New Spring Semester Course: The History of Anti-Semitism

The Weiss-Livnat MA Program is excited to announce a new course for the upcoming Spring semester – History of Anti-Semitism. This poignant course will be instructed by Dr. Shmulik Lederman, our resident expert on genocide studies and one of the academic advisors. We asked Dr. Lederman to give us an overview of the course and detail what students can expect to learn. Read what he had to say, below.

 

Weiss-Livnat Haifa: What is the importance of the program offering this course? Are students not always aware of the historical significance that religious-based anti-Semitism played in the development of the Holocaust? Is there a gap in knowledge between religious-based anti-Semitism and modern (political, race, eugenic-based) anti-Semitism?

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Dr. Shmulik Lederman

Dr. Lederman: Your question actually contains the answer: What is the relationship between the old, religious-based Jew-hatred and modern anti-Semitism? And what is the relationship between modern anti-Semitism and the “eliminationist” anti-Semitism of the Nazis? At first sight, it seems obvious that there is a strong, direct connection between these phenomena. But in fact, these remain open questions for historians of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. To put it as succinctly as I can, it is hard to believe that the Jews could play such a role in modern anti-Semitism and particularly in the Nazi worldview without the long tradition of Jew-hatred in Europe. At the same time, however, only the Nazis tried to exterminate the entire Jewish people, and they distanced themselves—particularly Hitler—from traditional religious hatred of the Jews. As your question hints, the ideological basis of modern anti-Semitism was significantly different from the traditional one, and one of the questions is whether we should take this difference as a thin cover (or changing superficial justifications) for the essential, continuing, irrational hatred of the Jews throughout European history, or should this fact make us distinguish very sharply between modern anti-Semitism and traditional Jew-hatred or Judo-phobia. These are the kinds of questions we will ask in the course, and I think they are crucial for any understanding of the history of the Holocaust.

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New Course! Entrepreneurship in Holocaust Commemoration and Education

The Weiss-Livnat International MA in Holocaust Studies is excited to announce a new and original course starting in Fall 2018; Entrepreneurship in Holocaust Commemoration and Education.

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As the world approaches a time without Holocaust survivors and when cultural, social and technological changes take place at a rapid pace, it has become imperative to consider inventive approaches to commemorate the Holocaust.

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Danny and Rivka of Cohort VI – Reflections on the past year and focus on the future

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

Danny Melkonovitzky is from Holon, Israel. He received his BA in Media and Communications Studies from The College of Management Academic Studies, Israel

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Danny Melkonovitzky

What was your favorite course in the Weiss-Livnat Program?

“My favorite course was Visual Culture and the Holocaust: Art and Visual Culture in Response to Fascism with Dr. Rachel Perry. My background is in media and communications studies, and analyzing visual cultural products – especially film – is my bread and butter. I felt like the course was tailored exactly to my interests.”

As an Israeli, what was the experience of studying with an international group like?

“At first I was asking myself, ‘why do so many foreign students have an interest in Holocaust studies?’ After a while, I found that it is very cool to study in a non-Israeli environment – engaging in discourse with a strong diversity of views and ideas, which are not always present within the Israeli discourse. It made the subject matter even more interesting.”

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

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

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

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Margarita Pedchenko

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

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

A favorite experience you had in Israel?

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

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

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

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

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Elizabeth Schram

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

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

Tell us one of your best Israel experiences. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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Dr. Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs at the University of Haifa

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

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

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

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