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Scholar to discuss vanished Jews of Poland

Dr. Yaffa Eliach, a pioneering scholar in Holocaust studies, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 28 in Whitaker Auditorium. Her talk, “There Once Was a World: Restoring a Vanished Past,” is sponsored by the Philip and Muriel Berman Center for Jewish Studies and Lehigh’s departments of history and religion studies.

The talk is free and open to the public.

Eliach is perhaps best known for creating the “Tower of Life” exhibit at the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. In this soaring three-story space, her collection of 1,500 photographs gives face to a murdered people—the Jews of Eishyshok, Poland, who were killed during the Holocaust.

In her monumental book There Once Was a World: A 900-Year Chronicle of the Shtetl of Eishyshok, she movingly recorded the history of this same vanished people. Her research for this saga of Eastern European Jewish life took her from family attics on six continents to state archives no scholar had seen since the start of the Cold War.

In her talk at Lehigh, she will discuss her life’s work—restoring the vanished past of Eastern European Jews—and explain how she came to write There Once Was a World. She will also talk about her most ambitious project yet, “The Shtetl: The Living History Museum of the Jewish World,” which includes the construction in Israel of a living history museum, which will include a full-size replica of a shtetl (a small Jewish town).

Eliach is the founder of the first Center for Holocaust Documentation and Research in the U.S. and a professor emerita from Brooklyn College. She introduced Holocaust studies on the American campus. Her books include the Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust, We Were Children Just Like You, The Liberators: Eyewitness Accounts of the Liberation of the Concentration Camp, The Last Jew, and Shtetl Children—Angels in Heaven and Children on Earth.

For information, call (610) 758-3352.

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Wednesday, March 23, 2005

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