Summer Institute in Israel
The National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education sponsors a three-week Catholic Institute for Holocaust Studies (CIHS) every summer in partnership with Yad Vashem’s The International School for Holocaust Studies, Hebrew University’s The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism and the Isaac Jacob Institute for Religious Law. The institute offers a unique opportunity for participants to learn about Judaism and about the land of Israel, and to visit sacred and historically important Christian sites. The program equips participants to enter into serious discussion on the causes of antisemitism and the Holocaust with serious consideration of the Catholic perspective. The Institute convenes full days with occasional evening sessions, and includes lectures, films, pedagogic workshops, group discussions, and guided travel to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Ghetto Fighters Kibbutz, Tiberias, Akko, Rosh Hanikra, Sea of Galilee, Capharnaum, Tabgha, Mount of Beatitudes, Nazareth, Qumran, Dead Sea and Masada. This program is designed for educators working in Catholic institutions, especially those at the college/university levels. Past participants have included higher education faculty and administrators, middle and high school teachers and administrators as well as priests, seminarians and campus ministers.
Genocide and Holocaust Studies at Seton Hill University
Seton Hill’s online program in Genocide and Holocaust Studies assists current and future teachers, historians, and scholars to understand the cultural, political, economic, and religious forces behind genocide by engaging in comparative study of genocides of the past and present and by examining the singularly horrific crime of the Holocaust. The certificate program provides educators with the tools that are needed to present information on the Holocaust and other forms of genocide to students in an age-appropriate and emotionally supportive manner. It also helps anyone interested in genocide and the Holocaust to have a fuller understanding of the political, social and religious issues that give rise to acts of genocide, and how the lessons of history inform possible responses to the genocides that exist in the world today. Developed in association with Seton Hill’s National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education, the program in Genocide and Holocaust Studies provides students with access to a vast array of resources, including faculty members who are internationally renowned for their expertise in the field of genocide and the Holocaust studies. Opportunities to study in Poland or Israel are also available through Seton Hill’s Genocide and Holocaust Studies Program.
The Question Mark[er] Project
“The 1987 opening of the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education (NCCHE) at Seton Hill University was marked by the planting and dedication of the Peace Tree on the campus, a symbolic presence of the work being done by the Center. As it grew, so did the work of educating about the Holocaust. However, in 2006 the Peace Tree was severely damaged by lightning, and subsequently removed. This unfortunate incident gave rise to The Question Mark/er Project, an ongoing effort at Seton Hill to integrate the arts, history, current events and the study of genocide in an interdisciplinary manner, and to again symbolize the presence of the NCCHE on Seton Hill’s campus.”
- Carol R. Brode, “The Question Mark/er Project: A Case Study” in Learn. Teach. Prevent: Holocaust Education in the 21st Century edited by Carol Rittner, R.S.M. Published by Seton Hill University, 2010.
Art Faculty Carol Brode and Pati Beachley along with Artist and then NCCHE Advisory Board Member Diane Samuels, who created a Holocaust memorial in Grafeneck, Germany, discussed creating a new memorial on campus, as “a way to make history visible.” But, they also wanted to “promote discussion about history, the present, an individual’s role in shaping the present and the future.” The result was The Question Mark/er Project.
In spring 2009, NCCHE interns conducted brief presentations in several classes and collected questions about the Holocaust and genocide. Later that spring, Pati Beachley’s Advanced 3D Media Class created the interactive Typewriter Exhibit in response to the question “What is the Role of Good People in Difficult Times?” (See image above.)
In 2010, Carol Brode created Phase Two of the project in response to the question “Will you speak if your voice is in the minority?” Her project consisted of a garden and etched glass panel installed outside the university’s Lynch Hall.
Four students in Sister Mary Kay Neff’s Graphic Design Class created Phase III as a series of banners in spring, 2012. The banners respond to these four questions: “Why do we love silently but hate openly?”—“What will it take for us to accept others despite our differences?”—“How can we build a better world?”—“How can we nourish altruism and caring in ourselves and others?” The banners won first prize for graphic design in Seton Hill’s Fall 2012 Student Show in Harlan Gallery and were displayed during The Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference, October 21-23.
Carol Brode also wrote in Learn. Teach. Prevent: Holocaust Education in the 21st Century: “ We envision the project to be ever-expandable: it could occur year after year, accumulating numerous markers that each would ask a different question; the project markers could be literary- or performance-based as well as visual; and the openness of the project can be adapted to function in any community. The resulting memorials/markers could be created by an individual or group, artists or non-artists, children or adults, and could be permanent or temporary. It involves all of us in creating memorials that make history visible in a way that is meaningful in the present, and we welcome others to create their own Question Mark/er projects.”
Nostra Aetate Award
The Nostra Aetate Award, established by Seton Hill University in 1991, is named for the first Vatican II Documents to address the Catholic Church’s relationship with non-Christian religions. The award acknowledges distinguished and scholarly work done by an individual in the field of Catholic-Jewish relations. In particular, the award recognizes work which has resulted in interfaith understanding and has promoted an increased awareness of the ways in which religious values are brought to bear on contemporary society.
Recipients of the Nostra Aetate Award include:
- Rev. Edward H. Flannery, a Roman Catholic priest whose book, The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-Three Centuries of Antisemitism, was hailed by Christian and Jewish scholars alike as a groundbreaking work and major contribution toward the exposition of historical antisemitism.
- Dr. Jan Karski, a Polish diplomat and soldier during World War II, who, having escaped from Nazi torture, began a campaign to tell the world about the atrocities occurring in Europe.
- Dr. Eva Fleishner, a Catholic theologian, author and teacher who has taught, lectured and written extensively on the Holocaust and is deeply involved in Christian-Jewish dialogue.
- Ms. Judith Banki, a writer, lecturer and expert in interreligious affairs, who has focused her efforts on the images of Jews in Christian teaching and preaching and Christian church attitudes toward the state of Israel.
- Rev. John T. Pawlikowski, O.S.M., Ph.D, professor of a social ethics and director of the Catholic-Jewish Studies Program of the Cardinal Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, who is a leader in Catholic-Jewish dialogue nationally and internationally.
- Dr. Eugene J. Fisher, a professor, a lecturer, and the only full-time professional in charge of Catholic-Jewish relations in the United States for 30 years. Also the former associate director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
- Sr. Mary C. Boys, S.N.J.M., Ph.D., Dean of Academic Affairs and Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology, Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY, has authored numerous works on the subject of Christian-Jewish relations.
The Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference
The Center’s triennial conference, known as The Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference, seeks to enhance Catholic-Jewish understanding by “educating the educators” in the hope of reaching the whole of humanity. The Conference equips teachers and faculty members, especially those at Catholic institutions, to enter into serious discussions on the causes of antisemitism and the Holocaust, and to write and deliver papers that shape appropriate curricular responses at Catholic institutions and other educational sites. The Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference Endowment Fund supports the appearance at the conference of national and international speakers, sponsors art exhibits that accompany the conference, and underwrites the publication of The Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference Proceedings.
The Ethel LeFrak Outstanding Student Scholar of the Holocaust Award
National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education benefactor Ethel LeFrak, of New York City, created The Ethel LeFrak Outstanding Student Scholar of the Holocaust Award to recognize the Seton Hill University student whose paper best demonstrates a particularly keen and advanced understanding of the lessons of the Holocaust.
The NCCHE staff and faculty teaching in Seton Hill University’s Genocide and Holocaust Studies program select the winning paper for this annual award begun in 2009. All students selected to receive the award will have their papers included in the proceedings of the Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference, which are published on a triennial basis. Additional recognition includes a $1,000 award presented during a Center-sponsored event and publication of an excerpt in the Setonian, Seton Hill’s student newspaper.
Students may submit papers for consideration during the next award cycle to Dr. James Paharik, Coordinator of the Genocide and Holocaust Studies Program, via email, by May 15.
Past awardees include:
- Michelle Horvath (2009), “Factors Leading to the Evolution and Implementation of the Final Solution”
- Jennifer L. Goss, (2010), “Children and the Holocaust: Universal Aspects”
- Josie L. Rush (2011), “Picturing a Better Future: Media Literacy in Genocide Education”
- Katherine Prange (2012), "Understanding the Holocaust Through Personal Accounts"
- Jennifer L. Sproull (2013), "Eva Fogelman-Rescuer of the Hidden Truth"
- Alysa Landry (2015), "Wartime Rape: Understanding Women's Experiences During the Holocaust"