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America and The Holocaust: A Series of Colloquies

Wednesday, January 18, 2023 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm EST

Dr. Michael Berenbaum joins CWB for a groundbreaking look into the controversy surrounding America and the Holocaust.

Classrooms Without Borders is excited to offer the opportunity share our new series: America and The Holocaust: A Series of Colloquies.

The new PBS Documentary U.S. and the Holocaust has sparked debate over America’s response to one of the greatest humanitarian crises of the 20th century.

In each of our 6 part series Dr. Michael Berenbaum will explore this complicated debate.

Each session will feature an scholar whose work will shed new light on the topic and challenge us to reframe our understanding of the complex portrait of national inaction.

January’s Session

A conversation with award winning filmmaker Pierre Savage on Varian Fry: The One American honored as a Righteous Among the Nations of the Earth by Yad Vashem for the rescue of a Cultural Elite in Vichy France 1940-1941.

Most viewers of the PBS series by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, and Sarah Botstein, The U.S. and the Holocaust, will learn for the first time about the remarkable rescue effort run in Marseille, France in 1940-41 by a young intellectual named Varian Fry.
Veteran documentary filmmaker Pierre Sauvage is completing at last for a 2023 release his feature documentary, And Crown Thy Good: Varian Fry and the Refugee Crisis, Marseille, 1940-41. Filming for this important American saga began in 1998, notably with key witnesses (mostly no longer with us) and many prominent historians. Among the stars of the documentary will be Sauvage’s friends the late American heroes Mary Jayne Gold, Miriam Davenport Ebel, and Charles Fawcett. (Varian Fry and Mary Jayne Gold will also be portrayed in the upcoming fictionalized Netflix limited series Transatlantic.)
The Varian Fry Institute is a division of the Chambon Foundation, founded in 1982 by Pierre Sauvage.

Pierre Sauvage is a French and American documentary filmmaker, best known for his 1989-2023 feature documentary Weapons of the Spirit, about the Christian oasis of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon during the Holocaust. Sauvage himself was born there at that time, but it was only at the age of 18 that he learned that he and his family were Jewish and survivors of the Holocaust.
Upcoming is And Crown Thy Good: Varian Fry and the Refugee Crisis, Marseille 1940-1941, a feature documentary about the most successful private American rescue effort of the Nazi era. In Marseille, France, after France fell to the Nazis, a New York intellectual named Varian Fry led a tiny group that helped to save as many as 2,000 people, including many luminaries of that time
While celebrating some remarkable Americana, the documentary places the story in the context of those challenging times, addressing American policies then towards the unwanted refugees. Sauvage is the president and founder of the Chambon Foundation, dedicated to exploring and communicating “the necessary and challenging lessons of hope intertwined with the Holocaust’s unavoidable lessons of despair.”

Dr. Michael Berenbaum

Dr. Michael Berenbaum is a writer, lecturer, and teacher consulting in the conceptual development of museums and historical films. He is director of the Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust at the American Jewish University, where he is also a Professor of Jewish Studies.

He was the Executive Editor of the Second Edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica that reworked, transformed, improved, broadened and deepened, the now classic 1972 work and consists of 22 volumes, sixteen million words with 25,000 individual contributions to Jewish knowledge. For three years, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. He was the Director of the United States Holocaust Research Institute at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Hymen Goldman Adjunct Professor of Theology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. From 1988–93 he served as Project Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, overseeing its creation. He also served as Deputy Director of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust, where he authored its Report to the President.

Berenbaum is the author and editor of twenty books, scores of scholarly articles, and hundreds of journalistic pieces. His most recent books include: Not Your Father’s Antisemitism, A Promise to Remember: The Holocaust in the Words and Voices of Its Survivors and After the Passion Has Passed: American Religious Consequences, a collection of essays on Jews, Judaism and Christianity, Religious Tolerance and Pluralism occasioned by the controversy that swirled around Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion. He was the conceptual developer on the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Educational Center and played a similar function as conceptual developer and chief curator of the Belzec Memorial at the site of the Death Camp. He is currently at work on the Memorial Museum to Macedonian Jewry in Skopje, the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, and the Holocaust and Humanity Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Future Sessions in this Series:

  • February 15th 2023 featuring’s Session
    A Discussion Surrounding “Ben Hecht: The Legendary Writer Who Mobilized Hollywood on Behalf of the European Jews” Featuring: Rick Richman
  • March 15th 2023 John Sears: Refuge Must Be Given, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Holocaust.
  • April, May and June Guests COMING SOON

Thank you to our Partners


Founded in 1981 as a series of conferences on the Holocaust and its contemporary meaning, the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida opened its current museum in 1986, founded by Holocaust Survivor and local philanthropist, Tess Wise. Located in Maitland, just outside Orlando, the Holocaust Center attracts visitors from around the world. Its mission is to use the history and lessons of the Holocaust to build a just and caring community free of antisemitism and all forms of prejudice and bigotry. The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center will transform into the Holocaust Museum of Hope & Humanity, a lakefront museum in Downtown Orlando and the first-ever built from the ground up in partnership with the USC Shoah Foundation. To learn more about the Holocaust Center, visit www.holocaustedu.org.


Wednesday, January 18, 2023
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm EST
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