Recent Publications by Michael Berenbaum

November 25, 2020  — By Michael Berenbaum

The proposed nomination of Effie Eitam to head Yad Vashem would irrevocably wound Israel and the Jewish people’s memorial to the Holocaust.

It will seriously weaken Israel’s ability to invoke the moral authority conferred on the Jewish people by that event. The move is unwise and undermines the memory of the Shoah’s victims and the efforts of survivors to give moral meaning to the memory of the Holocaust. They plead for human decency, dignity and responsibility as individuals and as members of the Jewish community with the goal of promoting human rights and preventing genocide—all genocide.


The misrepresentation of Holocaust history by Israel’s prime minister

by Michael Berenbaum

Posted on Oct. 21, 2015 at 3:07 pm

In a speech to the World Zionist Congress, on Oct. 20, 2015, the prime minister of Israel said:

“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time [Nov. 28, 1941], he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini [the mufti of Jerusalem] went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’


Dodger Stadium Opens First Kosher Concession Stand

LOS ANGELES ( — For the first time at Dodger Stadium, a concession stand is offering kosher food. Follow this link for video of the CBS report.


January 21, 2015 | 11:43 am

In the wake of the horrific terrorist killings in France, my heart took many turns. First there was shock, soon replaced by grief, then anger, followed by resolve. Now it may be time for reflection.

The response from the French and then the Israelis to the two attacks raised some important issues for Jews living in the Diaspora and also in Israel.


by Ryan Torok, Jewish Journal, March 19, 2015

Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s (USHMM) annual Los Angeles dinner was themed “What You Do Matters.”


by Susan Freudenheim, Jewish Journal, March 12, 2015

You’re being honored by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum at a time when talk of anti-Semitism seems more heated than ever. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent speech to Congress sounded the alarm, as if the next Holocaust is around the corner. Do you feel that kind of talk is warranted?

Michael Berenbaum: About a dozen years ago, I convened a conference at the AJU and published its proceedings in a book titled “Not Your Father’s Antisemitism” because I was disturbed by all the ill-informed talk of 2003 being 1933, 1939 or even 1942. I feel that those who refight the last battle lose sight of the current battle and do not understand our contemporary situation.

To say it is not 1933 or 1939 is not to say that the situation is not serious, concerning or disturbing; it is merely to reiterate the obvious — we are different, and the world is different.


10/17/2014 8:00 AM

Documentary filmmaker Alan Tomlinson’s first reaction to WLRN general manager John LaBonia’s pitch for a film about the Treblinka death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland was muted.

“Another film about the Holocaust? It’s kind of been done,” the Miami TV producer/director behind documentary features Nixon’s the One: The ’68 Election (2010), Muhammad Ali: Made in Miami (2008) and Plagues: The Ebola Riddle (2001), said of his initial feeling.

“As a filmmaker, what can I add to this? I’m not even Jewish. You’re kind of in tricky territory and it’s a delicate subject.”


Arnold Mittelman and the National Jewish Theater Foundation have created an online resource at the University of Miami’s Miller Center.

BY CHRISTINE DOLEN This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The horrific story of history’s largest genocide has been told in countless ways: through the first-person testimony of Holocaust survivors, in literature, in movies, in documentaries, in music. Theater has helped tell the story of the Nazis and their World War II atrocities, too, through plays such as The Diary of Anne Frank and Bent and through musicals like Cabaret. Anyone who wants to learn about the Holocaust can access an impressive trove of archival material online, much of it via the Washington-based United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Yet, in all this gathering of art and evidence, there hasn’t been a central online repository for information about Holocaust-related theater. On Tuesday, that will change.


SEPTEMBER 29, 2014

I have been privileged to meet men and women of distinction, of great integrity and high moral character, and yet, we have only met one person whom we could truly call noble: Jan Karski. Karski was the Messenger. A member of the Polish underground, he brought news to the Polish Government-in-Exile of what was happening in the homeland. He was a genuine Polish hero, a gallant man who struggled for his beloved land and also for the Jews whose voice he became at their most critical moment.


The Reich Pogroms of November 1938: The End of the Beginning and the Beginning of the End

Presented to the 25th annual conference for the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust and Descendants (WFJCSHD), Sunday, November 3, 2013

Seventy Five years ago this week, a series of pogroms took place in Germany, which by then included Austria. More than 1000 synagogues were burned, their pews destroyed, sacred Torah scrolls and holy books set aflame. More than 7,000 Jewish businesses were ransacked and 30,000 men age 16-60 were arrested and sent off to newly expanded German concentration camps, most especially, Dachau, Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald. These pogroms were given a fancy name Kristallnacht and it is by that name that they are best known.



By Michael Berenbaum

Published October 03, 2013.

Israel Gutman, Israel’s most prominent survivor historian, died in Jerusalem on October 1.

A native of Warsaw, Gutman was only a teenager when the Germans invaded his Poland. His parents and his older sister died in the Warsaw ghetto; his younger sister was part of the famed Janusz Korczak orphanage, led by the charismatic pediatrician educator who was the Mister Rogers and Dr. Benjamin Spock of Poland. From Korczak, Gutman learned that courage took many forms in the ghetto; he never forgot that spiritual resistance was of great importance.



As one who has studied a folio of Talmud each day for the last 14 months, I am tempted to present President Hassan Rouhani’s interview with CNN as a text to be studied, dissected point by point, sentence by sentence in talmudic fashion.


On December 1, 2011, the BBC published a video on this project.

On March 10, Skopje, the capital of Macedonia — home to more than a quarter of the country’s population of 2 million — gained a new cultural artifact: the Holocaust Memorial Center of the Jews from Macedonia. A landmark in the middle of the city, the center remembers Jews lost in the Holocaust from Macedonia and from neighboring Southeast European nations.

When I was approached in the fall of 2009 to consider working on a Holocaust Museum in Macedonia, I could not have imagined its unique challenges – and opportunities. As a student of the Holocaust I had known of the distinct qualities of Bulgarian occupation. An ally of Germany, Bulgaria had received and occupied Thrace and Macedonia and had consented and implemented the deportation of its Jews to the death camp of Treblinka. None returned.

Bulgaria had also signed an order to deport its own Jews to Treblinka when segments of the population protested, parliamentarians and lawyers, Bishops and priests, writers and  artists and because of this pressure, the government was forced to retreat from the agreed upon deportations. These protesters had remained quite silent where “non-citizens” were sent to their death; they were even more silent earlier when citizens of the occupied territories were deliberately defined as “non-citizens” because they were Jews. But when it came to Bulgarian citizens, well that was a different matter entirely. The Bulgarians could discriminate against Jews, persecute Jews, send Jews to work camps, but deportation to death camps was where they drew the line.

Bulgaria was seeking to portray itself as pure as Denmark, which had rescued and protected its Jews under German-occupation, by emphasizing the non-consent to deportation of its own and developing a historical amnesia regarding the Jews in the territories it occupied as well as its own.


The first call to the first of the Jewish Patriarchs, Abram was “go forth form your land, from the place of your birth, the house of your fathers to a land that I will show you.” The Hebrew of this Biblical verse is far more complex: Lech Lecha, go forth, actually means, “go onto yourself.” Every pilgrimage outward is also a journey inward.

In the early summer of 2009 some 100 Cantors of the Cantors Assembly from various cities and towns in the United States and Canada set forth on a journey to Poland to give a series of concerts: one of Jewish Music in the Main Opera House in Warsaw, the largest such performance hall in Europe; a July 4th concert in the Krakow Opera House of American Music by Polish born, American-Jewish composers to celebrate the migration of Polish talent to the American musical stage, perhaps also to remind the Poles of what they had lost; and another performance as participants in the Krakow Jewish Festivals, which culminates in a musical happening on the main square in Kazimierz, the former Jewish quarter on Krakow, which for one week a year is revived to celebrate Jewish art forms with lectures, concerts, exhibitions, films, and prayer making it more fun to be Jewish in Poland that one week than in the thousand years that Jewish dwelled in the land.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 Poles fill the open square on the final night, dancing, singing, celebrating and masking and perhaps confronting Poland’s Jewish problem: “the presence of absence and the absence of presence.”


I join with Michael Kimmelman (NY Times February 19, 2010) in celebrating the decision of the Auschwitz Museum to revamp its exhibitions for the 21st century.

The visitation to Auschwitz is growing year by year. Its visitors are younger and younger and younger visitors inevitably have less first hand knowledge of the events of World War II.

Furthermore, the tools available to contemporary creators of Museum are dramatically different than the resources that were available a generation ago in the less Westernized Poland when the exhibitions at Auschwitz first took form.


In the fabled fifties when New York was New York, there was one sure way to begin an argument and no way to end it. Just ask any member of the male species who the best center fielder in New York City was and you would hear tall stories of Willie, Mickey, and the Duke. Women (or girls as they were called in those days) were less likely to follow baseball then. The debate still arouses much more passion than logic.
Only a Brooklyn Dodger fan would defend what cannot be defended, attack what cannot be attacked, marshal evidence to contradict what is sacrosanct in baseball—statistics—hits, runs batted in, home runs, double, triples, stolen bases, strikeouts, ultimately pennants and World Series victories. But what Brooklyn boy ever backed away from a fight only because the chances of victory were slight?


The Forward newspaper has done a service to the American Jewish community by publishing the salaries of major executives of American Jewish organizations. They are essentially Jewish communal civil servants, and, as do all civil servants, they sacrifice a measure of privacy — and what is more private in the United States than the amount of money one earns? — for two very important goals: transparency and accountability.

As first glance, these salaries may seem quite high for civil servants and higher than for comparable non-Jewish organizations. Many of the top-tier organizational heads earn significantly more than the president of the United States, whose job, even in the best of times, is far more arduous. And yet, they work for lay leaders who earn far more and who, quite frankly, do not understand how these men and women live on so little.


Holocaust / No Jobs for Innocents

Read the article here.

Poetry in Hell is a special work, dare one say a sacred work. The poems were written over a long period of time, but they were collected at a specific time, in a specific place, by a specific man and his colleagues, for a specific purpose.

A word about that time, that place, that man and that purpose.


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