Drs. Bebe and Owen Bernstein Lecture Series

becoming soviet jews

Becoming Soviet Jews: The Bolshevik Experiment in Minsk

Lecturer: Dr. Elissa Bemporad, Queens College
Canceled due to weather. To be rescheduled soon.
at The Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives

Minsk, the present capital of Belarus, was a heavily Jewish city in the decades between the world wars. Recasting our understanding of Soviet Jewish history, Becoming Soviet Jews demonstrates that the often violent social changes enforced by the communist project did not destroy continuities with prerevolutionary forms of Jewish life in Minsk. Using Minsk as a case study of the Sovietization of Jews in the former Pale of Settlement, Dr. Elissa Bemporad reveals the ways in which many Jews acculturated to Soviet society in the 1920s and 1930s while remaining committed to older patterns of Jewish identity, such as Yiddish culture and education, attachment to the traditions of the Jewish workers' Bund, circumcision, and kosher slaughter. This pioneering study also illuminates the reshaping of gender relations on the Jewish street and explores Jewish everyday life and identity during the years of the Great Terror.

DR. ELISSA BEMPORAD is the Jerry and William Ungar Professor of Eastern European Jewish History and the Holocaust and assistant professor of history at Queens College, The City University of New York. She is the author of "Becoming Soviet Jews: The Bolshevik Experiment in Minsk" (Indiana University Press, 2013), winner of the National Jewish Book Award and of the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History. Her new book project, entitled "The Politics of Blood: The Ritual Murder Accusation in the Soviet Union and Poland," explores the ritual murder accusation within the context of the social, economic and gender relations between the Jews and their neighbors in the Soviet Union and Poland in the twentieth century. Dr. Bemporad is also co-editor of Conzeniana, a series in Yiddish culture and literature, published by Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, Rome.

Annual Holocaust Freedom Seder

Annual Holocaust Freedom Seder

Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 1:00 PM
Student Union Building

Join us as we once again honor the Holocaust survivors of our community by recreating the same Passover Seder held in 1946, the first to be held after World War II. Return with us to the DP camp of Munich as the survivors of the Holocaust come together to celebrate the holiday of Freedom, the Season of Deliverance.

Yet how, after the near destruction of the people of Israel, could there be a Seder of Freedom? It fell to Rabbi Abraham Klausner, a chaplain in the US 3rd Army, to solve this problem. In a masterful, heart-stirring way he wrote The Survivors’ Haggadah. It is unlike any Haggadah ever written and trumpets the resiliency of humanity against evil.

Join with us in recreating the historical event as we chant the melodies sung in the camps.

"We were slaves to Hitler in Germany!"

Admission is $12.00 per person which entitles you to a Haggadah, the leadership of a Rabbi Charles Agin and Cantor Susan Agin and a meal catered by A & A Gourmet.

Due to overwhelming response only check reservations will be accepted.

Please mail check and completed reservation form to:

Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives

222-05 56th Avenue, Bayside, New York 11364

Doors will open at 11:45 AM. Seating limited to 250.

No one will be admitted without a ticket.

No tickets will be sold at the door.

For More Information: 718-281-5770

Holding On Through Letters

Holding On Through Letters: Jewish Families During the Holocaust

Lecturer: Dr. Deborah Dwork, Clark University
Sunday, April 26th, 2015 at 1:00 PM
at The Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives

Jewish families in Nazi Europe tried to hold onto each other through letters, but wartime conditions applied. Letters were censored and could not be sent between countries at war. How did families keep in contact with each other? And, if contact was able to be established, what could they say and what to remain silent? In her presentation Dr. Dwork will explain the ingenious ways people bypassed the censors, and she will trace how letters became threads stitching loved ones into each other's constantly changing daily lives.

Dr. Debórah Dwork is the Rose Professor of Holocaust History and founding Director of the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University. Professor Dwork’s books include: Children With A Star, Auschwitz, co-authored with Robert Jan van Pelt, which received the National Jewish Book Award, the Spiro Kostoff Award, and was voted a Best Book by the German Book Critics. Holocaust: A History, again in collaboration with van Pelt, Terezin Album of Mariánka Zadikow, and her co-authored Flight from the Reich: Jewish Refugees, 1933-1946. Dwork’s most recent work, A Boy in Terezín: The Private Diary of Pavel Weiner is an annotated, edited diary written by a Prague boy during his third and last year in the Terezín transit camp, from April 1944 until April 1945.

Dwork has embarked upon two new projects. Saints and Liars is about Americans — Quakers, Unitarians, secular people, Jews — who traveled to Europe to aid and, step by step, engaged in rescuing people targeted by Nazi Germany and its allies. Dear Tante Elisabeth: An Extraordinary, Ordinary Christian during the Holocaust draws upon a cache of over 3,000 letters written by Jewish parents to their children and from the children to their parents. Dwork serves on many advisory boards and works with non-profit organizations and foundations concerned with Holocaust education. Above all, Dr. Dwork is a teacher and mentor to undergraduate and doctoral students who value her commitment to training the next generation of Holocaust scholars.

Refuge Denied

Refuge Denied: The St. Louis Passengers and the Holocaust

Lecturer: Dr. Scott Miller, United States Memorial Holocaust Museum
Sunday, June 7th, 2015 at 1:00 PM
at The Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives

The ordeal of the refugee ship St. Louis has become a symbol of the world’s indifference to the plight of European Jewry on the eve of the Holocaust. In the spring of 1939, more than nine hundred Jewish refugees boarded the St. Louis in Hamburg, Germany, hoping to escape escalating oppression by the Nazi government. Except for a small group that had special visas and was able to disembark in Havana, the ship and its passengers were denied entry by Cuba and the United States. Returning on an uncertain voyage to Europe, the refugees eventually were accepted by four western European countries. Other than the 288 sent to England, most once again fell under the Nazi grip that closed upon continental Europe a year later.

Although the episode of the St. Louis is well known, the actual fates of the passengers, once they disembarked, slipped into historical obscurity. Prompted by a former passenger’s curiosity, Sarah A. Ogilvie and Scott Miller of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum set out to discover what happened to each of the 937 passengers. Their investigation, spanning ten years and half the globe, took them to unexpected places and produced surprising results.

Scott Miller is the Director of Curatorial Affairs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Scott has worked at the Holocaust Museum since 1989. Prior to the opening of the Holocaust Museum to the public in 1993, Scott was a research historian for the museum's Wexner Learning Center —a multimedia information center on the Holocaust. In 1993, Scott became the Academic and University Programs Coordinator for the Museum's Research Institute. In 2001, he was appointed Director of the Benjamin and Vladka Meed Registry of Jewish Holocaust Survivors—the Holocaust Museum's names-information and tracing center.

Scott has also taught Jewish History for the Jewish Studies Program at American University, in Washington, DC. With Randolph Bradham, Scott co-edited The Nazis' Last Victims: The Holocaust in Hungary (1998), and he co-authored with Sarah Ogilvie Refuge Denied: The St. Louis Passengers and the Holocaust (2006). In 2006, Scott assumed his current position of Director of Curatorial Affairs.