Holocaust Conference and Study Tour—December 2007


In December 2007 I had the good fortune of participating in a ten-day conference and study tour organized by the Holocaust Educational Foundation (HEF). The December 2007 trip started with a two-day conference organized in cooperation with Yad Vashem: The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, Israel.  An international group of scholars presented papers on a variety of topics that included literary and artistic representations of the Holocaust, the Catholic Church and antisemitism, the role of collaborators, Israeli historiography on the Holocaust, trauma and survivors’ experiences after the war, and Allied responses to the policies of the Third Reich.


Following the conference, HEF organized a tour of Israel for most of the conference participants.  While some of the sites we visited are those most tourists to Israel visit such as the Old City in Jerusalem, Massada near the Dead Sea, archaeological excavations such as Qumrum, Beth Shean, and Caesarea, HEF also organized excursions to places that have a direct connection with the Holocaust.  For example, we spent a morning at Lohamei HaGetaot, a kibbutz founded by survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto.  As part of its museum devoted to ghetto resistance and struggle, Lohamei HaGetaot has established a children’s museum devoted to the study of the Holocaust from the perspective of children.  In addition, Lohamei HaGetaot has an archive and runs a variety of educational programs designed to educate the public about the Holocaust.  We also spent an evening at Nof Ginosar Hotel, run by a kibbutz located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.  Nof Ginosar was established in the 1930s, but many of its members were Holocaust survivors.  Participation in the conference and study tour expanded my knowledge of the Holocaust and deepened my appreciation for the critical role played by the study of the Holocaust in the world today. 


Established by Theodore Weiss and other Holocaust survivors, along with their children and friends, in 1980, HEF seeks “to preserve and promotes awareness of the reality of the Holocaust.”  HEF fulfills its mission by: 1) promoting the teaching of the Holocaust at colleges, universities, and secondary schools in the United States and elsewhere, 2) holding biannual conferences on the Holocaust whose the papers are published by Northwestern University Press in its “Lessons and Legacies” series, 3) providing fellowships for graduate students engaged in Holocaust research. 4) organizing summer institutes where college and university faculty from the United States and the former Soviet study the history and culture of European Jewry, and 5) leading trips to Eastern Europe for college and university faculty and college seniors where the participants visit Holocaust sites.  I encourage those interested in learning more about HEF to visit its website at: http://www.holocaustef.org/index.html