Hadassah-Brandeis Institute

Members of the HBI Holocaust Research Study Group

Ornit Barkai, Documentary Filmmaker 

Ornit is an Affiliated Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, a Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Research Associate and a former Scholar-in-Residence. She is a documentary filmmaker whose work offers cross-generational and multicultural perspectives on narratives of memory and memorialization. Exploring themes of gender, culture, and identity and topics of modern Jewish history, she creates international cross-platform content in a variety of genres and formats. Formerly a broadcast journalist, news director and radio host, Ornit worked in TV and Radio broadcasting in the US and Israel. 

Karen Frostig, Public Memory Artist

Karen is a public memory artist, writer, cultural historian, activist, Professor of Art at Lesley University, and Affiliated Scholar at the Women Studies Research Center. Founding Director of the Locker of Memory (2019-), a multi-media project dedicated to restoring lost history to a forgotten camp in Latvia, she was also Director of The Vienna Project (2013-2014), Vienna’s first naming memorial.  Karen presented her family’s history and her work at the United Nations General Assembly, 2023 Holocaust Day Remembrance Program. Karen holds dual citizenship in the Republic of Austria and the United States.

Debra R. Kaufman, Sociologist

Debra is Professor Emerita and Matthews Distinguished University Professor at Northeastern University. She is the author of thrice award-nominated Rachel’s Daughters; Achievement and Women (honorable mention, C. Wright Mills Award); and the guest editor and author for Women Scholarship and the Holocaust (Contemporary Jewry). She writes and lectures on feminist analyses of memory, history, and culture in the making of post-Holocaust contemporary Jewish identities. Debra is the recipient of the Annual Marshall Sklare Award from the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry

Laurel Leff, Journalist

Laurel is Professor of Journalism and Associate Director of Jewish Studies at Northeastern University in Boston. Her latest book Well Worth Saving: American Universities’ Life and Death Decisions on Refugees from Nazi Europe was a finalist for a 2020 National Jewish Book Award. Her previous book is Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper. Laurel was formerly a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and The Miami Herald, and an editor with American Lawyer Media Inc. and The Hartford Courant

Jutta Lindert, Public Health Professor 

Jutta is Professor of Public Health at the University of Emden, Germany, and Affiliated Scholar at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center. Her main research is on violence and mental health, including the Holocaust and its direct, transgenerational effects on the mental health of survivors, perpetrators, and bystanders. Other research areas include global public mental health and mental health and resilience. She is Vice-President of the “Public Mental Health” section of the European Association of Mental Health (EUPHA) and is involved in international research projects investigating mental health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Rachel Rapperport Munn, Writer & Poet

Rachel is a Hadassah-Brandeis Research Associate and chair of the HBI Holocaust Research Study Group at Brandeis University.  A former Resident and Affiliated Scholar at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center, she has taught university courses at Brandeis, the Graduate Consortium in Women’s Studies (Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University), and Wentworth Institute of Technology. A past Fulbright Fellow in Berlin, Germany, Rachel received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University and a Master of Architecture degree from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. 

Karin Rosenthal, Fine Art Photographer

Karin has been uncovering her family’s history in Nazi Germany for decades. She recently facilitated images for a new permanent display at the Jewish Museum Berlin about her parents’ emigration from Germany. Learning the fates of 19 lost relatives has profoundly affected her imagery as a fine art photographer. Her award-winning photographs have been exhibited internationally and reside in 17 museum collections, including Boston’s MFA, the Rose and Fogg Art Museums, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Yale University Art Gallery. Karin is an Affiliated Scholar at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center. 

Sarah Silberstein Swartz, Writer & Memoirist

Sarah is a prose writer and book editor who has produced award-winning volumes in women’s studies and Jewish history. Her work has been published internationally in the United States, Canada, Germany, and Poland. Her latest book is Heroines, Rescuers, Rabbis, Spies: Unsung Women of the Holocaust. A Research Associate at Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and past Visiting Scholar at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center, Sarah is completing a memoir about her experiences as the daughter of Polish Holocaust survivors in post-war Berlin and her journeys to Poland over the past three decades.