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Holocaust Educational Foundation to Join Northwestern

Northwestern will continue the Foundation’s efforts to support Holocaust research, outreach

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January 17, 2011 | by Alan K. Cubbage
Members of the Holocaust Educational Foundation and Northwestern University leaders met recently to mark the move of the Foundation into Northwestern. Pictured, from left to right, are: John Mills, Business’60, board member of the Holocaust Educational Foundation; Northwestern President Morton Schapiro; Alice Weiss; Theodore Zev Weiss, president of Foundation; Danny Weiss, Kellogg ’01; Deborah Weiss Aizenberg, Medill ’91; Provost Dan Linzer; Nancy Mills Barnett, Graduate Education ’86, board member. Holocaust Educational Foundation board members not pictured: Earl Abramson, chairman of the board; Judd Malkin, Barry Malkin, Sabra Minkus and Howard Stone. Photo by Jim Ziv

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Holocaust Educational Foundation, a private nonprofit organization established by Theodore Zev Weiss and friends, will become part of Northwestern University in order to continue the Foundation’s mission of preserving and promoting awareness of the Holocaust.

Northwestern will continue the Foundation’s efforts to support academic research and educational outreach on the Holocaust. The University and the Holocaust Educational Foundation have been partners for many years in sponsoring the Lessons and Legacies Conference. These interdisciplinary conferences, which attract more than 200 scholars from around the world, focus on different perspectives of Holocaust Studies. Northwestern University Press then publishes the proceedings of each conference.

In addition, Northwestern hosts an annual Summer Institute on the Holocaust and Jewish civilization that is sponsored by the Holocaust Educational Foundation. The institute is an intensive course of study designed to broaden and deepen the background of educators who either already teach or plan to teach about the Holocaust. More than 500 professors and graduate students have graduated from the Institute and are teaching courses on the Holocaust all over the world.

“We very much appreciate the support that Northwestern has received over the years from Theodore Zev Weiss, the Foundation’s president, and the Foundation,” said Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro. “Through his leadership, the Foundation has had a national impact on the fields of Holocaust Studies and Holocaust education. Now, by bringing the operations of the Foundation into Northwestern, the Foundation will ensure that coming generations will never forget the tragic lessons of the Holocaust.”

The Holocaust Educational Foundation recently gave $1 million to Northwestern and will donate an additional $5 million to endow the program permanently.

“Memory is the most important thing we possess as humans, memory of both good and evil. By passing the torch to Northwestern, this ensures that the Foundation’s work will be secure in perpetuity,” said Weiss at a recent meeting on the Northwestern campus. “Northwestern University and the Holocaust Educational Foundation are already close through our previous work together, and it’s therefore fitting that we will stay close and continue to work together.”

Weiss is the long-time president of the Skokie-based Foundation, and is himself a Holocaust survivor. Weiss was deported to Auschwitz with his parents, a brother and a sister. Upon arrival they were separated and he never saw them again. He was in Birkenau, an extermination camp, and also worked as a slave laborer before finally being liberated in Austria by the American army.  He came to the United States in 1956 and was a teacher and principal for 35 years in addition to being president of the Holocaust Educational Foundation.

In 2000, funded by a gift from the Holocaust Educational Foundation, Northwestern University established the Theodore Zev Weiss – Holocaust Educational Foundation endowed professorship in Holocaust Studies. The chair is held by Peter F. Hayes, who holds appointments in the departments of history and German at Northwestern, and who has earned an international reputation for his scholarship on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

The Holocaust Educational Foundation was established in 1976 to record permanently the testimony of survivors of the Holocaust.  In 1988, the Foundation provided funding to help establish a course at Northwestern, The History of the Holocaust. The course is offered annually at Northwestern and now enrolls approximately 150 students a year. Similar courses have been established at more than 400 other colleges and universities with the assistance of the Foundation.

“The Holocaust Educational Foundation has had a tremendous impact throughout the country and throughout the world, and we want it to continue to thrive,” said Daniel Linzer, Northwestern’s provost. “We’re delighted that we’re able to move the Foundation and its important programs to the next stage, and we expect that this will be an entity that thrives at Northwestern.”