“The Holocaust when taken as a warning may offer mankind a glimmer or hope… nothing more than a glimmer.” – Sigi Ziering
A Compelling Need
As a central, epoch-making event of the 20th century, the Holocaust has impacted our understanding of divinity, humanity, responsibility, identity, and mankind’s capacity to do evil. A trauma of seismic dimensions, it single-handedly shattered national myths and challenged the moral credibility of governments, citizens, and corporations.
With equal power, the Holocaust greatly influenced religious studies and inter-religious relationships. Post Holocaust, religions have been forced to engage in much soul searching and self scrutiny. The best of what has emerged from these reflections is a deepened commitment to religious tolerance, a greater respect for and understanding of religious differences, and a quest for spiritual passion without fanaticism.
In diplomatic arenas, the Holocaust has significantly impacted international relations. Its memory is invoked repeatedly in war discussions and haunts contemporary human rights debates.
While a generation ago there were concerns that the murder of European Jews would be forgotten, interest in the Holocaust is, today, at an all-time high. The event is taught in high schools and colleges and significant scholarship is proliferating. Memorials and museums have been built and are well attended by visitors of all ages and creeds. In film and television, literature and the arts, the Holocaust is continually discussed and referenced. Holocaust survivors have become important moral models on the ways to live and rebuild in the aftermath of atrocity; and extraordinary efforts have been made to record survivors’ testimonies so that the encounter between survivors and future generations can continue well beyond the life span of the eyewitnesses. In fact, given its continued relevance, reference, and ubiquity, many recent discussions have begun to focus on the appropriate role of the Holocaust in Jewish identity and ways to balance the need to both vigilantly honor its memory while, at the same time, prevent its exploitation.
Into this fertile climate the Sigi Ziering Institute Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust is born.
The Sigi Ziering Institute is based on a simple premise: in forging our current global community, we must continue to discuss and learn from the ethical dimensions of this chapter of history in order to enrich and inform not only the Jewish future but the collective future of humankind.
Dr. Ziering – a German born child survivor of the Holocaust who went on to become a brilliant scientist and active philanthropist – wrote powerfully on the ethics of the Holocaust and forged a life of charity and compassion from his own ruinous history. The existence of an Institute dedicated to the study of the Holocaust’s ethical implications is an apt tribute to Dr. Ziering’s life.
Situated within American Jewish University, an institution dedicated to Jewish life and the Jewish future, the Sigi Ziering Institute will:
- Convene programs exploring the role of the Holocaust in contemporary Jewish identity and in American society.
- Educate rabbis and Jewish educators, leaders in non-profit organizations and the general community on the ethical and religious implications of the Holocaust.
- Reach out to clergy of other faiths so that an understanding of the Holocaust is integral to all contemporary religions.
- Hold seminars, public lectures and advanced professional training in the Holocaust and its relation to:
- Legal ethics
- Medical ethics
- Business ethics
- Professional ethics
- Governmental ethics
- Publish papers and works exploring the religious and ethical implications of the Holocaust.
The Sigi Ziering Institute will ask those questions that must be asked. Confronting these significant questions is required to honor the past and forge a more compassionate future