Holocaust: The 2000 Year Road Continues
an Interfaith Course

Apart from understanding why the world went mad—and continues to go mad we have the responsibility to
“remember.” In the act of remembering we honor those for whom there are no burial sites, no pictures and

“They came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”
- Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

often no surviving relatives to place them somewhere on a ‘family tree.’ We need also to remember that even in the midst of overwhelming evil there were individuals of moral courage who did not go quietly into the night. There were the “righteous” who risked their own lives to save the lives of others. Our responsibility to remember also implores us to understand what compels some of us to resist evil when its flames are about to engulf us. I hope you will continue this journey with us. Challenge yourself to be “uncomfortable” – to learn, to witness testimony & to be better & wiser for the journey.
-Morris Wortman, M.D.
Executive Director, Holocaust Study Group

History

Nearly 6 years ago--Yom Kippur 2006--TBK hosted a discussion led by Rabbi Laurence Kotok & Nazareth
President Daan Braveman entitled “The Holocaust: is it still relevant?” I attended this standing-room-only event surrounded by hundreds of men and women who made it abundantly clear that the Shoah was still a very important part of their identity. Moreover along with their hope that “never again” was a solemn wish there was a recognition that the prevention of another Holocaust could only come with a better understanding of how the last one happened.

Grunewald Train Station in Berlin

From October 1941 to February 1945 50,000 Jews were transported from this place--the Grunewald Train Station in Berlin. Today the tracks of this quiet memorial bear the inscriptions of the destinations and dates of what was for many their final journey.

Closeup of tracks, bearing inscriptions.

The following spring I had the privilege of attending a Kollel course on the subject of the Holocaust. This
interfaith course led by Deacon Tom Driscoll and Rabbi Allison Kobey enlightened and inspired me—for up to that point I was unaware that the Shoah also resonated outside of the Jewish community.

In April 2007 an interfaith group of educators, clergy, historians and Holocaust survivors and other passionate men and women formed the Holocaust Study. Together we organized a 14-session course entitled “The Two-Thousand Year Road to the Holocaust.”

Unlike other courses—often directed at high school and college students—this offering was directed at an interfaith gathering of adults.

In the three years this course was offered (2008-2011) over 450 registrants participated—a number far exceeding our expectations. The course eventually grew to 16 sessions; each one over 2 hours long. Together we traced the common bonds and history of Judaism and Christianity along with its divisions. We gained a better understanding of how post-WW I Germany would provide fertile soil for growing and fatal anti-Semitism. We heard four separate accounts—first-hand Survivor testimony—of what they endured and what they witnessed. Through it all we understood how privileged we were to bear witness to these accounts. We also learned of the aftermath—how families were reborn and how Jewish life re-invented itself in the United States and Israel as well as other parts of the world. Unfortunately we also learned that anti-Semitism was not eradicated after the Shoah and that it continues today in ever-morphing forms.

The response to our course was overwhelming. After the 2011 course there was a clear and express desire to continue on—to learn more. Encouraged by our former students we asked ourselves “what now?”

After reconvening our Holocaust Study Group we have assembled a course that expands on our
original course. If you have taken “The Two-Thousand Year Road to the Holocaust” you will be pleased to know that we are covering new ground as we continue to ask not only how such a tragedy could happen in the most cultured country in Europe…but how and why we stand in the 21st century asking ourselves “could this happen again?”

“Only guard yourself and guard your soul carefully, lest you forget the things your eyes saw, and lest these things depart your heart all the days of your life. And you shall make them known to your children and to your children’s children.”

-Deuteronomy 4:9-10

We’ve assembled some of our brightest and committed faculty—Rabbi Laurence Kotok, Deacon Anthony Sciolino, Deacon Thomas Driscoll, Professor Michael Dobkowski, Dr. Ronald Sham and our cherished survivors Mr. Henry Silberstern and Mr. Steven Hess. We stand at an important moment in history
as the world witnesses the emergence of a new and different brand of anti-Semitism and Holocaust threat. We live in the fading moments of Survivor testimony; we are members of the last generation to learn what they have to teach us.

We must hear their testimony while they are still able to provide us with first-hand accounts of a time in human history when the “world went mad.”

The cost of the 8 week course is $36.00