Our Catholic-Jewish Commission of Southern New Jersey is happy to announce our upcoming fall lecture series. Our Institute for Understanding will be discussing the difficult and dark topic of the Holocaust. The series is titled “Light into Darkness”; all classes will be meeting on Sundays this fall as we test having an earlier time for our classes. We will be meeting at 3 p.m. at the Weinberg Jewish Community Campus, 1301 Springdale Road, Cherry Hill on Oct. 23, 30, Nov. 6 and a special Community Kristallnacht Observance at 1 p.m. on Nov. 13.
Our flyer, sent to all the parishes in our diocese, states, “During the Holocaust, many walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The darkness was so deep. For most, there was no saving light. Yet, in the darkness, there were rays of hope. We will encounter the dark days of the Holocaust first hand with a visit to the Goodwin Holocaust Museum. We will explore the background of the Holocaust from different perspectives. We will conclude by learning about those brave people who risked all to save the lives of Jews and others condemned to death by the Nazi killing machine. For our concluding session, Sunday, Nov. 13, all participants are encouraged to attend the Community Kristallnacht Observance, commemorating the beginning of the end for European Jewry.”
On Oct. 23 participants will have a guided and in-depth tour of the Goodwin Holocaust Museum and Education Center. The tour will include observations from Gloria Mazziotti, a Catholic member of the Catholic Jewish Commission, and a talk from a Holocaust survivor. The Goodwin Holocaust Museum is “dedicated to teaching about the Holocaust, preserving the experiences of those who survived and honoring the memory of those who perished.” Their literature states that, according to statistics from the FBI, “New Jersey is home to the second highest number of hate crimes in the country. Teaching the lessons of the Holocaust is an important and effective means to reduce prejudice and affect attitudes to lesson hatred, bigotry and violence against all groups.”
On Oct. 30 Dr. Michael Hayse, professor of history, Stockton College of New Jersey, will give us historical background on the Holocaust. This will span the time beginning in 1933 when the Jewish population of Europe stood at over 9 million. Most European Jews lived in countries that Nazi Germany would occupy or influence during World War II. Culminating in 1945 when the Nazis and their collaborators killed nearly two out of every three European Jews as part of the “Final Solution,” the Nazi policy to murder the Jews of Europe. Although Jews were the primary targets of the Nazi genocide, other victims included Roma (Gypsies), mentally or physically disabled patients, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and 6 million Soviet prisoners.
On Nov. 6, Dr. Carol Rittner, RSM, Distinguished Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Stockton College of New Jersey, will discuss the Righteous Gentiles. These people are described at the Yad Vashem in Israel as, “in a world of total moral collapse there was a small minority who mustered extraordinary courage to uphold human values. These were the Righteous Among the Nations. They stand in stark contrast to the mainstream of indifference and hostility that prevailed during the Holocaust. Contrary to the general trend, these rescuers regarded the Jews as fellow human beings who came within the bounds of their universe of obligation.”
On Nov. 13 at 1 p.m., all are welcomed to the Community Kristallnacht Observance at the Weinberg Campus. This commemorates the terrible pogrom that took place in Germany known as the “Night of Broken Glass,” Nov. 9-10, 1938. This was the beginning of great suffering for the Jewish people of Europe.
Participants may earn a certificate in Christian-Jewish Relations from LaSalle University, Minimum of 16 class attendance. Per-semester or per-session registration is available. Per-semester is $50 for participants pursuing the Certification in Jewish Christian Dialogue; or $25 for participants not pursuing certification. Per-session $20 for participants in the Certification Program; $10 for participants not pursuing certification. Register online at www.jcrcsnj.org or send checks (payable to “Catholic-Jewish Commission”), and registration information to: The Catholic-Jewish Institute For Understanding, c/o JCRC, 1301 Springdale Rd., Cherry Hill, NJ 08003. For information, call 856-751-9500, ext. 1117.
Father Joseph D. Wallace is coordinator, Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs, Diocese of Camden.