Upcoming Library Program Explores Jewish Responses to the Holocaust


BRUNSWICK EAST, NJ—The Eastern Brunswick Public Library (2 Promenade Jean Civic Center) continues its series of Holocaust commemoration programs with “Jewish Responses to the Shoah”. This online conference will take place on Tuesday May 25 at 7:00 p.m.

Dr. Glenn Dynner, professor of religion at Sarah Lawrence College, will present the lecture “Jewish Responses to the Holocaust: Insights from Personal Memories”. There is a long series of Holocaust memoirs that compel us to “ponder that it happened” in the words of Primo Levi. For it is people’s lives, rather than structures or data, that truly bring home the realities of evil, trauma, heroism, and moments of impossible humanity.

This lecture examines the main memories of the Holocaust by Levi, Elie Wiesel, etc. The program includes a talk about “The Remnant,” written by Michael Kesler, a resident of eastern Brunswick who seems to have made all the right choices while enduring the paradoxical trauma of survival.

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Glenn Dynner is a professor and chair of the religion department at Sarah Lawrence College. His work explores the religious and social history of the Polish Jewish community. He is the author of “Men of Silk: The Hasidic Conquest of Polish Jewish Society” (Oxford, 2006), which received the Koret Publishing Award; and “Yankel’s Tavern: Jews, Alcohol and Life in the Kingdom of Poland” (Oxford, 2014). He is a Fulbright Fellow, Fellow of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies and co-editor of the journal Shofar: an interdisciplinary journal of Jewish studies. He is a member of the editorial boards of Jewish Affairs in Eastern Europe, Journal of Jewish Identities, and POLIN: A Journal of Polish Jewish Studies.

As a member of the Guggenheim, Dynner will study how the mystical mass movement known as Hasidism became politicized in the early 20th century in Poland. His monograph, provisionally titled “The Exile of the Spirit: Hasidism in the Interwar Period and in Nazi Occupied Poland”, will retrace the emergence of Hasidism as a political force and a culture of resistance in a context of coercive assimilation, anti-Semitism and, possibly, Nazi-sponsored Genocide.

“Jewish Responses to the Shoah” is produced by Kesler. Since his retirement in 2006, Kesler has written extensively on his experiences and those of his late wife during World War II. This is the seventh event he has planned in a series that tells the story and culture of Jewish populations in Europe before the Holocaust.

“Our aim is to commemorate and celebrate the rich historical and cultural contributions of Jewish communities, starting with that of Ukraine before its tragic extinction by the Germans,” said Dr Kesler, producer of the series. “This is our way of honoring and keeping alive their legacy over time so that these once flourishing civilizations, from which many of us descend, are never forgotten.

The program is sponsored by a partnership between Kesler, the East Brunswick Public Library Foundation and the East Brunswick Public Library.

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