SEFARAD In the Garden of the Righteous

SEFARAD: In the Garden of the Righteous

About this Event:

2023 marks 78 years since the Holocaust – the genocide of six million Jews – occurred. Across Nazi-occupied Europe, from Greece to Poland and France to Russia, thousands of Jewish communities were virtually extirpated. By May 1945, when the Allies defeated Nazi Germany, 2/3 of European Jewry, and 1/3 of global Jewry, had been annihilated. Sefardic Jewry was devastated as tens of thousands of them were slaughtered, most infamously the hub of the Ladino-speaking civilization in Salonika, Greece, known as the Jerusalem of the Balkans and the Madre de Israel. 

In a world of total moral collapse, there was a small minority who mustered extraordinary courage to uphold human values. Yad Vashem is Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. It is dedicated to preserving the memory of the Jews who were murdered and honoring Jews who fought against their Nazi oppressors. One of Yad Vashem’s principal duties is to convey the gratitude of the State of Israel and the Jewish people to the “Righteous Among the Nations”, an extraordinary group of people, who in stark contrast to the mainstream of indifference and hostility that prevailed during the Holocaust, took great risks to save Jews. These included diplomats that issued visas in defiance of government orders, clergy who sheltered Jews, and royal families that said there was no Jewish question in their realm, saving Jews. As ancient Jewish tradition says, one who saves one human life saves a whole universe.

In a time of resurgent anti-Semitism, this webinar is most timely. It offers to remember the best of humanity, while shedding light on the largely unknown tragedy that after surviving the Spanish & Portuguese Inquisitions, many descendants of the Sefardic world once again fell victim to the worst humanity had to offer and were largely annihilated by the Nazis. Yet, a remnant was saved, many by individuals that are considered “The Righteous Among the Nations”.

While JHA webinars typically focus on the medieval and early modern time periods, we decided to shed light and bring to the fore these 20th century events, which are still in living memory. This webinar thus aims to profile a few case studies – Portugal (Aristides de Sousa Mendes); Greece (Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens and Princess Alice); and Selahatin Ulkumen of Turkey (who saved Jews on Rhodes). Mention may also be made of Denmark and Morocco, whose Jewish communities (of Sefardic descent) were virtually saved en masse, due to the determined efforts of royals, political and spiritual leaders, and everyday citizens.

Join us on Sunday, February 26 at 1pm ET for an unforgettable, powerful conversation with Mr. Richard Hurowitz, a writer and entrepreneur, as he discusses his most recent book, “In the Garden of the Righteous published by HarperCollins Press last month.

 Opening Remarks: Mr. Michael Steinberger – JHA Founder & CEO.

Program Introduction: Dr. Isaac Amon, JHA Director of Academic Research.

Moderator: Mark Braude is a cultural historian and the author of Kiki Man Ray, The Invisible Emperor, and Making Monte Carlo. His books have been translated into multiple languages. Kiki Man Ray was named to Best of 2022 lists by the New York Times, The New Yorker, and Harper’s Bazaar. The Invisible Emperor won a ‘Coup de Coeur’ recognition at the American Library in Paris Book Awards and was named to Best of 2018 lists by The Seattle Times and The Oregonian.

Mark has been a visiting fellow at the American Library in Paris and a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford, as well as a lecturer in Stanford’s departments of Art History, French, and History. His work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, The Los Angeles Times, New Republic, and elsewhere, and he has been invited to speak at venues ranging from Christie’s New York to the US Department of State, to the Volkswagen Innovation Lab. He has been named an NEH Public Scholar and received grants from the Robert B. Silvers Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the de Groot Foundation, among others.

Welcome Remarks – A native of Porto and a trained educator, with degrees in Archaeology and Museum Studies from the University of Porto. He has coordinated the Jewish Community’s Cultural Department since 2012 and since 2021, he has simultaneously served as the Curator of both the Jewish Museum of Porto and the Holocaust Museum of Porto.

Key Speaker: Mr. Richard Hurowitz, a writer, entrepreneur, and founder and publisher of the Octavian Report. His most recent book, In the Garden of the Righteous, was published by HarperCollins Press in January 2023. It has been hailed as “a much-needed account of those who acted with a clear moral compass during the most devastating moments of the twentieth century”, and as a “gift to readers, revealing poignant and inspiring stories of heroism amid horror.”

Richard’s writing has previously appeared in the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Times of London, the Los Angeles Times, Time, and the Jerusalem Post. He is a graduate of Yale University, where he studied history, and Columbia Law School. He currently lives in NYC with his family.

Previously, he was the founder and chief investment officer of Octavian Advisors, an international special situations and distressed investment fund. Prior to founding Octavian, Richard was a partner at Halcyon Asset Management, a multi-billion-dollar hedge fund. He serves on the governing board of the Yale University Art Gallery and is a member of the Bretton Woods Committee and of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a graduate of Yale and of Columbia Law School.

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