BOONE, N.C.—The 16th Annual Martin and Doris Rosen Summer Symposium on “Remembering the Holocaust” will be held Aug. 5-10 at the Marriott Hotel in Boone, near the Appalachian State University campus. This year’s symposium puts a particular emphasis on the Holocaust as an event in global history and explores the complex connections between the Jewish refugee crisis of the 1930s and early 1940s with the present refugee crises around the world.
The week-long symposium will bring internationally and nationally acclaimed scholars, authors and educators to Boone. The event’s faculty and speakers include Holocaust survivor Ralph J. Preiss, Rwandan genocide survivor Eugenie Mukeshimana, Dr. Rebecca Erbelding from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Professor Michael Berenbaum from American Jewish University.
Dr. Racelle Weiman, a world-renowned Holocaust educator, will serve as this year’s co-director. In a special evening event, Suzanne Lasky-Gerard will screen and discuss her documentary “March of the Living” that aired on PBS.
Appalachian’s Center for Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies is also continuing its collaboration with Yad Vashem, the World Center for Holocaust Research, Documentation, Education and Commemoration in Jerusalem, and will feature a presentation by Sheryl Ochayon from Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies.
The symposium provides public and private school teachers, university faculty, students and community members information and insights about the victims, perpetrators and consequences of the Nazi genocide of European Jews.
The program widens its focus to explore Jewish religious and cultural life before the Shoah. Reflecting this year’s emphasis, symposium participants will ponder how the Holocaust can be understood not only as an event in Jewish history, but also in global history. The audience will also learn how the Jewish refugee crisis of the 1930s and 1940s relates to and teaches us lessons in grappling with current refugee crises around the world.
Contributing to the international reach and composition of the event, secondary-school teachers from Hungary and the Czech Republic will attend to discuss the teaching of the Holocaust in their countries.
As in years past, North Carolina teachers can receive continuing education units for attending the lectures, workshops, discussions, film screening or demonstrations.
As one of the participants in the 2016 meeting said, “The Symposium was an excellent academic experience that offered educators the opportunity to grow.”
On campus, the symposium is sponsored by the Martin and Doris Rosen Endowment, the Ruth and Stan Etkin Symposium Scholars’ Fund, the Community Advisory Board and Friends of the Center for Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences and the University Bookstore. In the community, the Temple of the High Country, Havurah of the High Country and the Margolis Family support this event. Nationally and internationally, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, the Leon Levine Foundation, the North Carolina Council on the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C. and Echoes and Reflections of Yad Vashem (in collaboration with the USC Shoah Foundation and the Anti-Defamation League) co-sponsored the symposium.
The event is organized by Appalachian’s Center for Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies, a center housed under the College of Arts and Sciences; and named for symposium benefactors, the late Doris and Martin Rosen. This week-long event is free and open to the public to attend any portion of the symposium. The Marriott Hotel is located at 1050 Highway 105 South in Boone.
For a schedule of events and complete list of speakers, visit https://holocaust.appstate.edu/symposium/2017-schedule. To register for Continuing Education Units, visit https://holocaust.appstate.edu/symposium/registration.
About the featured survivors
Ralph J. Preiss is a Holocaust survivor and retired engineer who lives in Poughkeepsie, New York. Born into a Jewish family in the German town of Rosenberg, Preiss was 8 years old when his parents managed to secure visas and escape Nazi Germany with him in 1939. The Preiss family was among the roughly 1,300 European-Jewish refugees allowed to enter the Philippines from 1939 until 1941. When the Japanese forces invaded and occupied the Philippines in 1941-42, the Preiss family had to flee again, hiding this time in the jungle protected by Filipino guerrillas. After the liberation by U.S. troops, Preiss studied engineering at the University of the Philippines and then obtained a visa to enter the U.S., were he continued his studies at MIT. His parents stayed in the Philippines, where his father had founded a pharmaceutical company. Other family members who had tried to escape Germany only managed to escape to France, where they were rounded up after the German invasion, deported and killed in Auschwitz.
Eugenie Mukeshimana is the founder and executive director of the Genocide Survivors Support Network (GSSN), a charitable organization that helps genocide survivors rebuild their lives. A native of Rwanda, she is a survivor of the central African country’s 1994 genocide. While in hiding from the Hutu genocidaires, who killed about 800,000 of her fellow Rwandans, she gave birth to a daughter. Widowed in the genocide, Mukeshimana came to the U.S. in 2001 to pursue a college degree in social work in Albany, New York. After graduating, she worked with homeless families, helping them to regain housing stability. In light of her teachers’ and classmates’ lack of knowledge of the Rwandan genocide, she began educating campus and community groups. In 2010, she founded GSSN, which has helped survivors to access critical services such as immigration assistance, mental health treatment, language and cultural orientation, career development and college enrollment. It has also enabled many to share their stories with thousands of students throughout the country. In recognition of her work, Mukeshimana received a fellowship from Columbia University’s Human Rights Advocates Program in 2012.
About the Center for Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies
Appalachian State University’s Center for Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies was founded in 2002 to develop new educational opportunities for students, teachers, and the community. Located administratively within the College of Arts and Sciences, the Center seeks to strengthen tolerance, understanding, and remembrance by increasing the knowledge of Jewish culture and history, teaching the history and meaning of the Holocaust, and utilizing these experiences to explore peaceful avenues for human improvement and the prevention of further genocides. The Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies is an associate institutional member of the Association of Jewish Studies, a member of the Association of Holocaust Organizations and of the North Carolina Consortium of Jewish Studies.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.