happened, which building each of the fighters hid in, and when each detail occurred. All 220 fighters were divided into 22 groups, each group with a commander. They were all part of various Jewish youth movements, both Zionist and non. They then discussed their memories, as well as their relationship with the Jewish State and its role with Diaspora Jews.

As many of them were the only surviving members of their families, they needed to build their own lives from new at the end of the war. Pnina discussed the complicated feelings she had with returning to Poland, a country she once called home but then ran away from. After the film screening, Zaretzsky joined our cohort for a question and answer session. A student, Rotem, asked, “Why weren’t members of the Artzi, another movement in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, interviewed?” Zaretzsky said it was because most of them did not survive. Another student, Ziva, asked,  “How do you think the movie affected the survivors?” Zaretzsky replied, “For Masha it affected her a lot. She asked me, ‘Why did it take you so long to talk to me?’ She was very willing to be interviewed, and we had more than 100 hours of interviews with her.” He ended by saying that the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is one of the most unbelievable stories of the 20th century: a group of 200 young people who fight against the Nazi empire. It was the first instance of civilians fighting against the Nazis during the war.


Following this screening and after learning that one of the fighters from the movie, Kazik Rotem, is still living in Israel, our program organized a meeting between students and Rotem in Jerusalem. Our group traveled to Jerusalem to meet with him for the afternoon. He opened himself up for questions and discussion with our group, and told of his experiences during the uprising and his thoughts on life after the war. During the uprising, he was ordered to go to the Aryan side and make contact with Antek Zuckerman. He was only 19 years old at the time. He and his comrades hid in the sewers of Warsaw, walking 3km together with little rations, all while underneath the feet of the Nazis, to escape. While this happened, the Nazis discovered the bunker where the uprising fighters were hiding, including Mordecai Anielewitz, and killed them.

Rotem had successfully, but unknowingly, escaped. When students asked about what he felt at the time, he responded, “We had no intention or thought of surviving the uprising. I never thought I would make it out of there. But we knew we wanted to die fighting, like humans.” He recalled what it was like to take part in the action and spoke of the adrenaline the he felt. Rotem ended the meeting by talking with each student and asking about the diverse backgrounds that make up our program.


Our students unanimously felt that this was one of the most meaningful events of the year, one which left many students at an emotional loss for words. It was an incredible opportunity for our cohort to have an intimate, face-to-face meeting with one of the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and to learn about history from someone who made the history happen. It was also a chance for our program to pay tribute to Rotem and his courageous acts.

New Theses Our Students Published

Chronicle of Destruction: 
The Jews of Raseiniai County during WWII and the Holocaust
Natali Beige
natali_0Although an extensive historiography of the Holocaust in Lithuania exists, very little has been written about the history of the Jewish communities in provincial Lithuania. Most research addresses the history and fate of Lithuania’s largest communities- Vilnius, Kaunas and Šiauliai. However, the provincial towns in Lithuania are crucial to understanding the Holocaust as well as the development and implementation of the “Final Solution” in the history and fate of Lithuania’s largest communities- Vilnius, Kaunas and Šiauliai. However, the provincial towns in Lithuania are crucial to understanding the Holocaust as well as the development and implementation of the “Final Solution” in the area.  Within the last decade studies have raised new issues and questions regarding the Holocaust, and have placed greater emphasis on developments that took place in the rural areas and provinces of Lithuania, but the subject still remains insufficiently studied.
According to the Jäger Report, Raseiniai County was one of the first places where the murder of women and children took place as early as mid-July 1941. Therefore, a thorough examination of Raseiniai County and its Jewish communities raises important issues and questions, and can contribute to scholarship about the rapid and brutal elimination of Jewish towns and villages in provincial Lithuania and the transition to total annihilation.
This study examines the fate of small Jewish towns (Shtetlekh) in Raseiniai County through an integration of a variety of sources. Creating a synthesis of documents, testimonies and literature identifies the stages of persecution and extermination, the relationship between the Germans and the Lithuanians, the connection between bureaucracy and ideology, and the various groups of perpetrators involved in the extermination of the Jews in Raseiniai County. In addition, this study can also shed light on the Holocaust in Lithuania in general in light of the fact that more than 50% of Lithuanian Jewry lived in rural areas and provinces. Furthermore, it raises questions that can be relevant to the destruction of Jewish communities in other rural Eastern European areas when considering factors such as the participation of the local population in the murders, their motivations, and how regional dynamics influenced the development of the Final Solution in those areas.

Holocaust Museums and Artifacts:
Linking History and Culture
Gabriel Mayer
gabrielmayerThis thesis entails an examination of three prominent Holocaust museums: Yad Vashem and Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum (GFH) in Israel and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC.  They were chosen because of a combination of prominence as regards their early inception-the two Israeli museums- and the extent of influence on Holocaust historiography, scholarship, and the related cultural ramifications. Utilizing methodology drawn from the discipline of material culture, much of the work was focused through the lens of artifact collections. Part of the objective was to relate cultural and political influences to museum ethos, and in turn, take notice of the impact of museum development on the culture without. An indirect but unavoidable relationship was noted in the evolution of Holocaust historiography. The methodology consisted of an examination of specifically chosen artifacts from each museum, conducting an in-depth examination of the circumstances related to their acquisition and collection, along with detailed historical analysis of background information of involved individuals, families, communities, and as it turned out toward the end of the exercise, the involvement of the curating staff. The research work included a number of interviews with individuals closely linked and involved during the developmental stages of each museum, along with examination of internal documents, whenever available. An overall viewpoint emerged regarding each museum individually and as relates to Holocaust narrativization in combination. As the work progressed it also became clear, that wholly separate from institutional influence, the artifacts related information (history) accrued from individualized narratives, which remained unaffected by these external forces. Thus the artifacts collections appear to render a “populist” message of witnessing, very much in keeping with personalized memory transmission. The museums were seen as representing an ethos, mostly shared as regards Holocaust narrativization, while the artifacts-individually and as items of acquisition and collections-addressed ethnos, relayed individual agency and represented personalized narritivization.

The Masa to Poland and Kibbutz Narratives of Holocaust Memory:
A Case Study of Kibbutz Yagur
Naomi Schuster

This thesis presents a unique case study of students from Kibbutz Yagur who have participated in the masaot to Poland in recent years. The study is focused on the topic of national Holocaust commemorative narratives and practices and how they have been transmitted to and interpreted by the current generation of kibbutz youth. The study begins with a brief outline of the history of the masa to Poland from the Carmel Zvulun Regional High School located on Kibbutz Yagur. It then continues to explore the possible ways in which kibbutz ideological principles and Zionist values have been transmitted to the current generation of kibbutznikim who choose to participate in the journey. The study shifts to an examination of materials and methods used to facilitate pre-trip learning and discussion. The goal of this section is to discover if any underlying connections can be drawn between those materials and methods to the kibbutz ideology at large. The next section of the thesis is focused on understanding the impact the masa has on the kibbutz students’ sense of identity as individuals, but also as students born and raised on the kibbutz as compared to non-kibbutz participants from the regional high school. The objective is to understand to what extent in-group “gibush” (bonding) that may or may not already be present amongst kibbutz participants who were born and raised in an insulated environment, has impacted their unique experience as “kibbutznikim” on the trip itself. The final chapter examines the patterns of Holocaust commemoration throughout Israel’s history and presents potential causes of friction within the discourse of Shoah memory narratives. It further seeks to understand if and how kibbutz specific interpretations of the Shoah narrative are affecting the current generation of kibbutz youth.

Contextualizing Transformation:
A Case Study of Pilgrimage to Poland
Shelby Weltz
shelby_weltzIn this paper, I will qualitatively investigate the affect of the Poland pilgrimage on a sample of Modern Orthodox American Jewish females, a population less represented in present day Poland pilgrimage scholarship. I begin this paper by exploring the conceptual framework of the Poland voyage as pilgrimage.  I then offer a purview of the history of educational youth trips to Poland as well as provide a glimpse into the educational philosophy of Heritage Seminars, the program under present investigation. Original research in the form of semi-structured, in depth interviews conducted with recent and veteran Heritage Seminars participants is then presented. Thematic analysis was used to address which themes surfaced when recent and veteran participants spoke of their trips to Poland, with particular emphasis placed on how participants felt they were impacted and/or transformed by the journey. By exploring how six participants engaged with, interpreted and synthesized their experiences of Heritage Seminars, I draw conclusions about the impact of the Poland pilgrimage on a sample of Modern Orthodox American Jewish females.

Researching and Restaging the Ghez Collection of Jewish Artists Who Perished in the Holocaust:
A Curatorial Experiment –
Collaboration with the Hecht Museum and a new course!

rachel_perryWe are elated to announce a new course we will be offering to our students in the 2016-2017 academic year.  Through this course we will be partnering with the Hecht Museum, and offering our students a wonderful opportunity to learn about museum studies and curation. Read about the course, taught by Dr. Rachel Perry, below:


hecht-artCourse description:

In 1978, the Swiss art collector, Dr. Oscar Ghez, donated his important collection of works of art by artists who perished in the Holocaust to the University of Haifa.  Consisting of oil paintings, watercolors, drawings and arrested by the Nazis and their French collaborators, many of these artists were interned in the transit camps of Drancy, Gurs, Compiègne before being deported East to death camps.  Ghez conceived of the collection as a memorial to artists who perished in the Holocaust, but it is also an important record of their lives and creativity.

epsteinIn this course, we will collaborate with the Hecht museum on a unique research project revolving around the Ghez collection and culminating in an exhibition which the class will curate and install. The last exhibition catalogue of the Ghez collection is over 20 years old.  The time is ripe for a reassessment of the collection, relying on new scholarship and new methodological approaches.  Little research has been done on these artists; for many, the dates and place of death is unknown.  Like detectives, we will explore the archives and trace the provenance of the art works before Ghez acquired them (ie. where they were purchased, when, by whom).  Where did these artists emigrate from?  What social, religious, political networks and organizations were they affiliated with?  Where did they go to art school, with whom?  Where did they exhibit (galleries, museums) and who were their patrons?  What subjects and media did they gravitate towards?  Answering these questions will contribute to a fuller picture of the rich diversity of Jewish culture in the prewar period, when Paris was a magnet for Jewish artists across Europe.

haberFinal Research Project:  During the semester, students will work independently or in small groups on one aspect of the exhibition.  For their contribution, students are encouraged to think outside of the box.  Whether it is a documentary film detailing our research and progress as a group; a collection of poems and literary texts which relate to the art; a sound track of testimonies; documents relating to each artist (photographs, Pages of Testimony, artifacts); wall labels which provide important contextual information; an educational guide for students or a web based project (blog or website) – this course welcomes interdisciplinary approaches and original ideas about how to curate these works of art in the museum.  No prior knowledge of art is necessary.

dscf0160Museum Visits and Film Screenings: Throughout the semester we will study other museums and collections devoted to art and the Holocaust.  Visiting lecturers and museum visits, as well as films about art and the Holocaust and academic articles and books, will complement class sessions in the Hecht museum and its archives in front of the works of art and relevant historical documents.  Film screenings are scheduled throughout the semester both in class and as homework assignments.  If you cannot make a screening, you must inform me in advance.  Attendance at museum visits is absolutely mandatory.  In addition to the class meetings held in museums, you may be required to visit museums on your own to complete assignments.

Coming Soon: Holocaust Commemoration:
New Trends in Museums and Memorials
Special Issue of “Dapim – Studies on the Holocaust”

The complexity of the Holocaust in its full magnitude, reaches into countless subjects, disciplines, and professions. In order to begin to fully deconstruct, analyze, and understand the Holocaust, interdisciplinary research that transcends all boundaries must occur. The Strochlitz Institute for Holocaust Research at the University of Haifa is proud to announce this upcoming special issue  of Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust, our interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed academic journal.


James Young, Guest Editor and Michal Ahaory and Gavriel Rosenfeld, Editors

Holocaust and Heroism in the Process of Establishing Yad Vashem (1942–1970)
by Doron Bar

Is Eastern European “Double Genocide” Revisionism Reaching Museums?
by Dovid Katz

From the Periphery to the Center of Memory: Holocaust Memorials in Vienna
by Heidemarie Uhl

Transmitting the Survivor’s Voice: Redeveloping the Sydney Jewish Museum
by Avril Alba
Mixed Metaphors in Muranów:  Holocaust Memory and Architectural Meaning at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews
by Gavriel Rosenfeld

Yad Layeled at the Ghetto Fighters’ House: A Museum about Children in the Holocaust or a Museum for Children about the Holocaust?
by  Nadav Heidecker

Genocide and Relevance: Current Trends in United States Holocaust Museums
by Leah Sievers

Subjects of Memory? On Performing Holocaust Memory in Two German Historical Museums
by Irit Dekel

Poetics of Memory: Aesthetics and Experience of Holocaust Remembrance in Museums
by Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich


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!

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

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


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!


 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

“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, “,” 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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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

  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.

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

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.

 “A Comparative Analysis of the Discourse on the

Bystander in the United States and Israel”unnamed

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

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.

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.
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.
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.
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

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.
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.


 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.


Newsletter Fall 2015

IMG_1993 (2)

Every few months we write a newsletter to keep our friends and supporters up to date with all that’s been happening here in Haifa. We are proud to welcome our fourth cohort to Haifa and excited to introduce two of them to you in this newsletter.  We also share information about three of the theses submitted by our alumni, and congratulate two members of our third cohort on being selected for internships at the Magyar Zsido Leveltar – Hungarian Museum and Archives in Budapest.  For all this and more check out our Fall 2015 Newsletter!