Never again: Young journalists and seminarians gather to learn lessons of the Holocaust
Beliefnet - Monday July 26, 2010
This Wednesday (July 28) twelve Jewish, Christian and Muslim seminarians will join with three journalism students to begin a program aimed at exploring how their respective professions can derive valuable ethical lessons from the Jewish Holocaust of Nazi-era Germany.
Sponsored by the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the international learning event will send its participants to New York, Berlin and Poland (where the infamous Auschwitz network of extermination camps was located).
The students, all chosen by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional [Talmudic, "Noahide"] Ethics (FASPE) will work with professors and religious leaders to develop a full curriculum planned to begin next summer.
Topics to be explored will involve the role priests played in the military at the time and in the Third Reich, how faith helped form the basis for resistance against the Nazis and how some non-Jews (honored by Israel as Righteous Among the Nations) risked their lives to save Jewish lives. The students will also examine the roles of Pope John XXIII and John Paul II (both of whom lived through the period) played in fighting anti-Semitism, as well as the nature of good and evil itself.
The participating seminarians (under the direction of faculty from Georgetown University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) include a nurse who is studying to be a hospital chaplain, Reform and Conservative rabbinical students, the director of the Islamic Cultural Center in Fresno, CA (who is studying to be an imam) and a Jesuit priest who is studying for a Ph.D in theology, among others.
Father John Langan, who is managing the seminarians involved in the program is the Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Professor of Catholic Social Thought at Georgetown University and a member of the FASPE steering committee. He says he believes FASPE does important work because "it provides a lens that forces us to raise questions about institutional blindness."
Columbia University Professor Ari Goldman of Columbia University is leading the journalism side of the program which will focus on the role of the international and German media before and during the Holocaust. Goldman says "The way that we write about genocide, the way that we write about corruption, the way that we hold people accountable -- these are eternal lessons. So what happened then has lessons for all time."
Goldman notes that FASPE recently started a similar program for law and medical students. He says "The failures of the legal and medical profession during the Holocaust are well known. Lawyers were complicit in the murder of the Jews by enacting laws that went against the very purpose of the law: to protect the innocent, weak and fragile among us. Doctors violated medical ethics every day by experimenting on one people, sometimes in the name of science and other times out of cruelty. There was certainly enough human failure to go around. There are lessons for virtually every profession from the Nazi era. FASPE began with doctors and lawyers and it is now expanding to the clergy and to journalists."
The hope is that the overall FASPE program will equip future professionals with lessons from the past so that future holocausts and emerging tyrannies can be exposed and resisted.
BTW, if you happen to be in the New York City area, the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is located on the waterfront at 36 Battery Place in Manhattan's Battery Park City.