Update on Recent Developments

Wyman Institute Update: December 29, 2004


  1. Welcome to the newest member of the Wyman Institute’s Arts and Letters Council: Miriam Chaikin served on the national staff of the Bergson group through all its incarnations, including the Committee for a Jewish Army, the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe, and the American League for a Free Palestine.  After Israel was established, she worked in Washington, D.C. for Senator Guy Gillette (D-Iowa) and then for Senator Herbert Lehman (D-New York).Upon her return to New York, Miriam became editor of books for young readers and began writing herself, publishing some thirty books for young readers, including fiction, nonfiction and Bible retellings. Her book, A Nightmare In History: The Holocaust 1933-1945 (1987) was named one of the best books of the year and is still in print. She has also published a book of poems, No Moon . . . but Fireflies (Linear Arts Press) and, for children, Don’t Step on the Sky: A Handful of Haiku (Holt).  Her website is: MiriamChaikin.com

  2. On the eve of the Holocaust, Yitshaq Ben-Ami and Rabbi Louis I. Newman were leaders of a small group of people who waged a lonely struggle in America in support of the campaign to smuggle Jews from Europe to Palestine.  Now their live-saving efforts will receive public recognition at a special Wyman Institute dinner in New York City.  The dinner will take place on Thursday, January 13, 2005, with a reception at 6:00 pm and dinner at 7:00 pm.  Appropriately, it will be held at Congregation Rodeph Sholom, 7 West 83 Street, New York City, where Rabbi Newman was spiritual leader for more than forty years, and Ben-Ami was an active congregant for more than twenty years. All proceeds from the dinner will go to benefit the Wyman Institute’s educational programs focusing on Americans who sought to promote the rescue of Jews from the Holocaust.  Please join the Ben-Ami and Newman families for this very special evening of tribute to those who had the courage to speak out.  Tickets may be purchased through our web site, www.WymanInstitute.org

  3. Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff and associate director Benyamin Korn coauthored a recent op-ed about Dr. Frank Graham, president of the University of North Carolina in the 1930s and 1940s, who was an outspoken advocate for Holocaust rescue.  (The essay was published in numerous Jewish weekly newspapers.)  They contrasted Graham’s record with that of Harvard University president James Conant, who forged warm relations with senior Nazi officials.  Conant’s actions were revealed by Prof. Stephen Norwood at the recent Wyman Institute conference at Boston University, and continue to attract public attention, including a recent feature story in the Chicago Tribune.

  4. Dr. Phyllis Chesler, a member of the Wyman Institute’s Arts and Letters Council, lectured on antisemitism at a recent UJA event in Greenwich, CT; a National Council of Jewish Women meeting in Teaneck, NJ; and at Temple Sinai, in Middletown, NY.

  5. Wyman Institute Academic Council member Prof. Alan L. Berger (Florida Atlantic University), spoke recently at Florida State University (on “The Mystery of Goodness: Rescuers During the Holocaust” ) and at the University of Wisconsin, Madison,(on “Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ and the Future of Christian/Jewish Dialogue”).  He also co-edited the book Jewish-American and Holocaust Literature: Representation in the Postmodern Age, published by SUNY Press, and spoke on “Arguing with God in the Work of Elie Wiesel” at the American Literature Association conference.

  6. Wyman Institute Academic Council member Dr. Efraim Zuroff authored a review in the Jerusalem Post of Ron Rosenbaum’s “Those Who Forget the Past: The Question of Anti-Semitism.”

  7. Cynthia Ozick, chair of the Wyman Institute’s Arts and Letters Council, was named one of the top fifty most influential Jews in America by the national Jewish weekly The Forward.

  8. Melvin Jules Bukiet, a member of the Wyman Institute’s Arts and Letters Council, was interviewed as part of a joint BBC-PBS documentary called “Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State,” which will be broadcast in the U.S. beginning January 19, 2005.

  9. Wyman Institute Academic Council member Prof. Zev Garber (L.A. Valley College) will serve as the Rosenthal Visiting Professor at Case Western Reserve University in the Spring Semester 2005. He will teach courses on Judaism and on the Holocaust, and will also present a public lecture on January 26, 2005, on “Rethinking the Problem of Edith Stein: Jew and Catholic Saint,” in which he will “explore the controversy surrounding the religious identity of Stein and the Jewish fear of Christianizing the Shoah.”

  10. Wyman Institute Academic Council member Dr.Alex Grobman spoke about Holocaust denial and related subjects at a recent State of Israel Bonds breakfast, at Congregation Adath Yeshurun, in Kew Gardens, NY.

  11. Wyman Institute Academic Council member Prof. Melvin Small (Wayne State U.) served as rapporteur at one of the sessions of the Second Academic Conference on Altruism, which was organized recently by the International Institute of the Righteous, a division of the Michigan Holocaust Memorial Center.

  12. Maurice Sendak, a member of the Wyman Institute’s Arts and Letters Council, has teamed up with the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra to produce “Pincus and the Pig: A Klezmer Tale” (Tzadik Productions), their unique version of “Peter and the Wolf.”  The wolf is replaced by Chozzer the Pig, and the hunters are antisemitic Cossacks.  The CD comes with a booklet illustrated by Sendak, as well as stickers of the characters.