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Women, The Holocaust, and Genocide

2018 Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference

October 21 - 23, 2018

Conference Overview

Seton Hill University’s 11th triennial Holocaust Education Conference will feature:

  • Keynote address by Wendy Lower, John K. Roth Professor of History and George R. Roberts Fellow and Director of Mgrublian Center for Human Rights, Claremont McKenna College. 
  • International Holocaust and genocide scholars addressing the topic of “Women, the Holocaust, and Genocide.” 
  • Presentation of the Nostra Aetate Award to Victoria Barnett, Director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Programs on Ethics, Religion and the Holocaust.
  • Exhibits by artists Carolyn H. Manosevitz and Rev. Robert Keffer, O.S.B.

Registration to open soon.

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About the Conference

A Conference Just for Educators

The National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education'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 Holocaust is one of the greatest examples of the dangers of intolerance. Unfortunately, humankind has learned tragically little from the mass murder of millions of Jews and countless others, as ignorance and bigotry continue to plague human relations. For centuries Jewish-Christian relations were particularly strained. Christianity failed to protect Judaism, and also at times became one of its greatest persecutors. The relationship remained troubled for hundreds of years through the Crusades, the Black Death, amidst allegations of Jewish ritual murder, and the Spanish Inquisition. Even though Christian anti-Judaism began to decline following the Enlightenment, modern antisemitism emerged in Europe in the late 19th Century. Germany’s defeat in World War I gave rise to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, and the Holocaust began during World War II. The Holocaust was the culmination of thousands of years of intolerance. 

There has been a tremendous focus on the role of men and genocide, but far less has been written regarding women and genocide. The conference will examine the role of women and the Holocaust, as well as women and genocide. Women were victims, rescuers, and bystanders, yet they were also perpetrators. The study of women and genocide remains a very important aspect of scholarly research, and the search to better understand factors that lead to genocide will invariably contribute to eradicating such terrible acts in the future. 

Keynote & Featured Speakers

Professor Wendy Lower - Keynote SpeakerProfessor Wendy Lower is the keynote speaker for the LeFrak Conference. Dr. Lower is the John K. Roth Chair of History at Claremont McKenna College, where she is also the Director of the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights. She is the author of Nazi Empire-Building and the Holocaust in Ukraine (2005), The Diary of Samuel Golfard and the Holocaust in Galicia (2011); and co-editor of The Shoah in Ukraine: History, Testimony, Memorialization (2008). Her book, Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields (2013) was a finalist for the National Book Award. Professor Lower has been involved with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in various roles over the past twenty years, and she currently serves on the academic advisory board of Yahad-in-Unam in Paris. 

The Conference also features: Mehnaz Afridi, Manhattan College; Alex Alvarez, Northern Arizona University; Elizabeth Baer, Gustavus Adolphus College; Paul Bartrop, Florida Gulf Coast University; Martina Cucchiara, Bluffton University; Sarah Cushman, Northwestern University; Lee Ann De Reus, Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP); Elisa Von Joeden, Stockton University; John Roth, Claremont McKenna; and Irena Steinfeldt, Yad Vashem. 

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Nostra Aetate Award

Nostra Aetate Award Recipient Dr. Victoria BarnettThe 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 National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education’s Nostra Aetate Award acknowledges distinguished work in the field of Jewish- Christian relations. In particular, the award recognizes scholarship that enhanced interfaith understanding. Dr. Victoria Barnett is the recipient of our eighth Nostra Aetate Award. Dr. Barnett is the Director of the Programs on Ethics, Religion, and the Holocaust at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She is an editor and author whose works include: “After Ten Years”: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Our Times (2017); Bystanders: Conscience and Complicity during the Holocaust (1999); and For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest against Hitler (1992). Dr. Barnett has also served as one of the general editors of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, the English translation series of Bonhoeffer’s complete works, and she has written numerous articles and book chapters on the churches during the Holocaust. 

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.

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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.

Seton Hill 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"

Photo above: Jewish women from Subcarpathian Rus, who have been selected for forced labor at Auschwitz-Birkenau, march toward their barracks after disinfection and headshaving. Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Yad Vashem (Public Domain). 

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Art Exhibits

“eternal presence of absence” by carolyn h. manosevitzSeton Hill University’s Harlan Gallery will feature exhibits by Artists carolyn h. manosevitz [sic] and Fr. Robert Keffer, O.S.B., in conjunction with the Conference. Both exhibits will run from October 21 through November 18 with a special reception for conference participants. 

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Who Should Attend

The conference is designed for Holocaust educators teaching at the college/university and middle/high school levels. 

Hotel & Travel Information

Michael Philopena, Vacation Station Travel Center, michael@vacation- station.net or 724-832-7117, has been designated to assist conference participants with travel and hotel reservations. 

Hotel—Participants should contact Vacation Station Travel to make room reservations. Rooms have been reserved at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Greensburg at a rate of $114.00 per room per night plus a 6% Pennsylvania Sales Tax and 3% Local Room Occupancy Tax. Included are breakfast bar, indoor heated pool, fitness center, refrigerator and microwave in every room and free high speed Internet in every room. All reservations must be made by September 19, 2018 to guarantee rate quoted. After that date, rooms are subject to availability at current rate. 

Air Travel—Vacation Station Travel Center is available to assist with flight and ground transportation arrangements. Pittsburgh International Airport, located about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Greensburg, is the nearest major airport. Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, located approximately 20 minutes from campus, offers flights via Spirit Airlines. 

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Online Course: Women & The Holocaust

Seton Hill University is offering a special online course, HU505 Special Topics: Women and the Holocaust, as part of its online Genocide and Holocaust Studies program. Course participants will attend the conference and study the works of the keynote and featured speakers. The course will be available in the fall 2018 semester. For further information contact Dr. Tim Crain at tcrain@setonhill.edu or call 724-830-1855. 

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Conference Fees & Registration

Conference Fees* are as follows:

Sunday – Tuesday: $120

Sunday: $50

Monday: $50

Tuesday: $50

*Fees include: lite fare during Sunday registration; Monday and Tuesday lunches; Sunday and Monday dinners; and, refreshments during breaks.

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About Seton Hill University's National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education

The National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education (NCCHE) was established on the campus of Seton Hill University in 1987. Seton Hill initiated this national Catholic movement toward Holocaust studies in response to the urging of Pope John Paul II to recognize the significance of the Shoah, the Holocaust, and to "promote the necessary historical and religious studies on this event which concerns the whole of humanity today." The NCCHE has as its primary purpose the broad dissemination of scholarship on the root causes of anti-Semitism, its relation to the Holocaust, and the implications of both from a Catholic perspective. Toward this end the Center is committed to aiding scholars, especially those at Catholic institutions, to enter into serious discussion on the causes of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust; shaping appropriate curricular responses at Catholic institutions and other educational sites; sustaining Seton Hill's Catholic Institute for Holocaust Studies in Israel through a cooperative program with Yad Vashem; encouraging scholarship and research through conferences, publications and educator workshops; sponsoring programs for the University and local communities; and enhancing Catholic-Jewish relations. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the NCCHE via phone, 724-830-1033, or email, ncche@setonhill.edu. 

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About Our Benefactor Ethel LeFrak

Our Benefactor, Ethel LeFrakA graduate and former trustee of Barnard College, the late Ethel LeFrak was a trustee or member of the board of directors for many cultural, philanthropic, educational and medical institutions. She was formerly a trustee of the Cardozo Law School, vice president of the Little Orchestra Society, trustee of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, trustee of the Albert Einstein Medical College, and patron of the Asia Society. 

In addition to memberships in the Metropolitan Opera’s “Golden Horseshoe” and “Opera Club,” Ethel LeFrak was also a patron of the Lincoln Center, a conservator of the New York Public Library, a member of the Council of the Salk Institute, and a member of the Board of the United Nations International Hospitality Committee – which was instrumental in having Ethel and her husband, the late Dr. Samuel J. LeFrak, honored with the United Nations’ “Distinguished Citizens of the World” Award in 1994. 

Many institutions recognize the philanthropic generosity of the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Charitable Foundation, Inc., including the Guggenheim Museum of the City of New York, Temple Emmanu-El on New York’s Fifth Avenue, Queens College, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., the Pratt Institute, Barnard College, and the American Museum of Natural History of New York. 

Mrs. LeFrak also generously donated a large gift to the Albert Einstein College of Yeshiva University. 

With her husband, Dr. Samuel LeFrak, Ethel LeFrak co-authored two books on their family art collection: Masters of the Modern Tradition and A Passion for Art. The LeFrak collection has been hailed by Art & Antiques magazine as being one of America’s top 100 collections. 

In 1996, Mrs. LeFrak was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, by Seton Hill University. In 1998, Marymount Manhattan College also presented her with a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. 

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About the Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference & Student Scholars of the Holocaust Fund

In 2008, New York philanthropist Ethel LeFrak made a generous donation to Seton Hill University’s National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education (NCCHE) to endow The Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference, and create The Ethel LeFrak Student Scholars of the Holocaust Fund. 

The triennial Holocaust Education Conference of the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education – now 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 the art, music or film events that accompany the conference, and underwrites the publication of The Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference Proceedings. 

The Ethel LeFrak Student Scholars Fund provides annual scholarships to support Seton Hill University student participation in the graduate- level Catholic Institute at Yad Vashem in Israel, The Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference and the Genocide and Holocaust Studies Program. In addition, The Ethel LeFrak Outstanding Student Scholar of the Holocaust Award in the amount of $1,000 is presented annually to the Seton Hill University student who writes a paper that best demonstrates a keen and advanced understanding of the lessons of the Holocaust. 

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Contact the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education by email, or by calling (724) 830-1033.