“Approaching the entrance gates and visitor’s center of Yad Vashem from the ascending road down Mt.Herzl, with its vast vegetation and spectacular views over the Jerusalem hills has become a weekly occurrence for me. I am fortunate to be interning here one day a week at the Visual Center of Yad Vashem as part of my studies in the Weiss-Livnat MA program. Our Cohort’s recent, intensive 4-day Seminar at Yad Vashem has, however, been a very different and new experience for me, one that opened up many more facets of both the institution specifically and Holocaust research, generally.
Still a little tired from the long bus ride from Haifa, which included the obligatory traffic jam on Road One, our group was warmly welcomed by the Head of the Academic Affairs Section of the International Institute of Holocaust Research, Eliot Nidam-Orvieto, who throughout our stay remained our dedicated contact person. From the very beginning and over the entire course of the seminar, he and the other staff and affiliates of the Institute fostered an open exchange between themselves and us students, treating us as recognized and respected young colleagues. After every lecture, students who were particularly interested in the specific field or methodological approach were able to discuss the topics in more detail and ask the lecturers’ questions one-on-one. Eliot Nidam also helped find available resources at Yad Vashem that could assist us with our current projects, and even provided networking contacts of experts and prominent scholars from our fields of interests.
Last year, in Honor of Yom Hazikaron leShoah ve-leG’vurah (Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day) most commonly referred to as Yom HaShoah, our International MA students in Holocaust Studies compiled a list of the Holocaust books they found most thought-provoking, impactful, and moving.
We are continuing with the tradition and sharing the books our cohort recommends. A few of the classics you’ll find reappearing again on this year’s list but they’ve also added some insightful new finds – including two books suitable for younger audiences. From the philosophical to the purely historical, here are ten recommended, non-fiction and fiction books to read today.
1. Into That Darkness, Gitta Sereny 1974
Based on 70 hours of interviews with Franz Stangl, commandant of Treblinka (the largest of the five Nazi extermination camps), ‘Into That Darkness’ bares the soul of a man who continually found ways to rationalize his role in Hitler’s final solution.
“The first time I visited Yad Vashem, I arrived at the museum on a bus with the two dozen other members of my summer program. We wore our backpacks and drank from our water bottles as we crossed the open plazas under the blazing sun. Plunging into the cool concrete space of the main exhibit of the museum, we followed the story of the destruction of European Jewry as it unfolded, led by a knowledgeable guide who showed us the way through the dense galleries and difficult history.
Even before we stepped off the bus in the driveway near Yad Vashem’s entrance, I knew this visit would be different. I would be visiting the museum not as a visitor but as a student and researcher and as a part of a cohort of scholars, educators, curators, and tour guides who are visiting Yad Vashem not as an essential stop in a tour of Israel, but as a place for critical engagement.
In the Weiss-Livnat International Program in Holocaust Studies, we are training to become the people who will contribute to the exhibitions and education that happens in Holocaust centers throughout the world. To do so, we are learning to ask questions, apply concepts, and create our own arguments when we encounter places like Yad Vashem. In this brief seminar of four days’ length, we engaged with the museum and research institute as scholars entering the field, benefitting from the tremendous knowledge and generosity of the staff. Continue reading →
The Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies is proud to announce that three of our students were recently awarded scholarships from Yad Vashem’s International Research Institute! Students Jovana Cvetićanin from Serbia, Meredith Scott from the US, and Lani Berman from US/Israel received the scholarship to help finance their research for their MA theses. Congratulations!
This past week, our students visited the Beit Theresienstadt Museum on Kibbutz Givat Haim for a study tour and seminar. This unique museum’s story began on May 8, 1955, when a group of 150 survivors of the Theresienstadt Ghetto gathered on the Kibbutz with the intention of creating a commemoration space for the victims who passed through or died in Theresienstadt. In 1975, it became a non-profit organization in memory of the Jewish Martyrs of Ghetto Theresienstadt and in 2011, was renovated, expanded, and established as an official museum.
Students listen to a lecture by Beit Theresienstadt Director, Tami Kinberg
“What is it like to be a student in the Weiss-Livnat MA Program in Holocaust Studies?” is a question we receive a lot. Naturally, many of you are curious about our unique program, the students who participate in it, and the experiences they have living in Israel while attending the University of Haifa. With that in mind, we have begun a new tradition. Each year, a select student will take you on a journey through their one-year adventure in Haifa. The inaugural series of A Year in the Life highlights our student, Missy, who comes to us from Calgary, Canada. This is Missy’s second post, her first can be read here.
“In addition to our academic, classroom studies, the Weiss-Livnat Program in Holocaust Studies gives students the opportunity to attend several seminars and sites that deal with Holocaust Memory. In December, my cohort spent 3-days at the Ghetto Fighters House Museum. My fellow colleague in the program, Lottie, shared her thoughts of the seminar and you can read her experience here.”
“What is it like to be a student in the Weiss-Livnat MA Program in Holocaust Studies?” is a question we receive a lot. Naturally, many of you are curious about our unique program, the students who participate in it, and the experiences they have living in Israel while attending the University of Haifa. With that in mind, we have begun a new tradition. Each year, a select student will take you on a journey through their one-year adventure in Haifa.
The inaugural series of A Year in the Life will highlight our student, Missy, who comes to us from Calgary, Canada. Missy received her BA degrees from Mount Royal University in Calgary, one in History and one in Psychology. She was selected to intern for the United Nations and worked at the UN Headquarters in New York and in Seoul, South Korea. She also worked for the Provincial Government of Quebec in the Ministry of Women, Communication & Culture. Missy is a former beauty pageant contestant. She was chosen to compete in Miss. Universe Canada and placed as a Top 20 Semi-Finalist.
“I am always amazed when I look back at my life and reflect on all of the stars that had to align for me to be where I am today. Despite my move to a new country filled with its fair share of challenges and turbulence, I am grateful that the stars led me to the Weiss-Livnat Holocaust Studies Program.
When I arrived in September, I had the remarkable opportunity to live with an Israeli family for two weeks, before moving into the University Residence. It was during Sukkot, and being in Israel during this meaningful holiday was such a wonderful experience. This holiday commemorates the years that Jews spent in the desert on their way to the Promised Land, and celebrates how God protected them under extremely tough conditions. The family that I stayed with has continued to be in touch with me, and I appreciate the kindness they have bestowed upon me.Continue reading →