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Gross Center Events, Fall 2022

Considering the Past to Shape the Future

Panel Discussion on the Recent Documentary, The U.S. and the Holocaust

Thurs., December 1 at 4:00 pm eastern via Zoom

This event is free and open to the public.
Register in advance here.

Join us for an important conversation reflecting on the recent documentary film, The U.S. and the Holocaust, directed by Ken Burns, Lynn Novak, and Sarah Botstein.

Organized and hosted by NJ-PBS in partnership with the Gross Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Ramapo College of New Jersey and the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest.

The U.S. and the Holocaust is a three-part, six-hour series that examines America’s response to one of the greatest humanitarian crises of the twentieth century. Americans consider themselves a “nation of immigrants,” but as the catastrophe of the Holocaust unfolded in Europe, the United States proved unwilling to open its doors to more than a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of desperate people seeking refuge. Through riveting firsthand testimony of witnesses and survivors who as children endured persecution, violence and flight as their families tried to escape Hitler, this series delves deeply into the tragic human consequences of public indifference, bureaucratic red tape and restrictive quota laws in America. Did the nation fail to live up to its ideals? This is a history to be reckoned with. More here.

Pictures of all the panelists

Moderated by Ilyse Shainbrown, Director of Holocaust Education for the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, the panel discussion will feature Dr. Jacob Ari Labendz, Director of the Gross Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Ramapo College of New Jersey, Dr. Rebecca Erbelding, Historian, Education Initiatives as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Rabbi Matthew Gewritz, Senior Rabbi of Cong. B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, and Rebecca Kirzner, Senior Director of Grassroots Organizing and Advocacy at HIAS (originally, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society).


Our mission is to assist students, educators, and the community-at-large in learning the history and lessons of the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and other tragedies.  Through innovative educational programming we seek to promote an understanding of the pernicious consequences of anti-Semitism, racism, ethnic hatred, other forms of bigotry, and violations of human rights; and forge awareness, change attitudes, and introduce new methodologies for the protection of individual liberty and the prevention of genocide.


Founded in 1980 as an independent non-profit organization to educate and interact with the northern New Jersey and Rockland County communities on the tragedy of Hitler’s war against the Jews and other genocides, the Center is now an integral part of Ramapo College. While it receives support from the College, most of the Center’s funding is from private donations. It is a member of the Association of Holocaust Organizations and part of the network of similar organizations under the New Jersey State Commission on Holocaust Education.

The Gross Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies
Director: Jacob Ari Labendz

About the Director

Director: Jacob Ari LabendzJacob Ari Labendz directs the Gross Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and teaches courses in related fields, as well as Jewish studies. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Labendz writes about the history of Jews in and from Central Europe in the twentieth century and contributes to scholarly discussions of nationalism, Cold War governance and politics, contemporary antisemitism, Holocaust memory, and Jewish food cultures. In addition to a number of articles and reviews, he published two edited volumes, Jewish Veganism and Vegetarianism: Studies and New Directions with Shmuly Yanklowitz (SUNY, 2019) and Jewish Property after 1945: Cultures and Economies of Ownership, Loss, Recovery, and Transfer (Routledge, 2017). He is currently collaborating with Rebekah Klein-Pejšová on an additional edited volume, which will focus on the movement and meetings of Jewish people and artifacts across Cold-War boundaries. Dr. Labendz is passionate about integrating Holocaust and genocide studies into curricula and cocurricular activities across Ramapo College, and to serving the broader Bergen-county community.

Advisory Board

Peter Safirstein, Esq., Chair;
Lauren Gross, Vice Chair

Rachel Azulay, Student Member, Arthur Barchenko, Tamara Berman, Christina Connor, Assessment & Instruction Librarian, Roger Gross, Leah Kaufman, Tanya Mayer, Stanley Richmond, Dr. Rebecca Root, Professor of Political Science, Dr. Sharon Rubin, Professor Emerita of Ramapo College, Robert Sek, Linda Sokolski, Colleen Tambuscio, Ani Tchaghlasian, and David Terdiman, Assistant Vice President Institutional Advancement

Ex Officio: Dr. Susan Gaulden, Acting Provost, Dr. Susan Hangen, Dean of the School of Humanities and Global Studies

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