Hadassah-Brandeis Institute

2023 HBI Holocaust Research Study Group Titles and Presentations for Virtual April 18th Event


Laurel Leff

The Holocaust as an American Story: Scholarship through the Decades   

Understanding of the U.S. response to the Holocaust has changed during the almost 80 years since World War II’s end: from emphasizing the greatest generation’s heroism while insisting Americans had little knowledge of the extermination campaign while it was happening; to criticizing U.S. institutions, including the Roosevelt administration, the Jewish community and the press for their indifference; to seeking a middle ground that would make more comprehensible and palatable the nation’s reaction to the cataclysmic events. Each generation’s telling reveals more about the Holocaust and about the United States’ role in it.  

Sarah Swartz

Heroines, Rescuers, Rabbis, Spies: Teaching Young People about the Holocaust 

People ask me: Why write a book about heroines of the Holocaust for young people today — and why specifically stories about women? I discuss the importance of Holocaust education and how my book Heroines, Rescuers, Rabbis, Spies: Unsung Women of the Holocaust provides an alternative for young people to counter sexism, bigotry, and online disinformation.

Rachel Munn

On Becoming a Matriarch: Motherhood, Family Stories and a Holocaust Inheritance

How do we become matriarchs? How do we explore the inheritance of family Holocaust stories set within a wider Holocaust Narrative?  I examine these questions on a personal level through creative narrative poetry about motherhood, my extended family, and a Holocaust inheritance.

Ornit Barkai:

Holocaust Memory: Past Forward to Future Generations

Examining intergenerational memory transmission, Ornit's film Past Forward documents a Holocaust story as it passes from mother to daughter and granddaughter. Her experimental cinematic work (in other films such as August 17, 1939, From Anne Frank’s Window, and A Boy in Auschwitz) explores additional themes of Holocaust iconology and universalization, as she captures a “girl” and a “boy" in coincidental encounters with iconic Holocaust imagery. Utilizing new media platforms and emerging technologies, she creates interactive storytelling and dynamic content with an innovative approach to engage future generations in Holocaust memory. 


Karen Frostig

Transmission of Memory as a Public Memory Artist and Granddaughter of Murdered Victims

My presentation highlights my work as a public memory artist, addressing memory transmission to second and third generation descendants of victims and perpetrators, over two decades. I conclude my presentation with my speech, delivered at the United States General Assembly’s 2023 Holocaust Remembrance Program, where I return to the genesis of my work, which remains my family’s story.

Karin Rosenthal

She left with one suitcase; now I carry its weight

Learning my family history has changed my awareness. I realized, when visiting Berlin last summer, that everything I experienced on the streets my relatives had walked, had an added lens.  The deportations of my great-grandmother and other relatives from Berlin haunted my experience of today’s modern, multicultural city and resulted in a new piece of artwork.

Jutta Lindert

Memory and Memorialization in Context

The aim of my talk is to better understand and give an overview on meanings of memories and memorialization in different political and cultural contexts.

Debra Kaufman 

Millennial Post-Holocaust Jewish Identity Narratives: Working Through a Past that has not Passed Away 

Contrary to contemporary population opinion, social science data tell us that the Holocaust is far from fading from public memory. In fact, many scholars argue that the Holocaust has proven to be an important component of contemporary U.S. Jewish identity. However, how and why it is remembered varies by gender and socio-historic time. This presentation focuses on my research about the millennial generation and some ways in which these young adults “remember" and act upon the Holocaust in the construction of their Jewish identity narratives.