Antisemitism and Meaning Making: Overview of the Current Situation and a Deep Dive into Women’s Holocaust Experiences

  • 15 Mar 2023
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Online via Zoom (must register to receive log in information)


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IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This talk will be presented online using Zoom. Registration is required before 3:00 pm on Wednesday, March 15, 2023. Log in information for Zoom will be emailed to those who have registered with their registration confirmation as well as by 3:00 pm on Wednesday, March 15, 2023.

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YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/Pqwes_AwlKE

Date: Wednesday, 15 March 2023 

Location:  Online meeting via Zoom

Time: 7:00 pm


Myrna Goldenberg, PhD, Independent Scholar

Martha Hare, PhD, DMin, Independent Consultant; Pastoral Associate

About the talks:

Using an Anthropological Lens to Address Antisemitism and Collective Trauma

Dr. Hare will set the stage for the evening by providing insights from her transition from a public health researcher to a service provider and itinerant teacher in fields related to Jewish historical trauma.  While studying for a DMin degree incidents of antisemitism began to soar.  Martha examines the cyclical nature of antisemitism, and how it can be used to destroy progressive alliances. She also examines a few models of historical trauma, landing on the use of collective trauma because it recognizes that traumatized groups can make meaning from their experiences.  This meaning-making activity is often contested, yet it also has potential for healing group trauma.

Gentle Heroism

Dr. Goldenberg notes that growing antisemitism makes the study of the Holocaust urgent.  Histories of the Holocaust, almost exclusively written by male historians, were published but not widely publicized in the 1960s and 70s. In the early 1980s, the study of women and the Holocaust attracted feminist scholars who investigated the daily lives of women during this period as well as their particular vulnerabilities to Nazism. They asked the questions asked in all scholarly fields, Where are the women? Does the study of women alter what we know about [this field of knowledge]? The transformation of the subject from an intellectual inquiry into a scholarly area of research was the result of a two-day conference in 1983 that drew 400 women, including survivors, each day. As the field matured and attracted a body of women academics, male Holocaust scholars disparaged the work these women were doing, claiming that studying women’s experiences diminished the focus on antisemitism, the obvious cause of the murder of the six million, as all responsible scholars emphasize. In due time and with strong encouragement from respected feminist academics, an early conference on the Holocaust scheduled two sessions focused on women. These sessions did not go unnoticed by male scholars who complained that there was no essential difference among victims. However, “double jeopardy” describes the challenges women faced during that period: they were reviled as Jews and exploited as women. Feminist researchers persisted and working from published but neglected memoirs, established a body of works that introduced women as resistors, partisans, ghetto fighters, camp functionaries—all of whom faced the same risks, terrors. and tortures that men did. The recovery of memoirs inspired feminist scholars to interview survivors about everyday life during this period and examine Nazi documents and archives. Moreover, such work invited probing comparisons between male and female experiences, the influence of one’s origins on survival, differences in the experiences of straight and gay women, childbirth in ghettos and camps, coping mechanisms of women and men, and the role of gender in the matter of survival.

About the speakers:

Myrna Goldenberg PhD is editor and contributor to four books on women and the Holocaust, one of which won the Canadian Jewish Literary Award in Holocaust Literature, Dr. Myrna Goldenberg also writes articles for Jewish encyclopedias on women’s literature and Jewish women’s lives. In addition, she taught for over three decades at Montgomery College and intermittently at UMBC, UM College Park, and Keene State College, NH. She served as the Ida B. King Visiting Scholar of Holocaust Studies at Stockton College, NJ, and is a founding member and Advisory Council Fellow of the The Weinstein Symposium: The Road to Responsibility in the Age of Shoah, Wroxton College, Oxfordshire, England. Although retired from academe, Dr. Goldenberg continues to lecture widely and conduct research on Jewish women. In her work, she explore the findings and analyze the impact of gender, not only on the women victims but also on the researchers who write about women and the Holocaust.

Martha Hare PhD, DMin is a medical anthropologist whose community-engaged research at the Battelle Memorial Institute built on a decade as a pediatric and community health nurse.  In 2002, Martha left Battelle for the National Institutes of Health where she worked for the next 17 years (National Institute of Nursing Research, National Cancer Institute and Center for Scientific Review).  Martha developed an interest in the impact of historical trauma on community behavior. In 2021, she completed a DMin degree in Jewish Spirituality with a focus on antisemitism and collective trauma.  A long-time yoga practitioner, Martha’s current focus is on healing the human relationship with divinity through embodiment as a springboard for activism. 

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