70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz Marked by New Book Featuring HUC-JIR Administration, Faculty, and Alumni

Monday, January 26, 2015

“God, Faith & Identity from the Ashes: Reflections of Children and Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors” (Jewish Lights Publishing) features powerful essays by HUC-JIR administration, faculty, and alumni who are the offspring of Holocaust Survivors. 

Almost ninety contributors from sixteen countries on six continents – theologians, scholars, spiritual leaders, authors, artists, political and community leaders, and media personalities – reflect on how the memories transmitted to them have affected their lives. Unlike other books with a psycho-social focus, this book is different.  Profoundly personal stories explore faith, identity, and legacy as well as the role of people today in ensuring that future genocides and similar atrocities never happen again.

Rabbi Tali Zelkowicz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Education and Professor Sara S. Lee Chair for an Emerging Scholar in Jewish Education, recalls how she was interviewed with her survivor grandmother for the “10th Anniversary Tribute to Holocaust Survivors: Reunion of a Special Family” held in 2003 at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She states, “The same audacity it takes to claim a narrative in a family’s survival legacy brings emotional freedom.  Rather than more Holocaust content, today I have a new yearning: To let go without leaving. To be released without rejecting.” 

Rabbi Michael Marmur, Ph.D. Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost, reflects on how he, a second-generation Reform rabbi living in Jerusalem, relates to questions of religion and identity presented by this heritage and questions if he is capable of formulating a response to the Holocaust.  He writes, “We are witnesses to God and humanity, and that call to witness is not predicated on assurances of reward in this world or the next.” 

Sylvia Posner, Assistant to the President and Administrative Executive and Assistant Secretary to the Board of Governors, describes how she raised her children to retell her parents’ stories.  She explains, “The overwhelming principle by which I raised our children can be simply stated: I wanted them to feel the tragedy in their hearts first and learn the facts later.”

Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Assistant Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs and Director of the HUC-JIR Museum, recounts how the legacy of the Shoah has informed her museum work with artists, the development of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum collections, and museum education. She notes, “Artists who are authentic witnesses to the eyewitnesses of the Shoah fulfill a unique role, for their relationship with survivors conveys a profound understanding that the victims of the Holocaust did not want to be remembered solely by how they suffered and died, nor do the survivors want to be defined only by their victimization.”

Other contributors to this book include alumni Rabbi Abie Ingber, Rabbi Judith Schindler, and Rabbi Kinneret Shiryon, and Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music faculty member Cantor Azi Schwartz.

For people of all faiths and backgrounds, these powerful and deeply moving statements will have a profound effect on the way current and future generations understand and shape an understanding of the Holocaust. Edited by Menachem Z. Rosensaft with a prologue by Elie Wiesel, this life-affirming volume contributes a new understanding of how the Holocaust will be transmitted to the generations to come.

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu