(MAHWAH, NJ) -- Join Ramapo College of New Jersey on Thursday, December 1 at 4:00pm for an important conversation reflecting on the recent documentary film, The U.S. and the Holocaust, directed by Ken Burns, Lynn Novak, and Sarah Botstein. This event, presented via Zoom, is free and open to the public. Register in advance here.
Organized and hosted by NJ-PBS in partnership with the Gross Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Ramapo College of New Jersey and the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest.
Moderated by Ilyse Shainbrown, Director of Holocaust Education for the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, the panel discussion will feature Dr. Jacob Ari Labendz, Director of the Gross Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Ramapo College of New Jersey, Dr. Rebecca Erbelding, Historian, Education Initiatives as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Rabbi Matthew Gewritz, Senior Rabbi of Cong. B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, and Rebecca Kirzner, Senior Director of Grassroots Organizing and Advocacy at HIAS (originally, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society).
The U.S. and the Holocaust is a three-part, six-hour series that examines America’s response to one of the greatest humanitarian crises of the twentieth century. Americans consider themselves a “nation of immigrants,” but as the catastrophe of the Holocaust unfolded in Europe, the United States proved unwilling to open its doors to more than a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of desperate people seeking refuge. Through riveting firsthand testimony of witnesses and survivors who as children endured persecution, violence and flight as their families tried to escape Hitler, this series delves deeply into the tragic human consequences of public indifference, bureaucratic red tape and restrictive quota laws in America. Did the nation fail to live up to its ideals? This is a history to be reckoned with.
Inspired in part by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s “Americans and the Holocaust” exhibition and supported by its historical resources, the film examines the rise of Hitler and Nazism in Germany in the context of global antisemitism and racism, the eugenics movement in the United States and race laws in the American south. The series, written by Geoffrey Ward, sheds light on what the U.S. government and American people knew and did as the catastrophe unfolded in Europe.
Combining the first-person accounts of Holocaust witnesses and survivors and interviews with leading historians and writers, The U.S. and the Holocaust dispels competing myths that Americans either were ignorant of the unspeakable persecution that Jews and other targeted minorities faced in Europe or that they looked on with callous indifference. The film tackles a range of questions that remain essential to our society today, including how racism influences policies related to immigration and refugees as well as how governments and people respond to the rise of authoritarian states that manipulate history and facts to consolidate power.