Fishman Scholar

The Holocaust and Genocide Studies Program hosts the annual Fishman Holocaust Studies Scholar-in-Residence, which is supported by Dr. Lawrence M. Fishman and his wife Suzanne R. Fishman’s $100,000 gift to expand Holocaust education and outreach. The scholar-in-residence lectures about the Jewish experience of the Holocaust at FIU, the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU (JMOF) and at local high schools to raise awareness among the youth.

2016 - Roger Grunwald

  • Sunday, Jan. 31: JMOF
  • Monday, Feb. 1: Scheck Hillel Community School, North Miami Beach
  • Tuesday, Feb. 2: MMC

Roger Grunwald has been a professional performing artist for close to four decades. His voice and face have been heard on and seen in commercials, industrials, soap operas and in major studio features, as well as in documentaries for HBO, Court Television Network, the Discovery Channel and two independent short films. The Mitzvah Project represents Roger’s promise to use his skills to connect the theater and its capacity to touch people with the historical necessity of keeping the lessons of the Holocaust alive.

The Mitzvah Project

The Mitzvah Project is a combination of theater, history lessons, and conversations in which Grunwald, an actor and a child of a survivor, explores one of the most shocking aspects of the Jewish experience during the Second World War. Through the story of Christoph Rosenberg, a German half-Jew, this one-person drama revealed the surprising history of tens of thousands of German men known as “mischlinge” who served in Hitler’s army. The Mitzvah Project was created in homage to Grunwald’s mother who survived Auschwitz and his aunt who survived Bergen-Belsen. It engaged several socio/cultural/historical issues: Who decides what culture, race and ethnicity mean? What is identity? What responsibility do we have to the dead? Does killing another human being have a place in a moral universe? Do human beings have the capacity to learn from history? This project represented Roger’s promise to use his skills to connect the theater and its capacity to touch people with the historical necessity of keeping the lessons of the Holocaust alive. Grunwald performed The Mitzvah Project at three different venues for three distinct audiences over a three-day period.

2017 – Dr. Michael Berenbaum

  • Sunday, Feb. 12: “Was FDR as Bad for the Jews as Some Think He Was?,” JMOF
  • Monday, Feb. 13: “Teshuvot from the Shoah,” Katz Yeshiva High School, Boca Raton
  • Tuesday, Feb. 14: “Religion and the Holocaust in Contemporary Discourse,” MMC

Dr. Michael Berenbaum is a writer, lecturer, and teacher consulting in the conceptual development of museums and the development of historical films. He serves as the Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust and as a Professor of Jewish Studies at the American Jewish University. The author and editor of 20 books, scores of scholarly articles, and hundreds of journalistic pieces, he was also the Executive Director of the Second Edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica. He was the project director overseeing the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the first director of its Research Institute. He later served as president and CEO of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation created by Stephen Spielberg, which took the testimony of 52,000 Holocaust survivors in 32 languages and 57 countries and is now the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education. His work in film has won Emmy and Academy Awards.

Was FDR as Bad for the Jews as Some Think He Was? (JMOF)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt has not fared well among Holocaust scholars, and even worse among American Jews. Arthur Morse’s popular work While Six Million Died and David Wyman’s study The Abandonment of the Jews hold the Roosevelt Administration and the president himself accountable for their inaction and indifference to the fate of the Jews. In his talk, Dr. Berenbaum explored the questions: Who are we to judge FDR? Was he a catastrophe and an anti-Semite? Was he indispensable and heroic? Was he both?

Teshuvot from the Shoah (KYHS)

Based on a project editing a Holocaust sourcebook for Haredi secondary schools, Dr. Berenbaum discussed with KYHS juniors and seniors a series of challenging halakhic cases, such as whether or not to put a mezuzah on the door of a ghetto residence or whether a Jew caught up in the circumstances of the Shoah should recite the morning blessing praising God as the one who “frees the slaves.”

Religion and the Holocaust in Contemporary Discourse (MMC)

In a world of relativism, the Holocaust has taken its place as the Negative Absolute. People use the word “evil” to call attention to their suffering—the Black Holocaust; the Holocaust of the American Indians; the Holocaust in Kosovo, Rwanda, Bosnia. The Holocaust is the nuclear bomb of moral epithets; an event of such magnitude that the more we sense the relativism of values, the more we require the Holocaust as the foundation for a negative absolute. This may be the reason why European nations leaders have rediscovered the importance of the Holocaust for contemporary moral education and Holocaust deniers oppose an event that all reason and rationality demonstrate cannot be denied. Dr. Berenbaum's lecture probed the appropriate and inappropriate invocations of the Holocaust and provided criteria by which to judge them.

2018 – John K. Roth

  • Sunday, Feb. 11: “Ethics During and After the Holocaust,” JMOF
  • Monday, Feb. 12: “Remembering Elie Wiesel,” KYHS
  • Tuesday, Feb. 13: “Losing Trust in the World,” MMC

John K. Roth is the Edward J. Sexton Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights (now the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights) at Claremont McKenna College. Roth has published hundreds of articles and reviews and authored, co-authored or edited more than fifty books. Named the 1988 U.S. National Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, he has also received the Holocaust Educational Foundation’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Holocaust Studies and Research.

Ethics During and After the Holocaust (JMOF)

At one point in his memoir, All Rivers Run to the Sea, Elie Wiesel’s memory of the Holocaust makes him wonder: “And what of human ideals, or of the beauty of innocence or the weight of justice?... Why all these deaths?” Questions like these shape the Holocaust’s legacy. What happened to ethics during and after the Holocaust? This question looms large and calls us to accountability. This accountability requires a three-fold recognition: Nazism and the Holocaust were an assault on the values that human beings hold most dear when we are at our best; nothing human, natural or divine guarantees respect for those values; and nothing is more important than our commitment to defend them, for they remain as fundamental as they are fragile, as precious as they are endangered.

Remembering Elie Wiesel (KYHS)

Based on a decades-long personal and professional relationship with the late author, Holocaust survivor-spokesperson, and Nobel laureate, Dr. Roth discussed with KYHS juniors and seniors Wiesel’s famous essay, “Why I Write,” his memoir, Night, his speech in the presence of President Reagan on the occasion of receiving the Congressional Gold Medal in 1985, and other works that grapple with the challenge of communicating the experiences of the Shoah to future generations and all of those who were not there. Roth, as a Christian, conveyed as well the ways Wiesel’s work impacted him personally, and his own struggle to relate to and teach the Holocaust over a long and distinguished career.

Losing Trust in the World (MMC)

The Auschwitz survivor Jean Améry said that Nazi torture destroyed his trust in the world: “Every morning when I get up, I can read the Auschwitz number on my forearm... Every day anew I lose my trust in the world.” Another Holocaust survivor, Primo Levi, received life-saving aid in Auschwitz from Lorenzo Perrone, an Italian stone mason who believed that “we are in this world to do good.” With references to current events as well to Holocaust history, this discussion focused on the importance of Lorenzo’s belief, particularly in times and circumstances, including or own, that erode confidence about what is right and good and undermine trust in the world.

2019 – Sara R. Horowitz

  • Friday, Feb. 8: “What We Learn, At Last: Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence and Sexuality in Deferred Holocaust Autobiographies and Testimonies,” MMC
  • Sunday, Feb. 10: “Holocaust Shadows on the City of Lights,” JMOF
  • Monday, Feb. 11: “Mothers and Daughters in the Shoah,” KYHS

Sara R. Horowitz is Professor of Comparative Literature and Humanities and former Director of the Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University in Toronto. She is the author of Voicing the Void: Muteness and Memory in Holocaust Fiction, which received the Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Book, and served the senior founding editor of the Azrieli Series of Holocaust Memoirs—Canada (Series 1 and 2). She is the editor of Lessons and Legacies of the Holocaust Volume X: Back to the Sources (2012), and co-editor of Hans Günther Adler: Life, Literature, Legacy (2016) which received the Canadian Jewish Literary Award, and of Encounter with Appelfeld, and other books. In addition, she is founding co-editor of the journal KEREM: A Journal of Creative Explorations in Judaism. She served as editor for Literature for The Cambridge Dictionary of Judaism and Jewish Culture, ed. Judith Baskin. She publishes extensively on contemporary Holocaust literature, gender and Holocaust memory survivors, and Jewish North American fiction. She served as president of the Association for Jewish Studies, sits on the Academic Advisory Committee of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Academic Advisory Council of the Holocaust Education Foundation. Currently, she is completing a book called “Gender, Genocide, and Jewish Memory” and another entitled “Jewish Shadows on the City of Lights.”

What We Learn, At Last: Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence and Sexuality in Deferred Holocaust Autobiographies and Testimonies (MMC)

Deferred and belated memory narratives of the Shoah enrich and complicate our understanding of how people experienced, contended with, and recollected their experiences in the Nazi genocide. The stories survivors eventually tell—publicly, privately, cryptically or directly—sometimes contain revelations about delicate and sensitive issues that survivors did not feel free to share earlier. Particularly for women who were children or teenagers during the Shoah—but also for some men—topics such as sexual barter, sexual experimentation, and sexual abuse emerge. Their stories disturb us and challenge us as listeners. How do survivors give shape to narratives of sexual encounters? In thinking about these difficult narratives, Dr. Horowitz complicated such categories as abuse, agency, coercion, and consent, and examined first-hand accounts about sexuality as attempts to engage, deflect, shape and resist interpretation and judgment.

Holocaust Shadows on the City of Lights (JMOF)

Between the two World Wars, Paris was a magnet for eastern European Jews fleeing oppression and attracted by its promise of equality. But these “foreign Jews”—immigrants and their children—were the most vulnerable during the Nazi occupation of Paris and the ensuing round-ups and deportations. After World War II, the public conversation about the evils of the war rarely acknowledged Jewish victimization. Post-war Jewish writing—by both native Parisians and war refugees—walks their readers through the city’s streets and neighborhoods. In their writing, the cityscape itself bears witness to the absent Jews, and what happened to them. Dr. Horowitz shared her latest research on Jewish refugees and residents of Paris—including those who survived in hiding—writing in and about the city of lights immediately after World War II, exploring themes of absence, mourning, home and displacement in the aftermath of the Shoah.

Mothers and Daughters in the Shoah (KYHS)

The Shoah created circumstances that had a powerful impact on women in their roles as mothers and as daughters. In a wide-ranging and interactive discussion with KYHS seniors, Dr. Horowitz took a close look at some of the implications, as described through memoirs and testimonies from women about their experiences before, during, and after the war. Based on testimonies she has personally collected or read, Dr. Horowitz raised a series of challenging issues specific to the mother-daughter relationship and responded to a series of probing and thoughtful questions from students.