Update on Recent Developments

Wyman Institute Update: January 20, 2004

    1. Welcome to the newest member of the Wyman Institute’s Arts & Letters Council:

      Hugh Nissenson is the author of the highly acclaimed novel, The Song of the Earth (Algonquin Books, 2001) which he also illustrated. His previous novel, The Tree of Life (Harper & Row, 1985; Paul Dry Books, 2000) was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pen-Faulkner Award in 1985. His other books include three collections of short stories: A Pile of Stones (Scribners, 1965), In the Reign of Peace (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1972), and The Elephant and My Jewish Problem, which also incorporates excerpts from Nissenson’s journals (Harper & Row, 1989). He is also the author of a memoir of his experience on an Israeli kibbutz, Notes from the Frontier (Dial, 1968) and a novel set on the Lower East Side of New York, entitled My Own Ground (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1976).

      Nissenson was born in New York City and educated at the Fieldston School. He graduated from Swarthmore College in 1955. Three years later he published his first short stories in Harper’s Magazine. Nissenson was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University in 1961-62. He has received numerous awards and grants. His work has been published in Finland, Denmark, Italy, England, and France. In addition, Nissenson has taught writing at Yale University, Manhattanville College, Barnard College, and the Auburn Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Marilyn Claster Nissenson, live in New York. They are the parents of two daughters, Katherine and Kore.

    2. The Wyman Institute received widespread media attention for its protest against the recent statement by radio talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger comparing U.S. day care centers to Nazi Germany. Articles about the controversy appeared in the New York Post, on www.AndrewSullivan.com, and elsewhere, including a lead editorial in the New Jersey Jewish News that praised the Wyman Institute for its position.

      To see the New York Post article, go to:

      To see the New Jersey Jewish News editorial, go to: http://www.njjewishnews.com/njjn.com/edmain.html and click on “Keep the Holocaust Out of It”

    3. Wyman Institute Arts & Letters Council member Janis Ian is hosting a series of auctions to benefit the Pearl Foundation, including first drafts of song lyrics, rare or previously unreleased recordings, and similar items, some of them related to her Grammy-nominated album “Breaking the Silence,” which includes her powerful song about the Holocaust, “Tattoo” (see www.janisian.com). Janis begins a year-long tour on February 24, 2004, with concerts throughout the United States as well as in Great Britain, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, France, Japan, and Australia. An unusual new feature on her web site is following her stage-by-stage as she produces her next CD, from original guitar & vocal tapes of the earliest versions of the songs, right up through the final versions, all of which can be downloaded.

    4. The textbook ‘Jewish Americans and Political Participation’, by Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff, was named an “Outstanding Academic Title of 2003” by the American Library Association’s Choice Magazine. The designation is reserved for a select group of books that are “distinguished for their excellence in scholarship, relevance, and originality.” The book was published by ABC-CLIO, with a foreword by former mayor Ed Koch.

    5. A campaign by Wyman Institute Academic Council member Dr. Efraim Zuroff, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, has helped bring about Estonia’s first-ever criminal investigation of a suspected Nazi war criminal, Michael Gorshkow.Dr. Zuroff’s efforts to persuade Finland to investigate the deportation of non-Finnish civilians and Soviet POWs to Nazi Germany during World War II last year resulted in the Finnish government’s appointment of Prof. Heikki Ylikangas to study the matter. On January 15, Prof. Ylikangas issued a formal recommendation that the government appoint a special commission to investigate the deportations.

    6. Wyman Institute Academic Council member Alan L. Berger, Raddock Eminent Scholar Chair of Holocaust Studies at Florida Atlantic University, delivered a paper titled “Elie Wiesel’s Mythopoesis of the Holocaust: Reading ‘Night’ Against Wiesel’s Autobiography and Later Interviews,” at the Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities, Honolulu, January 8, 2004. Berger also chaired a session entitled “Religion” at the conference.

    7. Wyman Institute Academic Council member Gershon Greenberg (American University) authored “Amalek in Holocaust-Era Orthodox Jewish Thought” in ‘Bioethical and Ethical Issues Surrounding the Trials and Code of Nuremberg’, edited by Jacques J. Rozenberg (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen, 2003).

    8. Wyman Institute Academic Council members Penina Glazer (Hampshire College) and Myron Glazer (Smith College) are completing their next book, ‘Jews of Paradise: Creating a Vibrant Community in Northampton, Massachusetts’, which will be published this spring as part of a series by Historic Northampton for the 350th anniversary of Northampton. One chapter, “Confronting the Holocaust,” describes efforts by the Northampton community, led by Smith College president William Allen Neilson and former First Lady Grace Coolidge, to bring German Jewish refugees to the United States. (To order the book, call 413-584-3669.)