HUC-JIR Student Chosen for Unique International Ethics Program

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Emily Langowitz Joins Groundbreaking Program for Seminary and Divinity School Students

Emily Langowitz, a fourth-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), was chosen by FASPE (Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics) to participate in a two-week program in Europe this summer, which uses the conduct of the clergy in Nazi Germany as a launching point for an intensive course of study on ethical issues facing religious leaders today.

Now in its seventh year of operation, FASPE is an innovative international program for students in five professional disciplines (business, journalism, law, medicine, and religion) designed to address contemporary ethical issues in their chosen fields through a unique historical lens. FASPE is predicated upon the power of place, and in particular, the first-hand experience of visiting Auschwitz and other historic sites associated with the Holocaust, where Fellows consider how to apply the lessons of history to the ethical challenges they will confront in their professions. FASPE examines the roles played by professionals in business, journalism, law, medicine, and the clergy in Nazi Germany, underscoring that the moral codes governing these essential professions can break down or be distorted with devastating consequences.

"By educating students about the causes of the Holocaust and the power of their chosen professions, FASPE seeks to instill a sense of professional responsibility for the ethical and moral choices that the Fellows will make in their careers and in their professional relationships," said C. David Goldman, founder of FASPE.

"I am very much looking forward to participating as a fellow in the seminary track of FASPE. This will be my first trip to Poland, and, as a future Jewish clergy person, it feels like an essential part of my personal and professional growth," said Langowitz. "The FASPE experience — with its focus on ethical thinking about the past and our current moment, as well as the interfaith nature of the program — seems, to me, the ideal educational opportunity for learning about this piece of my people’s history."

Over the course of 12 days, Langowitz and the FASPE Fellows will attend lectures with a range of guest speakers and participate in seminars run by leading scholars who serve as FASPE faculty. The program integrates historical, cultural, philosophical, and literary sources; survivor testimony; and workshops in Berlin, Auschwitz, and Krakow.  

The 2016 FASPE Seminary program will be led by Rabbi James Ponet (HUC-JIR/Cincinnati '73), the Howard M. Holtzmann Jewish Chaplain at Yale University; and Father Kevin Spicer, the James J. Kenneally Distinguished Professor of History at Stonehill College and author of several publications on the role of Christian clergy in Nazi Germany.

A native of Wellesley, Massachusetts, Langowitz earned a bachelor’s degree in Near Eastern languages and civilizations from Yale University. While training to become a rabbi she has served in many roles, from Hebrew teacher to hospital chaplain to congregational intern. Most recently, she worked at the Religious Institute in Westport, Connecticut, a multi-faith organization that advocates for sexual health, education, and justice.

Langowitz joins a group of 63 FASPE Fellows who represent a broad range of religious, ethnic, and racial backgrounds, and who were chosen through a competitive process that drew over 700 applicants from around the world. FASPE covers all program costs, including transatlantic and European travel, food, and lodging. Over the past six years, FASPE has worked with over 320 Fellows using curricula designed in partnership with faculty from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Georgetown University, Yale Law School, and the Yale School of Medicine.

FASPE Seminary Fellows, along with the Medical Fellows, will begin their program in Berlin on Sunday, June 19, 2016. In Berlin, the program includes museum visits, meeting with a Holocaust survivor, and attending educational workshops at the House of the Wannsee Conference, the site where representatives of State and Nazi Party agencies convened in 1942 to discuss and coordinate plans for the Nazis’ “Final Solution.”   

The Fellows then travel to Oświęcim, Poland, the town the Germans called Auschwitz, where they will work with the distinguished educational staff at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. Sessions devoted to contemporary ethics will take place in seminar rooms at Auschwitz and at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious universities. The final leg of the trip will be held in Krakow, Poland, where Fellows will explore the city’s rich Catholic, Jewish, and Polish history.

After the program, each Fellow will submit a final written essay focused on a contemporary ethical issue of his or her choice. Select essays will be published in the annual FASPE Journal, which showcases essays in all five disciplines.

"FASPE is committed to a long-term relationship with Fellows in order to sustain the ideas raised during the program. FASPE fosters an active network of alumni and provides a variety of opportunities for Fellows to exchange ideas and to meet to continue the dialogue started during our trips as they move forward in their careers," said Thorin R. Tritter, FASPE’s Managing Director. "The centerpiece of these efforts is our annual Alumni Reunion & Symposium where Fellows from all years discuss the current issues in their respective fields and participate in various inter-disciplinary networking activities."

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.