Event will include performance of “Life in a Jar,” appearance by Holocaust survivor Francis Malkin and two lectures on Polish responses to the Nazi-perpetrated genocide.

MADISON, NJ—Drew University will pause on November 15 to remember Kristallnacht by exploring the full range of Polish responses to the Holocaust, paying particular attention to the story of Irena Sendler, whose bravery and quick thinking saved thousands of Jewish lives inside the Warsaw Ghetto. “The Holocaust in Poland: A Terrible Yet Extraordinary History,” presented by the university’s Center for Holocaust/Genocide Study—now in its 20th year—will also feature an appearance by Francis Malkin, a Holocaust survivor who will share her personal story of being rescued.

“This is an excellent program to mark the Center’s 20th anniversary as it continues a tradition of offering high quality programs that enable us to reflect meaningfully on these difficult periods in our history,” said University President Vivian A. Bull. “For two decades, the Center has brought much-needed attention to many conflicts—and, in doing so, plays a leading role in raising awareness and building cross-cultural understandings.”

The dramatic story of Irena Sendler will be told at the conference through an on-stage performance of “Life in a Jar,” an award-winning play written in 1999 by Kansas high school students. These same students, who are now adults, will perform the play at Drew, and offer a talkback session on its significance in both historical and contemporary contexts. The focus of the performance piece is on Sendler’s selfless acts of bravery that saved thousands of young Jewish lives amidst the Holocaust.

Conference participants will also hear from Natalia Aleksiun, associate professor of modern Jewish history at the Touro College Graduate School of Jewish Studies, whose presentation “The Holocaust in Poland: A Complicated History” will kick off the event. She will be followed by Stanlee J. Stahl, executive vice president of The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, who will discuss “The Righteous of Poland,” highlighting the vast number of non-Jewish Poles who risked their lives to save would-be victims of the Nazi-perpetrated genocide.

Holocaust survivor Francis Malkin will bring these presentations into perspective by sharing her personal story as a child hiding in the loft of a barn owned by a Polish family. Her experiences are particularly relevant because her own life was saved thanks to the unimaginable bravery of non-Jewish Poles who protected her from danger. Her talk will include a screening of excerpts from a film on her family’s struggle during the war.

For the last two decades, the Drew University Center for Holocaust/Genocide Study has served as one of Northern New Jersey’s leading providers of public education about the Holocaust and genocides in Armenia, Bosnia, Cambodia, Darfur and Rwanda. The center’s signature events include an annual conference in remembrance of Kristallnacht, an observance of Yom HaShoah, its iconic “Conversations with Witnesses” series that offers first-hand testimonies from genocide victims and heroes, and study seminars led by center associates on topics of contemporary interest.

The November 15 conference is presented with support from a multitude of individuals and organizations, including the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, and the Rosensteil Foundation.

“The Holocaust in Poland: A Terrible Yet Extraordinary History” will be held in Drew’s Dorothy Young Center for the Arts from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Educators may receive up to six hours of professional development credit for their attendance.  Registration, which includes lunch and conference materials, is $20. For more information, please visit www.drew.edu/chs. For questions or to register, please call the Center for Holocaust/Genocide Study at 973.408.3600 or e-mail ctrholst@drew.edu.

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