Notre Dame will host International Academic Conference on the impact of the Holocaust experience on Jews and Christians

by Dennis Moore

Spring Gathering Will Crown Year-long Tolerance Education Projectp. The University of Notre Dame is engaged in a year-long project that will focus on the impact and lessons of the Holocaust experience for the contemporary world. The centerpiece of the project will be an international, interdisciplinary academic conference, “Humanity at the Limit: The Impact of the Holocaust Experience on Jews and Christians,” to be held April 26-28, 1998, at the University.p. Conference participants will include Michael Berenbaum of the Survivors of the Shoah Foundation/Visual History Project and Rev. Remi Hoeckmann, secretary of the Pontifical commission for religious relations with the Jews and a Vatican liaison with agencies including the World Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, and the International Congress of Christians and Jews.p. The Notre Dame Holocaust Project also includes a visiting scholars in residence series, a film symposium, and an art exhibit and concert. The fruits of the project will include teaching resources for high schools and higher education, as well as video documentaries, transcripts of project proceedings, and other materials designed as information resources for students, scholars and the public.p. The project is cochaired by Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., the University’s president; Notre Dame alumnus and Trustee William F. Reilly, chairman and CEO of PRIMEDIA (formerly K-III Communications Corporation); and Alex Spanos, owner of the San Diego Chargers and Spanos, Inc. The project organizers are Rabbi Michael Signer, Abrams Professor of Jewish Thought and Culture at Notre Dame, and Robert Wegs, professor of history and director of the University’s Nanovic Center for European Studies.p. “Our goal is to shed new light on a horror that continues to have implications for all humankind,” Father Malloy said of the project. “Among our students and members of the local community, we hope to foster new awareness of the Holocaust and its consequences. From a scholarly perspective, we will gather prominent figures from around the world to discuss Jewish-Christian relations, ethics and racism, and artistic representations of the Holocaust.”p. Reilly initiated the project and has contributed generously to it himself while also organizing a who’s who of prominent figures to provide additional support.p. “Mounting a project of this magnitude at Notre Dame makes a powerful statement about the importance of continuing education for people of all backgrounds on both the Holocaust and the overall question of tolerance,” Reilly said. “Hundreds of people throughout the country have told me how important they believe it is that a project such as this be undertaken.”p. “There is general agreement that while we have come far in our understanding, we still must learn more about the lessons of the Holocaust,” Spanos said. “Most importantly, we must understand how those lessons should be applied to contemporary social realities.”p. Other individuals and organizations supporting the project include Notre Dame alumnus Edward M. Abrams, a member of the advisory council for the University’s College of Arts and Letters; Abrams’s wife, Ann Uhry Abrams, a member of the advisory council for Notre Dame’s Snite Museum of Art; John Chalsty of Donaldson, Lufkin&Jenrette; Craig A. Kapson, president of the Jordan Group and a member of the advisory council for the University Libraries of Notre Dame, and his wife, Carol; Sidney Kimmel of Jones New York; Mr. and Mrs. Henry R. Kravis; Preston Robert Tisch of Loews Corporation; Newton N. Minow, a Life Trustee of Notre Dame, and his wife, Jo; and the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Foundation.p. The film symposium, entitled “Screening/Teaching the Holocaust,” will be held on campus March 20-22, 1998. A number of internationally recognized Holocaust films will be shown at the Snite Museum and visiting scholars will discuss film and its use in representing the Holocaust.p. Also as part of the symposium, a workshop for high school teachers, facilitated by the Boston-based organization Facing History and Ourselves, will consider effective ways of using film in teaching about the Holocaust.p. An exhibit of photographer Jeffrey Wolin’s work, “Written in Memory: Portraits of the Holocaust,” will open with a concert April 19 and continue on display at the Snite Museum April 19 – May 10, 1998.p. Scholars lecturing on campus as part of the project are as follows:—Sister Mary C. Boys, Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary and an expert in religious educational formation and anti-Semitism in early Church teachings.

—Nancy Harrowitz, assistant professor of Italian, modern foreign languages and literatures at Boston University, whose scholarly interests include Holocaust survivor and poet Primo Levi.

—Arthur L. Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania and an analyst of complex moral issues surrounding health care, science, and medicine.

—Jonathan Marks, visiting associate professor of anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley, who deals with the issues of genetics and folk heredity and their impact on race.

—Saul Friedlander, professor of political science at the University of California at Los Angeles and author of Holocaust studies including, “When Memory Comes.”

Gerda Weissmann Klein, Holocaust survivor, author of “All But My Life,” and subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary, “One Survivor Remembers,” was the keynote speaker at a community talk cosponsored with the Kurt and Tessye Simon Holocaust Memorial Fund at Temple Beth-El in South Bend.p.

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