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2014 Bearing Witness Summer Institute: Anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and Contemporary Issues

  • August 8, 2014

ADL’s Bearing Witness participants with Rabbi Ethan Witkovsky at Park Avenue Synagogue, where participants were treated to a synagogue tour and viewing of the Torah

ADL New York hosted its annual conference, ‘The Bettina (z’l) and Erwin Pearl Bearing Witness Summer Institute: Anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and Contemporary Issues,’ on July 28-31, 2014. Bearing Witness is designed exclusively for Catholic school educators—teachers and principals—to learn about the long history of Catholic-Jewish relations and cutting edge methods in Holocaust education for 21st century audiences. Bearing Witness was held at Riverdale’s Manhattan College, an independent Roman Catholic college, and at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park. At Manhattan College, our Catholic educators were treated to sessions exploring Judaism, Catholicism, and the intersection of the two. Special lectures, such as ‘Nostra Aetate and Jewish Responses’ and ‘Joint Readings: Gospel Texts through Time,’ featured a Catholic priest and a rabbi presenting together to reveal where the Catholic and Jewish perspectives diverge—or overlap—regarding religious texts. At the Museum of Jewish Heritage, our Bearing Witness group was treated to private tours of the Museum’s core exhibition and a special session with a Holocaust survivor who shared her remarkable history as a hidden child. Our group then headed uptown to Park Avenue Synagogue, where we were treated to a synagogue tour, including the opportunity to look at an open Torah scroll up close. For many teachers, this tour was the first time they had visited a synagogue. The night continued with a unique ‘Model Shabbat Dinner Experience for Catholic Teachers,’ where the Bearing Witness group, together with ADL lay leaders, ‘broke bread’ together and enjoyed a sample “Shabbat meal” that illustrated communal gathering and celebration.