Wyman Institute News & Events – December

WYMAN INSTITUTE NEWS & EVENTS – November/December 2008


Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff will deliver the keynote address, on “Peter Bergson’s Race Against Death,” at the Aish HaTorah Annual Partners Conference, on Thursday evening, December 4, at 7:30 pm, at the Hilton Hotel in Stamford, CT. For more information, visit http://www.partnersconference.com/

December 8, 2008: The new series “Newsmakers and Trendsetters with Thane Rosenbaum,” moderated by law professor, novelist, and Wyman Institute Arts & Letters Council member Thane Rosenbaum, will debut at the 92nd Street Y, with “Jewish Survival on College Campuses and in the Ivory Tower, on Monday, December 8, at 8:15 pm. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Wayne Firestone will be the panelists. For ticket information, call 212-415-5500 or visit: this link at 92y.org

December 21, 2008: The Wyman Institute will host a session on “New Research on American Responses to Nazism in the 1930s,” at the annual meeting of the Association for Jewish Studies, in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, December 21, from 9:30 am to 11:00 am. Featured speakers will be Dr. Rafael Medoff, on “American Jewry and Illegal Immigration to Palestine, 1938-1940”; Prof. June Benowitz on “Antisemitism in the America First Movement”; and Wyman Institute Academic Council member Prof. Laurel Leff on “American Elites and the German Jewish Refugee Crisis.” Wyman Institute Academic Council member Dr. Racelle Weiman, director of the Institute for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue at Temple University, will moderate. For admission information, call the AJS at 917-606-8249.

January 26, 2009: “The Jewish Love Affair with Food,” featuring Mort Zachter, Patricia Volk, and Rich Cohen with moderator Thane Rosenbaum, part of the series “Newsmakers and Trendsetters with Thane Rosenbaum,” will be held at the 92nd Street Y on Monday, January 26, 2009, at 8:15 pm. See above for ticket information.

January 28, 2009: “An Evening with Sidney Lumet,” featuring the Academy Award winning film director with moderator Thane Rosenbaum, part of the series “Newsmakers and Trendsetters with Thane Rosenbaum,” will be held at the 92nd Street Y on Wednesday, January 28, 2009, at 8:15 pm. See above for ticket information.



1. Essays by Arts & Letters Council member Thane Rosenbaum were published recently in the Los Angeles Times (“Mind Games and Memories,” Oct. 5), the Wall Street Journal (“Victory is an Orphan in Iraq,” Sept. 18,) The Forward (“Mazel Tov, Mr. President-Elect! Now Do We Have Some Advice For You…,” Nov. 6) and the New York Jewish Week (“He Beat Us To It: Blacks, Jews and the House on Pennsylvania Avenue,” Nov. 4).

2. Denying History: Who Says The Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It?, coauthored by Wyman Institute Academic Council Member Dr. Alex Grobman, published by the University of California Press, will appear shortly in a Polish-language edition. It has already appeared in English, Italian and Greek.

3. The Jerusalem Post recently published essays by Dr. Rafael Medoff concerning the FDR biographies that Barack Obama has been reading (Nov. 26); David Ben-Gurion’s response to Kristallnacht (Nov. 9), and Syria’s sheltering of Nazi war criminals (Oct. 30) . Germany’s leading newspaper, Suddeutsche Zeitung, recently printed his essay on the Jewish vote in American politics. Medoff was also recently interviewed on CNN’s “Situation Room” program (hosted by Wolf Blitzer) with regard to the hunt for Nazi war criminals in South America.

4. Paragon House has just published Jewish Christian Relations: Drawing Hone from the Rock, co-authored by Academic Council member Alan L. Berger, the Raddock Family Eminent Scholar Chair of Holocaust Studies at Florida Atlantic University.



1. The Wyman Institute presented its acclaimed “Cartoonists Against the Holocaust” program and exhibit at Somers High School and Ossining High School, in Westchester County, NY, in November. More than three hundred seniors and juniors took part in the programs.

2. Wyman Institute Board of Directors member Sigmund Rolat recently organized a special reception for Poland’s First Lady, Madame Maria Kaczynska, at the Park East Synagogue in New York City. The event was cosponsored by the North American Council for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which Rolat chairs. The First lady learned first hand about the work of the Council and the ongoing development of the museum, which is located in Warsaw.

At the reception, Poland’s Foreign Minister and Secretary of State posthumously awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic –Poland’s highest honor– to the daughter of Mrs. Irena Gut, who saved twelve Jews by sheltering and hiding them during the Holocaust. Among those in the standing-room-only audience was Roman Haller, director of the Claims Conference Successor Organization in Munich, who was born in Mrs. Gut’s hiding place after she convinced his mother not to end her pregnancy.

3 The web site of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America is currently featuring an essay based on the Wyman Institute’s research on three JTS student activists who tried to raise American public awareness of the Holocaust in 1943:


4. Arts & Letters Council member Prof. Thane Rosenbaum testified earlier this year before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Democracy and Human Rights, in support of H.R. 1746, the Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act. He call d the legislation “an opportunity to grant Holocaust survivors the return of their rights and the restoration of their dignity, both of which have been withheld from them … for far too long. And in empowering Holocaust survivors and exposing European insurers to the imperatives of truth, this Committee will also serve as a moral voice that the United States offers no protection to those who profit from the suffering of others and who take advantage of the spoils of
man’s darkest hour.”

For the full text of his testimony, see this link.

5. Wyman Institute Arts & Letters Council member, neurosurgeon, and painter Dr. Nathan Moskowitz is one of the contributors to “Home Plates,” a series of works of art created on dinner plates, which are being auctioned by the Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery of the Washington, D.C. JCC. Bidding ends on December 13, 2008. To view and bid on the plates, please visit the JCC auction website
(Dr. Moskowitz’s plate appears under the name Nahum Halevi.)

Dr. Moskowitz was recently interviewed on the Shalom USA radio station, in Baltimore, about his paintings that are now on exhibit at the American Visionary art museum and his lifetime project of painting the entire Hebrew Bible.

6. Manhattan’s Forum Gallery recently featured “Jewish Magic,” an exhibit of thirty new works by artist (and Wyman Institute Arts & Letters Council member) Mark Podwal. Podwal’s film, “House of Life: The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague,” also ran during the course of the exhibit. It will be broadcast by PBS nationally in April 2009, in conjunction with the commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

To view “Jewish Magic” online, please visit:

7. The German Historical Museum is currently featuring (through January 4) “Arthur Szyk: Bilder Gegen Nationalsozialismus und Terror” (Arthur Szyk: Drawing Against National Socialism and Terror), an exhibit of artwork by the late artist and Bergson Group activist Arthur Szyk. It was curated by Irvin Ungar, president of Historicana and the Arthur Szyk Society, and member of the Wyman Institute’s Arts & Letters Council. The exhibit can also be viewed online (in English as well as German) at www.dhm.de. Dr. Ungar spoke at the opening, and authored an historical essay, “Arthur Szyk: Soldier in Art,” for the catalogue, in both German and English–the first time the German Historical Museum has published a catalogue in English. The exhibit was featured in a recent front page article in the New York Times.

Earlier this year, Historicana published a new edition of the famous Szyk Passover Haggadah, as well as the companion volume, “Freedom Illuminated: Understanding The Szyk Haggadah,” co-edited by Ungar and Rabbi Byron Sherwin. His essay in the companion volume, “Telling The Story: A History of The Szyk Haggadah,” for the first time prints Szyk’s controversial images of Egyptian taskmasters with swastikas, which were censored out of the original pre-World War II edition.

8. Wyman Institute Academic Council member Prof. Laurel Leff is featured in a new podcast, concerning American media coverage of the Holocaust, which appears on the web site of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:


9. Wyman Institute Advisory Committee member Dr. Ruth Gruber was featured in a recent Ha’aretz article by Tom Segev, about her role in reporting on the immigration of Jews from Yemen to the new state of Israel in 1949. Her report to the Israeli government on the harsh conditions in the tent cities where the immigrants were lodged galvanized the government of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to improve their situation. For the text of the Ha’aretz article, see:


The article also discussed Gruber’s coverage of the voyage of the Exodus and her connection to the famous Leon Uris novel about that episode. The film version of “Exodus” was recently screened at the Jerusalem Film Festival, with Gruber taking part in a panel discussion about it, at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

10. Academic Council member Dr. Bat-Ami Zucker (Bar Ilan University) spoke recently at Temple Emanu-El, in New York City, about her new book, “Cecilia Razovsky and the American Jewish Women’s Rescue Operations in the Second World War.” The event was sponsored by the organization “One Thousand Children & Hidden Children.”

11. Academic Council Member Zev Garber (Los Angeles Valley College) contributed and edited Casden Annual 6 on the impact of the Shoah in America and in American Jewish life, forthcoming in December from Purdue University Press. His Casden article, “A Citadel Fitly Constructed: Philo-Semitism and the Making of an American Holocaust Conference,” assesses critically but favorably the challenges, limitations, and successes of the Annual Scholars’ Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches (ongoing since 1970). Also, his recent articles in post-Shoah theology, “Post-Shoah Dialogue: Confronting Moses and Paul in Auschwitz” and “It is Not in Heaven: Interpreting Romans 3 and 10 in Light of Deuteronomy 30,” appeared in the New Zealand journal Mentalities/Mentalities 21.2 (2007-08). Finally, in November he gave the Levine Endowed Lecture at Southern Methodist University on “Faith after Auschwitz: Jewish and Christian Responses to the Holocaust”; spoke on the Martin Niemoeller legacy before the interfaith HaShomer group in Ft. Worth; and organized and presented at the annual meeting of the National Association of Professors of Hebrew meeting in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Boston.

12. Academic Council member Alan L. Berger (Florida Atlantic University) spoke on “Make My Prayers into Tales: Elie Wiesel’s Post Auschwitz Shema Israel,” at the Conference in honor of Professor Wiesel’s 80th Birthday, at Boston University, in October.



The Wyman Institute offers its deepest condolences to the family of Arts & Letters Council member Ted Solotaroff, who recently passed away. Essayist, literary critic, assistant editor of Commentary and books editor of the New York Herald Tribune, Solotaroff in 1967 founded the New American Review, one of the most influential literary journals of its era. In 1977, he became senior editor at Harper & Row, a position he held until his retirement. “Truth Comes in Blows,” the first volume of his projected three-volume autobiography, won a PEN award, and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture honored Ted for his contributions to Jewish writing. May his memory be for a blessing.