From the Posen Library
(Posen Library)

The topics include “Antisemitism, Holocaust,” “Religious and Spiritual Culture,” “Modern Jewish History,” “Jewish Visual Cultures,” “Secular Jews,” “Gender Studies,” “Jewish Literature” and “Biblical Literature.” 

Deborah Dash Moore has taught Jewish history surrounding the Holocaust for 30 years and is confident there always is a lot more to be learned by students and teachers. 

Moore, the Frederick G.L. Huetwell Professor of history and professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan as well as editor-in-chief of the Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, applied that stance throughout the pandemic. 

Deborah Dash Moore
Deborah Dash Moore

Accessing the resources of the Posen Library and apart from her university responsibilities, Moore oversaw the creation of videos digitally available for free by the general public and especially in anticipation of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday, Jan. 27.

“We have a cluster of what we call teaching clips, which are three-to-five minute clips on seven specific topics that are designed to be potentially used for classroom instruction,” Moore explained. 

“It’s like having a visiting professor come into a class about a specific issue, but each clip is also accessible for anyone who has three-to-five minutes and wants to think about something different.”

The topics include “Antisemitism, Holocaust,” “Religious and Spiritual Culture,” “Modern Jewish History,” “Jewish Visual Cultures,” “Secular Jews,” “Gender Studies,” “Jewish Literature” and “Biblical Literature.”  

Holocaust Clip from Posen Library
Posen Library

For in-depth presentations, Moore serves as moderator for 11 digital events that cover a range of religion-based topics, each running about an hour and prepared in varying collaborations that include the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., Center for Jewish History in New York and the Holocaust Museum Los Angeles. 

The presentation titled “Jewish Writing During the Holocaust” brought new and valuable knowledge to Moore as she interviewed Samuel Kassow, the Charles Northam Professor of History at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and author of Who Will Write Our History? Rediscovering a Hidden Archive from the Warsaw Ghetto.

“I learned of several women poets I did not know about, and one, Zuzanna Ginczanka (1917-1944), wrote the poem ‘Non Omnis Moriar’ that stands out beyond being a literary work,” Moore said.

“She wrote about being in hiding during the Holocaust and being betrayed by her landlady, who reported Ginczanka’s Jewish identity to the Nazis before going on to enjoy the poet’s clothes and other things left behind although the poet certainly didn’t have much to leave behind.

“What becomes so powerful about this poem is that it names the landlady so the poem was used to convict the woman after the war. I had never imagined poetry able to be summoned in a trial as testimony, but this poem was.” 

A wider exploration of the Holocaust is presented in the video “Catastrophe and Rebirth, 1939-1973.” The two guest speakers include Kassow and David Roskies, Sol and Evelyn Henkind Chair in Yiddish Literature and Culture and professor of Jewish Literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

Other programs include “Secularism and Religious Tradition,” “What’s New in the Bible,” “Voices of Jewish Women,” “Midwives, Musicians. Soldiers, Rabbis: Whose Stories Will Become Jewish History?” and “Between the World Wars: Great Creativity and Growing Crisis.”

Holocaust Clip from Posen Library
Posen Library

Making subjects and materials available digitally falls in line with the Posen Library, which is not a physical library but a published collection available for purchase in hard copy by the Yale University Press and also online for free. The library was founded and funded by Felix Posen, a retired commodities trader.

“I think these videos are really interesting because of the ways in which they broaden appreciation of the context of the Holocaust by looking at the entire Jewish world, not just the world of Jews who were under Nazi rule,” Moore said. 

In discussions pointing to issues of antisemitism and ways of resistance, tapes refer to religious, spiritual, artistic, political and combative responses.

 “People don’t always recognize there are many ways of fighting back,” Moore said. “That’s one of the things that’s relevant today from these videos.” 

To access a teaching clip or full program, go to posenlibrary.com, click on “About” and scroll down to “Teaching Clips” or “Events.” The programs also are available on YouTube.

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Suzanne Chessler’s writing-editing career has spanned many years, and her articles have been featured in secular and religious publications across the state and around the country. There was a period of time when she maintained three regular columns in three different publications – one appearing weekly to spotlight metro volunteers, another appearing weekly to profile stage enthusiasts in community theater and a third appearing bimonthly to showcase upcoming arts programs. Besides doing general reporting, she has had continuing assignments involving health, monetary subjects and crime. Her award-winning work builds on majors in English-speech and journalism earned at Wayne State University, where instructors also were writers-editors on Detroit’s daily newspapers.