Descendants of the Shoah conference is not just for descendants of the Shoah

From the Jewish Ledger

By Stacey Dresner

WEST HARTFORD – As a descendant of Holocaust survivors, Sharone Kornman says she used to think her parents’ experience didn’t affect her when she was growing up in Teaneck, New Jersey.

“I had a happy childhood,” she says. “If you had asked me when I was 25 I would have told you it didn’t have any impact on me at all. But my college essay was about being a child of survivors – so even then, when I was 17, it was something that I thought about. It wasn’t a central part of my life, but it was something I wrote about. It wasn’t something that I felt defined me, but I guess it did.”

Kornman and her mother have attended Holocaust survivor conferences in Boston, Warsaw, and Texas. Each time, she has bonded with other second-generation survivors who have attended with their parents.

“There is an instant connection, and a whole bunch of things we don’t even have to say to each other because we already understand,” she says.

That connection between members of the second generation of Holocaust survivors is just one of the goals of the upcoming Descendants of the Shoah: New England Holocaust Conference, which will be held on Sunday, Nov. 11, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., at the University of Hartford. The conference is sponsored by Voices of Hope, an organization founded by descendants of Holocaust survivors from across Connecticut to raise awareness about the Holocaust and to fight hate and intolerance.

“One of the things that Voices of Hope has been striving to do is have some bonding sessions with our descendants…They have a bond that none of us can relate to and it is very important for them to be able to discuss similar issues that they are experiencing,” says Kathy Fishman, director of operations and programming for Voices of Hope. “We have been bringing survivors into schools for the past eight years to tell their stories, but there will be a time when survivors are no longer around and we will need the second generation to be a voice.”

Kornman, a Voices of Hope board member, along with conference co-chairs Estelle Kafer and Eliane Sandler, who are also descendants of Holocaust survivors, have labored to create a conference that raises “consciousness about Holocaust history, personal experiences and the continuity of remembrance.”

The daylong conference will offer a variety of sessions led by authors, educators, and descendants of Holocaust survivors, structured into four one-hour sessions – two in the morning and two in the afternoon.

Sessions include a Second Generation Authors Panel with Caroline Heller and Hanna Marcus; “Who We Are and Why We Came,” “Life Before and After the Shoah,” with Prof. Avinoam Patt of the Greenberg Center and two films. More general topics include “A Bissel Yiddish,” and a workshop on how to research and document one’s family history.

During a kosher lunch, keynote speaker Professor Omer Bartov of Brown University will speak on “The Life and Death of My Mother’s Hometown: Anatomy of the Holocaust.”

Event co-chair Estelle Kafer agreed that the conference will give the descendants of survivors a chance to meet and network.

Kafer’s father, whose entire family was murdered in his native Lithuania, survived the war by using the trade his father had insisted he pursue – he was a tailor who worked under the Nazis and then later the Russians. Kafer didn’t know the extent of his experiences until college when she asked him to share his story with her.

“The gates opened and he started talking, and didn’t stop until he died five or six years ago at 95,” she recalls.

Last year Kafer, who is the director of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford, participated in Speak Up, a program that helps the second generation learn how to speak about their parents’ experiences through their own stories. “Doing that was so important to me…It made me realize how his being a survivor made such an impact on my young adult life.

“It is very important to me to be involved in raising awareness for the next generation and my children, who are third generation, about the Holocaust and survivor stories.”

Co-chair Eliane Sandler hopes the conference shines a light on “modern genocide and immigration in America.”

Sandler has her own immigration story. Born in France in 1947 to two survivors, Gisela and the late Severyn Adamski, Sandler arrived in the U.S. in 1956 at the age of nine. Her family settled in Queens, New York.

“I grew up right after the war in Europe and then we moved to Israel, so I have a kind of immigrant perspective and a second-generation perspective. My parents and I learned English together. We became very assimilated, wanting to be Americans,” Sandler explained. “It was hard to get here, but once we arrived here I felt it was a welcoming place.”

She worries about immigrants arriving in America today.

“I want the conference to bring an awareness of who we are as a people today and build awareness about the causes of other people,” she says. “My mother who is 90 and totally arthritic, goes to schools and talks about [her experience] because she feels it makes a difference for the future. It is not about our story; it is about prevention of future genocides, especially in today’s environment.”

Sandler’s daughter, Shiri, will be the closing speaker at the conference. Shiri is managing director of the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda, which deals with the descendants of the Rwandan genocide. She is former national director of the Auschwitz Jewish Center of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. “She is going to bring the third generation into the conversation and give us some information on genocide,” Eliane said.

The co-chairs believe the conference has relevance to all people, and not only to descendants of the Holocaust, which is why it is open to the general public as well.

“As children of survivors,” Kornman said, “it is our responsibility to make sure that what happened isn’t forgotten and to tell it in a very personal way.”

Descendants of the Shoah Conference, at the University of Hartford, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. For information: (860) 470-5591, ctvoicesofhope.org.

CAP: Co-chairs of the Descendants of the Shoah Conference are from left to right, Estelle Kafer, Eliane Sandler and Sharone Kornman.


Facebook and Holocaust Denial

Click here to engage with the FB community: https://www.facebook.com/ClaimsConference/videos/1961734767181909/

https://www.timesofisrael.com/facebooks-zuckerberg-says-he-wont-remove-holocaust-denial-posts/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2018/07/30/facebook/?utm_term=.63703abaa8ae

https://www.vox.com/explainers/2018/7/20/17590694/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-holocaust-denial-recode

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/18/zuckerberg-facebook-holocaust-deniers-censorship

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/19/mark-zuckerberg-holocaust-denial-facebook-remarks-offensive

Here’s what Facebook employees were saying about Holocaust denial … in 2009

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-facebook-germany-holocaust/facebook-must-adhere-to-german-holocaust-denial-laws-says-berlin-idUSKBN1K91XF

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/07/the-solution-to-holocaust-deniers-on-facebook/565562/

http://fortune.com/2018/07/24/facebook-mark-zuckerberg-holocaust-denial-free-speech/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/nation-now/2018/07/19/facebook-mark-zuckerberg-clarifies-comments-holocaust-deniers/799438002/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/zuckerberg-facebook-holocaust-denial_us_5b4f70f5e4b0de86f48901ea

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/18/opinions/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-holocaust-denial-lipstadt-opinion/index.html

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/zuckerberg-facebook-wont-ban-holocaust-deniers/

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-zuckerberg-holocaust-deniers-20180719-story.html

https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/facebook-is-feeding-the-holocaust-deniers-it-should-shut-them-down-1.6294410

https://www.dw.com/en/facebook-refuses-to-censor-holocaust-denial-as-social-media-sites-struggle-with-german-laws/a-44855519

https://www.forbes.com/sites/howardhomonoff/2018/07/23/time-for-facebook-to-accept-responsibility-for-truly-safe-environment/#c4c4b783e517

https://www.businessinsider.com/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-holocaust-deniers-reaction-2018-7

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-19/zuckerberg-walks-back-defense-of-holocaust-deniers-on-facebook

Zuckerberg Clarifies Stance On Facebook Policy For Holocaust Deniers

https://www.news.com.au/technology/online/social/holocaust-denial-facebook-ceo-zuckerberg-says-unintentional-offensive-behaviour-is-acceptable/news-story/c30856635f1c44e5fb9c9e035e7265fa

https://www.thedailybeast.com/facebook-puts-holocaust-denial-groups-in-top-search-results

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/18/facebook-infowars-holocaust-deniers-zuckerberg-730772


Letter to Government of Poland

The Board of Directors of the Association of Holocaust Organizations today called upon the government of Poland to revoke its controversial law regarding Holocaust research and stated that amending the law to remove criminal prosecution while leaving open the possibility of civil procedures is not sufficient.

The law continues to place the burden of proof on Holocaust survivors, scholars and educators. This is not an acceptable solution and any attempt to inhibit historical research or threaten open expression on the Holocaust in Poland must be rejected.  Therefore the Board shares the concerns raised by institutions such as Yad Vashem, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, as well as experts such as Prof  Yehuda Bauer who have all pointed out that historical facts cannot be legislated. The AHO Board also urges Poland’s government to take immediate steps to counter the antisemitism that has erupted in the wake of the controversy surrounding the law.

The Association of Holocaust Organizations is an international network of over 370 organizations and individuals working for the advancement of Holocaust education, remembrance and research.


Call to document Genocide as over 120 victims get decent burial in Ruhango

Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

Rwandans should comprehensively write about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi to ensure that the youth and the next future generations as well as the rest of the world get to understand what happened in the country 24 years ago.

The call was made on Sunday during a Genocide commemoration event at Kinazi memorial site in Ruhango District.

The site is home to over 60,000 remains of Genocide victims, most of who were exhumed from a mass grave codenamed ‘CND’. During the same event, 124 bodies were exhumed from nearby locations and given a decent burial at the memorial site.

CND was the name of the present-day Parliamentary Building in Kimihurura, Kigali which in 1994 hosted a 600-strong contingent of the then Rwanda Patriotic Army rebels who had been deployed in the capital to protect Rwanda Patriotic Front politicians who were supposed to join an inclusive transitional government under the Arusha peace talks.

The talks collapsed when the Genocide broke out in April 1994.

Mourners in Ruhango reflected on the gruesome massacres in the area as Interahamwe militiamen and Burundian refugees in Rwanda at the time killed and roasted body parts of Tutsi victims before dumping them in a mass grave.

At first, the Tutsis here tried to defend themselves against the militia who surrounded them at the then Ntongwe Commune, but they were eventually overcome and slaughtered.

Speaking at the event, the Minister for Local Government and Social Affairs, Francis Kaboneka, said that information on the Genocide should be at the disposal of the current and future generations.

“We need to document the history of how the Genocide was prepared and executed, not only in this place but across the country. And this history should not start from 1994 but years before,” said Kaboneka.

The minister urged survivors not to be kept captive by what they went through but soldier on with resilience.

“We all need to support survivors to overcome their grief,” he said.

Kaboneka said it was a pity that, 24 years later, Genocide survivors are still struggling to find and accord decent burial to their loved ones because some perpetrators have declined to reveal the whereabouts of the remains of their victims.

Mukanyandwi’s testimony

Odette Mukanyandwi, a mother of three from Gasabo District, was 14 years old when the Genocide took place.

“Since 1990 the signs were there, in my class they once asked us to stand up according to our ethnic groups and the teachers would mock Tutsi students. Long before the Genocide started we could see people fleeing and houses being set on fire,” she said.

“Before the Genocide started, militiamen often attacked us and we would spend nights in the bush and go to school the next morning. Several public meetings were also held where people were openly incited to kill the Tutsi,” she added.

“In 1994, we heard that the plane carrying Habyarimana had crashed and heavy gunfire ensued shortly after. We scampered for our dear lives looking for a place to hide; I ended up at Ntongwe Commune (head office) where thousands had gathered.

“I found so many people there, my mother and other relatives were also there with me, and my mother had lost her voice. We were hungry and thirsty and people were dying from their wounds,” she recalled.

“The militia attacked us and started reading out names, they surrounded the compound and others jumped inside, they started hacking us with machetes, I saw them kill my young brother, my mother and so many others,” she narrated.

“They hit me everywhere, including on the head, I fell unconscious while someone shoved an object inside my ear, they then threw me outside thinking I was dead.

“Hundreds of bodies lay all over the place and I heard militia leaders asking the Interahamwe to first clean the area because the smell was becoming unbearable before they could kill other people.

“They started taking bodies to the mass grave, one young girl came and told me that we needed to leave the area because the militia was planning to bury those who were in critical condition alive, we left but we soon met a group of men who stopped us and told us that they were going to turn us into their wives, but as they still argued about who would take who somehow we managed to slip away and escaped.

“As we headed back to our home area, we found that it was business as usual for some of the people we know, they were not being hunted. People were in the market, some were busy looting, while others mocked us that we had resurrected…but one Hutu woman was touched when she saw us and gave us clothing before we left the place.

“On our way, we met another group of militia who stopped us and asked us to sit down, many people came from nowhere and surrounded us, it became clear to us that were going to die, but suddenly word reached the militia that wanted to kill us that the RPA soldiers were around the corner, they left immediately and we survived.”


Holocaust Is Fading From Memory, Survey Finds


West Hartford Lawmakers Lead Support for Holocaust and Genocide Education Awareness Bill

we-ha.com/west-hartford-lawmakers-lead-support-holocaust-genocide-education-awareness-bill

March 15, 2018

A hearing was held Wednesday on Senate Bill 452, legislation that would require Holocaust and genocide education awareness to be included in the social studies curriculum.

Members of the West Hartford legislative delegation urged their colleagues to supportSenate Bill 452, which seeks to require Holocaust and genocide education awareness to be included in the social studies curriculum for public schools.

The legislation was introduced by the legislature’s Education Committee, headed by House Chairman State Rep. Andy Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, and Vice Chairwoman State Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford.

“Though countless Connecticut residents know personally about the terror and pain of the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, and the genocides in Cambodia, East Timor, Rwanda and Sudan, many young people know nothing of this history,” Fleischmann said. “In fact, incidents

of anti-Semitism and hate in our schools have doubled each of the last two years. Other incidents – including assaults, bomb threats at our Jewish Community Center and vandalism – have happened in our community and across Connecticut. It’s critical that all students learn about genocide, and about the steps we must take to reject bias and hatred, and embrace love and empathy for all people.”

“It’s past time to pass this bill to ensure that no student in our state is unaware of or can forget what can happen when a group of citizens is isolated and demonized,” Bye said.

The committee held a public hearing on the proposal Wednesday. During the public hearing, State Rep. Derek Slap, D-West Hartford, and students from Avon High School voiced the importance of including Holocaust and genocide awareness education in the social studies curriculum.

“We must never forget the victims of the Holocaust and genocide and we must make sure past is not prologue. We must stand-up to violence and intolerance – whenever and wherever it happens,” Slap said. “Teaching our students about the Holocaust and genocide is critical. They must understand what societies are capable of. Awareness and education will help prevent atrocities in the future and help honor the victims of the past.”

Supporters of the bill said teaching students about the Holocaust and genocides are critical to helping to prevent future atrocities, and to honoring victims of the past.

“We along with our educational system have the obligation to remember and teach about these past and still occurring events so that we can effect change in future generations’ perceptions of hate and intolerance,” said Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut Executive Director Michael Bloom.

“I believe it is imperative that all school districts in Connecticut include Holocaust and genocide studies in their social studies curriculum,” said Julia Shufro, a senior at Avon High School. “I think that it is very important for everyone in high school to learn about the Holocaust and other genocides because they illuminate the fact that hate crimes and intolerance can be targeted toward any group, that no one is immune, and that nobody should be treated differently because of his or her race, ethnicity, religion or belief.”

“If we want to remember the Holocaust and learn from it, providing students with every opportunity to grow and learn is essential. As more and more time grows between the horrors that occurred in Europe today, it becomes more and more important to equip students with the knowledge that could prevent another event of this kind. Students need to understand the consequences of hate and ignorance so that this generation can attempt to better the global community,” said Anna Szekeres, a junior at Avon High School.

“Students need to learn empathy. They need to understand that we have to remain vigilant, and we cannot allow genocides to pass without our knowledge. We cannot allow the victims to fade into history, or become part of another statistic. Students should be allowed the opportunity to recognize that these events are very human, and they should be allowed to

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understand the perspectives of the victims and the oppressors. I believe that if students are given the chance to study this aspect of human nature, they may begin to understand what it takes to prevent such events from occurring again,” said Zoe Quinones, a junior at Avon High School.

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Video Testimony of Dr. Joseph Olzacki on the Holocaust and Genocide Education

Voices of Hope, along with the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut (JFACT), are working to create a statewide mandate that will require Holocaust and Genocide Education to be taught in Connecticut schools. On March 14th, 2018, there will be a public hearing at the State Capitol to discuss this issue. In his absence, Dr. Joseph Olzacki has recorded the below testimony on why this mandate is not only necessary, but paramount in preventing future genocides.

Watch video testimony from Dr. Olzacki here.


Intelligence Research Report: The Jews in Poland Since the Liberation


Super Bowl Attendees in Minnesota Will Be Greeted by Holocaust Survivor Exhibition

Super Bowl Attendees in Minnesota Will Be Greeted by Holocaust Survivor Exhibition

An exhibition at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport displaying portraits of 52 survivors from the Twin Cities region shows how they overcame great tragedy to live great lives

The "Transfer of Memory" exhibition at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport.
David Sherman

Thousands of football fans flying into Minneapolis-St. Paul for Super Bowl LII this weekend will be struck by an unconventional artistic sight at the airport’s terminals: a photographic exhibition of Holocaust survivors living in the metropolitan area known as the Twin Cities.

Brothers Mark and Zygi Wilf – who own the local National Football League franchise and whose parents survived the Shoah – are among those underwriting the airport’s exhibition, which opened in December and will close Monday as most fans fly home after Sunday night’s game.

The display intends to capitalize on the Super Bowl’s presence to increase people’s awareness of “where bigotry, intolerance and prejudice can lead,” Mark Wilf told Haaretz this week.

The 44 portraits, showing 52 survivors from 10 countries, have been exhibited over the past six years in Minnesota and several surrounding states – in such places as synagogues, churches, community centers, armories and concert halls. But the NFL’s championship game offers unique visibility.

Sunday’s game pits the favored New England Patriots against the Philadelphia Eagles. The two teams’ owners, Robert Kraft and Jeffrey Lurie, are both Jewish. Kraft brought 18 NFL Hall of Fame players to Israel last June, on a goodwill tour that included a visit to the sports campus bearing his name near the Knesset in Jerusalem.

“As part of Super Bowl LII, we thought [the exhibition] would be a win for this community of survivors,” said Wilf, whose Minnesota Vikings came within a game of becoming the first ever team to compete in the Super Bowl in its own stadium.

“Next year, God willing, we’ll be in the game,” he said. “But we’ll enjoy the experience of hosting this game in the Twin Cities.”

The Wilfs’ parents, Joseph and Elizabeth, and the family’s charitable foundation have long supported programs that aid survivors and strengthen Holocaust education. Joseph passed away in 2016.

“The whole world is coming to the Twin Cities this week to watch a football game – one of the premier sports events in the world. These [survivors] overcame great obstacles and tragedy in their lives, and they were resilient. They built productive lives and are great examples to people,” Wilf said.

Judy Baron, 89, and her husband Fred, a survivor from Vienna, are shown in one of the portraits, taken in 2011. Fred Baron passed away in 2014 at age 91.

Judy Baron, 89, and her husband, Fred Baron, in 2011. Fred passed away in 2014 at age 91.
David Sherman/Transfer of Memory

A native of Marosvásárhely, Hungary (now Târgu Mures, Romania), Judy survived three concentration camps and lost both parents and her two sisters in the Holocaust. “It is a very big honor to have [the photographs] exhibited when the football game is here,” she said.

The exhibition, named “Transfer of Memory,” is expected to have been viewed by nearly 2 million people at the airport, said Anthony Sussman, communications director for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. The Wilfs, the Vikings, the JCRC and Delta Airlines (for which the airport is a hub) are sponsoring the exhibition at the airport.

The photographs are accompanied by text covering the subjects’ paths from the Holocaust to Minnesota.

In advance of the Super Bowl, the JCRC has been sending out the survivors’ photographs and stories. That effort, along with related programs it hosts in synagogues and churches, “lead to a bigger conversation about building inclusive communities and standing up to hate,” said Laura Zelle, the exhibition’s curator and the JCRC’s director of Holocaust education.

Twenty-two of the subjects have died since the photographs were taken, including one couple (Eli and Fanni Kamlot, of Vienna) and sisters Mary Ackos Calof and Esther Ackos Winthrop, natives of Greece. One of the most striking portraits shows Eva Gross, who was 83 at the time, sitting on the arm of a couch beside her mother, Ella Weiss, then 100. Weiss passed away shortly after the photo was taken.

Ella Weiss, 100, sitting with her daughter Eva Gross, 83. Ella passed away shortly after the image was taken.
David Sherman/Transfer of Memory

The photographer, David Sherman, called the experience of taking all of the pictures “humbling.”

“I set out to make portraits of these survivors before they die. You just learn that survivors are special people – that as soon as the war was over, they started right away to rebuild their lives,” he said.


The University of Hartford’s Greenberg Center gets new digs

From the Jewish Ledger

By Stacey Dresner

HARTFORD – For years, the prestigious Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford was tucked away in a cramped, less than prestigious 1,000-square-foot office in the school’s Auerbach Hall.

Not anymore.

In December, the Greenberg Center moved into a space in the Harry Jack Gray Center far more befitting its stature as “one of the crown jewels of the university,” as once described by University of Hartford President Emeritus Walter Harrison.

Greenberg lobby

The newly renovated $1.2 million space is also more befitting Professor Richard Freund, the executive director of the Greenberg Center and archeologist extraordinaire who travels all over the world to excavate such sites as the Cave of Letters, Qumram, the Sobibor extermination camp, and even the fabled Atlantis.

“The university has taken a tremendous leap with us, to take the Greenberg Center into the 21st century,” Freund said.

On Wednesday, Jan. 24, a “soft” opening of the new Greenberg Center was held for the university community. Faculty, staff and students watched as Greenberg Center founder Arnold Greenberg and his wife, Beverly, cut the ribbon on the new center.

“The new space is really quite beautiful and represents a significant increase for us in terms of usable space,” said Arnold Greenberg, who lauded the individuals who helped make the new Greenberg Center possible – 35 years after it was created.

“We knew it would take time because space is always at a premium at a university, but we have been blessed with enormous support from all of the presidents of the university,” Greenberg said. “Without their support we couldn’t have realized as much as we have. The program and the center have been embraced by the university.”

University of Hartford President Gregory Woodward and presidents emeriti Walter Harrison and Humphrey Tonkin were on hand at the opening to show that support.

“There are hundreds of great things going on at the University of Hartford but one of the best and most shining examples is the work of the Greenberg Center,” said Woodward. “They were functioning in a less than appealing space…and with the generosity of various friends and the Greenberg family themselves, we were able to come up with a plan to raise money to make a better space.”

The new Greenberg Center is now in the space that used to house the Hartt School’s Allen Music Library.

“At the same time we were renovating our major university library system. So the music library moved over to the real library, and it opened up this great opportunity to give the Greenberg Center this prominent space both in terms of the actual physical space as well as a more desirable location where people will come across and interact with the Greenberg Center more often,” Woodward said. “What a great moment to bring that important function to a better place.”

The week before the soft opening, Dr. Freund took the Jewish Ledger on a private tour of the new Greenberg Center.

The Center’s new Hatikvah Holocaust Resource Library.

“It is amazing that we were able to transform a space like the Allen Library to a space that is so multi-use,” Freund said.

The Center is now entered through a bright front lobby with a lounge area in which students can study or socialize and a front desk manned by office coordinator Susan Gottlieb, jokingly likened by Professor Freund to Captain Kirk’s command center on the Starship Enterprise.

A large central room — the Millie and Irving Bercowetz Research and Study Library — anchors the Center. The multi-use room features several worktables designed for quiet study as well as comfy armchairs with small built-in tables just big enough for students’ laptops. One wall features a screen enabling the space to be used for film and video screenings. The room will also be used for lectures and other events.

“This is a work in progress,” Freund said as he led the informal tour. “The curator is going to transform this into, I think, a beautiful space.”

But even without the artwork and artifacts that have yet to make it to the walls and display cases, the new Center is an inviting space designed to be enjoyed by students, faculty and even the public.

“This is the point – to have people from the community seeing students, talking to students; to have a space where they can all actually meet, and feel they can discuss things,” Freund said. “It is ‘town and gown.’ That has always been the mission of the Greenberg Center – that it’s not just for the students on the campus but for the whole community.”

The “centerpiece” of the Greenberg Center, Freund says, pointing to the bookshelves lining the walls of the Bercowetz Library, are thousands of Holocaust-related books. This collection of 5,000 books in the Center’s Hatikvah Holocaust Resource Library, which was purchased and donated by the Zachs Family Foundation, is named for the Hatikvah Holocaust Center in Springfield, Mass., which used to house the books and which closed its doors in 2010. The books are already catalogued and ready to be used as resources.

“This will be a central part of the center,” agreed Avinoam Patt, the Center’s Philip D. Feltman Professor and director of the Museum of Jewish Civilization. “This is what I do — Holocaust education — and we wanted teachers to be able to come and use these resources… We now have several thousand books dedicated to the Holocaust, a whole reference section and the largest film section dedicated to Holocaust education.”

Running along one side of the main room are two back-to-back classrooms, separated from the main space by see-through glass display cases, intended to hold many of the Greenberg Center’s treasures. A mannequin clothed in the garb of a Roman gladiator stands at attention in the corner of one of the classrooms.

“I will be able to teach archeology and be able to show the students the artifacts while

I am teaching,” Freund said as he removed a small ancient scroll from one of the display cases. “I can actually take artifacts out and have students examine them. To show them that this is what it looks like. They can hold it; they can touch it. It makes a very big difference.”

On the other side of the Bercowetz Library, there are four offices for Professors Freund, Patt and the program’s Hebrew and Arabic language instructors.

Near the lobby is the Special Collections room, now earmarked for the Kostin Research Library, a private collection of more than 6,000 books written about nearly every Jewish community around the world, collected by Hartford businessman Dane Kostin.

The Center includes a Holocaust collection resource room with computer and an assortment of Holocaust videos, and a separate meeting room.

Also a part of the new Greenberg Center is the Holocaust Education Resource and Outreach Center or HERO Center, which is now a shared initiative of the Greenberg Center and the Farmington-based Voices of Hope.

Founded by businessman Alan Lazowski and the families of Holocaust survivors across the state, Voices of Hope collects personal accounts of survivors and teaches the lessons of the Holocaust through personal testimonies in classrooms and lecture halls around the state.

“We work closely together,” Patt said. “What we realized is that too often we ended up competing against each other. So we said, ‘We have the resources here, you have the outreach mission, let’s partner and work together.”

As an example, Patt mentioned a February field trip that Kingswood Oxford’s middle school students will be taking to the Greenberg Center.

“Now what we are able to do is have 150 students downstairs in Wilde Auditorium to meet with a survivor, and then we will be able to have kids visit the Resource Center and the Jewish Heritage Museum,” Patt said.

With the new Center, not only will more field trips be offered to provide education for the state’s school children, but community programs are already planned for the entire community. 

Shown here at the soft opening of the new Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies on Jan. 24 are (front, l to r) Greenberg Center founders Beverly and Arnold Greenberg cutting the ribbon, and Prof. Richard Freund, executive director (back, l to r,) U of H President Gregory Woodward and Prof. Avinoam Patt.

“We are always trying to come up with programs that tie in with our classes and that people in the community will want to attend,” Freund said.

Programs already scheduled are “Art and Spirituality” with Siona Benjamin (a Jew raised in Bombay) on Feb. 20 in the Wilde Auditorium; Samantha Baskin and Patt on “The 75th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising,” on April 16 in the Center’s Bercowetz Library; and The Greenberg Center’s Annual Awards Evening on May 7.

The May 7 event, which represents the formal public opening of the new Greenberg Center to the entire community, will feature guest speaker Paula Apsell, the senior executive director of NOVA, the PBS documentary series.

But the Center’s events will not only include the academic.

With a kosher kitchen located in the back, Freund is hoping the space will also be used for more romantic engagements.

“If people say, ‘I’d like to get married at the Greenberg Center, can I do that?’ The answer is yes,” he stated. “Kosher kitchens are central because we want to have events here. I can imagine alumni coming back here to get married. It’s got all the bells and whistles.”

“This is going to be a destination,” Freund added. “When people come to Hartford they are going to want to come to the Greenberg Center.”