Jewish Responses to the Shoah: Insights from Personal Memoirs (Zoom)
EAST BRUNSWICK—East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Civic Center Drive) continues its Holocaust Remembrance Program series with "Jewish Responses to the Shoah." This online lecture will be held on Tuesday, May 25, at 7:00 pm.
Dr. Glenn Dynner, Professor of Religion at Sarah Lawrence College, will present the lecture "Jewish Responses to the Shoah: Insights from Personal Memoirs." There is a long line of memoirs about the Holocaust that compel us to "meditate that this came about," in the words of Primo Levi. For it is people's lives, rather than structures or data, that truly bring home the realities of evil, trauma, heroism, and moments of impossible humanity.
This talk surveys major Holocaust memoirs by Levi, Elie Wiesel, and more. The program includes a discussion of “The Remnant,” written by Michael Kesler, an East Brunswick resident who seems to have made all the right choices yet endured the paradoxical trauma of survival.
Glenn Dynner is Professor and Chair of the Religion Department at Sarah Lawrence College. His work explores the religious and social history of Polish Jewry. He is author of “Men of Silk: The Hasidic Conquest of Polish Jewish Society” (Oxford, 2006), which was awarded the Koret Publication Prize; and “Yankel’s Tavern: Jews, Liquor & Life in the Kingdom of Poland” (Oxford, 2014). He is a Fulbright scholar, a member of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies, and co-editor of the journal Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies. He is on the editorial boards of East European Jewish Affairs, Journal of Jewish Identities, and POLIN: A Journal of Polish Jewish Studies.
As a Guggenheim fellow, Dynner will study how the mass mystical movement known as Hasidism became politicized in early 20th-century Poland. His monograph, tentatively titled “Exile of the Spirit: Hasidism in Interwar and Nazi-occupied Poland,” will chart Hasidism’s emergence as both a political force and a culture of resistance in a context of coercive assimilation, anti-semitism, and, eventually, Nazi-sponsored genocide.
"Jewish Responses to the Shoah" is produced by Kesler. Since his retirement in 2006, Kesler has written extensively of his and his late wife's experiences during World War II. This is the seventh event that he has planned in a series that chronicles the history and culture of Jewish populations in Europe before the Holocaust.
"Our aim is to commemorate and celebrate the rich historical and cultural contributions of Jewish communities, beginning with that of Ukraine before its tragic extinction by the Germans," said Dr. Kesler, producer of the series. "It is our way of honoring and keeping alive their legacy as time marches on so that these once-thriving civilizations, from whom many among us are descended, are never forgotten."
The program is sponsored through a partnership of Kesler, the East Brunswick Public Library Foundation and East Brunswick Public Library.
The online program is free and open to the public.
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