Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener, D.Min., Clinical Director of the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling, served as the Jewish faculty member on a study trip to Germany and Poland with a group of interfaith seminary students.
In January, Rabbi Wiener was invited to join the three-person faculty of the FASPE (Fellowship at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics) seminary program: to select 14 students from a pool of over 200, to provide a syllabus of background readings on the rise of Nazism and the Shoah, and to lead study sessions while on the trip designed to focus student attention on the ethical and pastoral responsibilities of religious leaders and institutions.
While in Poland, the group spent one day at Auschwitz I and a second day at Auschwitz II/Birkenau, an additional two days visiting Cracow, where they welcomed Shabbat at the synagogue once served by the medieval commentator Isserles, and shared Shabbat dinner at the Jewish Community Center of Cracow.
The trip to Germany focused on Berlin and its environs. In Berlin, they participated in a multi-hour walking tour of the city, which included different memorials, the Jewish quarter, the Topography of Terror, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, among others. The group also took special trips to Wannsee, the T4 Museum/Memorial in Brandenberg/Havel, and the Track 17 Memorial.
Throughout the trip, Rabbi Wiener and the other faculty members helped students reflect on their experiences, consider the ethical decisions their predecessors made during the Nazi era, and discuss the ethical challenges of our day and the role clergy and religious communities and institutions can play.