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The Pen and the Sword: Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust

In the years leading up to, during, and immediately after the Holocaust, Jews fought with the pen and the sword to save their people—and their memory—in the face of total annihilation. Why did these courageous men and women choose to act, and what wisdom can we derive from their examples of Jewish leadership in times of extreme duress? In this course, students will explore the intellectual, political, and historical roots of Jewish resistance before and during the Shoah, and the many dimensions of this activism that continued long after those horrific years. In rejecting the paradigmatic trope of sheep led to the slaughter, students will consider the enduring legacy of Jewish resistance to the Holocaust, and the continued historical reverberations of these acts of Jewish heroism today. Topics covered include: the attempts by figures like Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Peter Bergson to raise awareness of European Jewry’s plight, the preservation of Jewish cultural history by the Oyneg Shabes group and the resistance of the Warsaw Ghetto rebels, and the attempt to prevent future atrocities through international activism and Holocaust commemoration.