Wyman Institute Update: August 24, 2005

I. Welcome to the newest member of the Wyman Institute’s Academic Council:

Dr. Racelle Weiman is the director of the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Appointed in 2000, she is the first director of an international Holocaust center based in a Jewish theological seminary. She administers the development and direction for Holocaust educational outreach and training, teaches courses in collaboration with the Consortium of Colleges and Universities, and develops audio-visual resource materials, exhibitions, and curriculum for Holocaust and tolerance education. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Weiman was a lecturer at the University of Haifa, Israel, where she specialized in courses on Interfaith Relations and Holocaust Studies. She held a research fellowship on Professional Ethics at the S. Neaman Institute at  the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, promoting changes in education and community structures through conflict resolution and prejudice reduction. She has served on the production team of TV documentaries, including Finding Family, which won six major awards, including a National Emmy nomination.

Earlier this year, Dr. Weiman was honored by the Philippines government with the Order of Lakandula, The National Order of Civic and Political Merit, for her work documenting and publicizing the sheltering of German Jewish refugees in the Philippines during the Hitler era.

Dr. Weiman also facilitated the Wyman Institute’s recent videotaped interview with former U.S. Senator George McGovern about his World War II bombing missions near Auschwitz.  The interview was shown at the Wyman Institute’s briefing for the House International Relations Committee Task Force on Antisemitism earlier this year.

II.     The Wyman Institute in the News

1.     On June 26, C-Span’s Book TV program aired a symposium about the New York Times and the Holocaust, which was sponsored by the Wyman Institute (along with the American Jewish Historical Society) and held before a standing room-only audience at the Center for Jewish History, in New York City.  The symposium featured Wyman Institute Academic Council member Prof. Laurel Leff, author of Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important NewspaperNew York Post book review editor Abby Wisse and former New York Times reporter Laurence Zuckerman also spoke.

2.     In July, the Wyman Institute organized a group of twenty-five historians who have researched America’s response to the Holocaust –the top experts in the field– to sign a petition to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Museum, urging correction of a museum exhibit text which claimed there was nothing President Roosevelt could have done to rescue more Jews from the Holocaust.  The petition was the subject of a lengthy article in the New York Sun and other publications.

3.     A July 31 feature story in the New York Times described documents revealing that the Allies received earlier, and more detailed, information about the Nazi genocide than was previously known.  The Times article included a quote from Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff regarding the Allied leaders’ apathetic response to that information.

4.     A public ceremony was held in Ridgewood, New Jersey, on June 26, to rename a street in honor of Varian Fry, the American journalist who rescued more than 2,000 of the world’s most famous artists and writers from Vichy France.  (Ridgewood was Fry’s home town.)  Speakers included William Bingham, son of U.S. diplomat Harry Bingham IV, who worked with Fry in the rescue effort; Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff; and local activist Catherine Taub, whose efforts brought about the street-naming.

5.     The Wyman Institute received widespread media coverage in August for its criticism of statements by entertainer Harry Belafonte claiming that there were Jews in Hitler’s hierarchy.

6.     Rafael Medoff’s obituary of Bergson group lobbyist Maurice Rosenblatt was distributed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on August 17 and appeared in numerous newspapers … His letter to the editor about Rosenblatt was published in the Washington Post on August 20, and he was quoted in the Washington Jewish Week’s August 19 article about Rosenblatt … A letter by Academic Council member Prof. Paul Miller, about the Wyman Institute’s role in the recent controversy over C-Span and Holocaust-denier David Irving, was published in the August issue of Moment magazine.

III.     News About Wyman Institute Committee and Council Members:

In her July 8 “Thinking Aloud” column in the New York Jewish Week, Arts & Letters Council member Francine Klagsbrun reflected on her recent visits to the new Holocaust memorial in Berlin (and other memorials in Prague and Israel).  Today’s young Germans, she noted, “complain that they have heard enough about [the Nazis’] crimes, that they cannot feel eternally guilty for the sins of their fathers.  And they are right … But thought they cannot be blamed, they can be held morally responsible to remember the atrocities perpetrated in this city [Berlin] and spread throughout Europe, to teach their children and children’s children to remember as well.  They can be held responsible to prevent anti-Semitism from ever again eating away at the fabric of their society.”

The Cambridge Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations has launched the Elisabeth Maxwell Research Fund, to promote the study and teaching of the Holocaust, genocide studies, and Jewish-Christian relations.  It is named after Dr. Elisabeth Maxwell, Holocaust scholar and member of the Wyman Institute’s Academic Council.  The new fund was inaugurated earlier this year at a gala event in London, hosted by Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.

Academic Council member Prof. Mary Todd was invited to serve on the Executive Board of the Ohio Council on Holocaust Education, joining another Academic Council member, Prof. Rochelle Millen.

Academic Council member Prof. Harry Reicher (U. of Penn. Law School) was part of the faculty that gave a four-day course in July conducted by the Truman Presidential Library and Museum, in conjunction with the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials … He also spoke on “The Justice Case: Bringing Lawyers to Trial at Nuremberg,”at a conference on July 18  organized by Touro Law School, in Courtroom 600, Nuremberg, Germany, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials.

An essay by Academic Council member Dr. Efraim Zuroff (Simon Wiesenthal Center), “Eastern Europe: Anti-Semitism in the Wake of Holocaust-Related Issues,” was published in the Spring 2005 issue of  Jewish Political Studies Review.  He also authored “Can Nazi War Criminals Be Prosecuted in the 21st Century?” in the Spring 2005 issue of Justice, the journal of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists;  an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post on Croatian-Jewish relations on June 28, the eve of the visit to Israel by Croatian leader Ivo Sanader; and articles  in the July 25 issue of the  Jerusalem Report and the June 7 issue of the Latvian daily Diena about efforts in Latvia to glorify a local aviation hero who collaborated with the Nazis.

Advisory Committee member Prof. David Gelernter (Yale U.), writing in the Los Angeles Times on July 8, took issue with entertainer Woody Allen for implicitly comparing the Holocaust to current American and Israeli government policies.

Articles by Academic Council member Dr. Alex Grobman on Israel and Jewish affairs have appeared recently in the New Jersey Jewish Standard and the Jewish Voice and Opinion; one was translated into Norwegian and appears on the NorskIsraelsenter website.

Academic Council member Prof. Robert Wistrich (Hebrew U.) authored “Cruel Britannia:  Anti-Semitism Among the Ruling Elites,” in the Summer 2005 issue of the Israeli quarterly Azure.

IV. Upcoming Events:

October 2005:

Dr. Irvin Ungar, president of the Arthur Szyk Society and member of the Wyman Institute’s Arts & Letters Council, will lead a Szyk Renaissance Tour to Poland from October 21 to October 28, 2005.  Celebrating the life and work of Arthur Szyk, the famed artist and Bergson Group activist, the tour will visit Lodz, Szyk’s hometown; Krakow, where he studied art;  and Warsaw, home to numerous Jewish landmarks. The participants will take part in the opening reception at the premiere in Poland of “Justice Illuminated: The Art of Arthur Szyk,” and will  meet with high level Polish government officials, U.S. diplomats, and Jewish leaders.  More information:  http://szyk.org/szykrentour/index.html

November 2005:

On November 9-10, the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Wyman Institute will present its “Cartoonists Against the Holocaust: Art in the Service of Humanity” exhibit and program at several prestigious locations in the New York City area.  On Wednesday, November 9, the program will be held at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, in Dover, New Jersey.  Joe Kubert and his son Adam Kubert, of Marvel Comics, will join Dr. Rafael Medoff for a panel discussion as part of the program.

On Thursday, November 10, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, at 594 Broadway (between Houston and Prince), New York City, will host the “Cartoonists Against the Holocaust” exhibit and program.  Groups of middle school and high school students, up to a maximum of 75 at a time, will visit the Museum on that day, by arrangement, for the one hour program.  There will be eight consecutive one-hour programs throughout the day, from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm.  To arrange a visit, please call the Wyman Institute at 202-434-8994.

May 2006:

Cynthia Ozick, chair of the Wyman Institute’s Arts & Letters Council, will speak at the Jewish Community Council of Washington, D.C., on May 9, 2006, at 7:30 pm, about Heir to the Glimmering World, her acclaimed new novel about a family of German Jewish refugees.