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New in Jewish Studies


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Originally published in the Union College Magazine, Winter 2014

Several recent initiatives have strengthened the College’s Jewish Studies program and the College's outreach to alumni.

Web lectures

Stephen M. Berk, the Henry and Sally Schaffer Professor of Holocaust and Jewish Studies, has offered to post on-line a series of video lectures from his popular course, “The Holocaust.”

Open to alumni at no charge, the series was posted starting in early January with two classes added each week. Alumni can register through April 6. Participants will receive weekly emails to access and view the videos and syllabus. Registered viewers can watch all archived classes after they are posted.

Prof. Berk’s "The Holocaust" explores European and American Jewry between 1933 and 1945, focusing on modern anti-Semitism, the Nazi world view, German extermination policies, the response of Europe and the U.S. and Jewish behavior in a time of crisis. Besides the full class lectures on video, Prof. Berk will post course materials such as syllabi and suggested readings.

The course concludes April 7 at 7 p.m. (EST) with a live webinar including discussion and a question-and-answer session with Prof. Berk. The webinar is made possible through a WebEx license donated by Cisco.

Registration with an email address is required to access to online videos and April's live webinar. Go here to register.

Holocaust mini-term

For three weeks last summer, Union's new Holocaust History Mini-term sent 11 students to Poland and Lithuania to study the Holocaust first-hand and to help restore a Jewish cemetery in the small town of Aukstadvaris, Lithuania.

During the first 10 days in Poland, students visited Schindler’s Factory and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial near Krakow; the Jewish Ghetto and the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw; and the Treblinka memorial site. In the last 10 days they explored the capital, Vilnius, and the nearby towns. They stayed a few nights with local host families as they worked on the abandoned Jewish cemetery.

Trip leader Anastasia Pease, lecturer in English, said the mini-term helped students not only to understand the history of the Holocaust, but to make personal connections with Eastern Europeans as they work together toward a common goal.

"This trip was about more than just restoring an old cemetery,” said Chris Graff ’'16. "It was about bringing the past back to life. If people forget the Holocaust, it would be almost as big a tragedy as the Holocaust itself."

The trip was supported by a number of alumni. Prof. Stephen Berk provided background lectures and met the group in Poland. Dr. Michael Lozman, a Latham orthodontist who has been active in restoring Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe, helped arrange the trip.

Endowed Fund

A gift from Dr. Arnold Goldschlager ’59, a prominent San Francisco cardiologist, has established an endowed fund for Jewish Studies.

"Dr. Goldschlager’s generous gift will enable the next generation of Union students to examine Jewish culture, history, language and religion from the Diaspora to Israel,” said program chair Stephen M. Berk, the Henry and Sally Schaffer Professor of Holocaust and Jewish Studies. "It is vitally important that the lessons of Jewish experience— including the Holocaust, the Arab-Israeli conflict and the American Jewish experience— carries on. Dr. Goldschlager's gift will ensure that it does."

Dr. Goldschlager, a biology major at Union, holds a medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. After internships and residencies in New York City, and a stint in the Air Force, he settled in San Francisco. For the next four decades, he practiced cardiology and taught medical students at the University of California, San Francisco. He also established air ambulance services in California and Hawaii.

After three decades as a "workaholic," he began to balance his life with sailing and hunting. He recently sailed a 43-foot catamaran in the Caribbean. As a hunter, he has recorded more than 130 species over six continents. In 2011, he was named the Steven E. Nelson Sportsman of the Year by the Mzuri Wildlife Foundation, a San Francisco-based organization that promotes preservation of wildlife habitat, conservation and education.

He is married to Dr. Nora Fox Goldschlager, an academic cardiologist at UCSF. They have two daughters, Hilary and Nina.