Refugees: World War II and Now

On behalf of the Jewish-Christian Studies Graduate Program, it is my pleasure to announce and invite educators and other interested individuals to attend this year’s professional study day on March 8, 2017 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. in the Nursing Amphitheatre (Room NU113) at Seton Hall University.


The theme for this year’s Teachers Study Day is Refugees: World War II and Now. In recent years the horrors of war and natural disasters have destroyed the life and livelihood of countless millions of people. Suddenly the survivors have become poor and homeless. Reviewing the history of Displaced Persons of that time, four experts will deepen participants’ awareness of the current situation of those who have fled from Syria, Iraq and other nations and will consider how this knowledge challenges us in 2017.

Featured keynote speaker Dr. Avinoam Patt will present “No Place for the Displaced: The Jewish Refugee Crisis Before, During, and After WWII” and “From Destruction to Rebirth: Holocaust Survivors and the Creation of the State of Israel.” Additionally, the study day will offer the following workshops:

  • Workshop 1: “Literature and the Holocaust,” led by Avinoam Patt, Ph.D.
  • Workshop 2: “Survivors and Holocaust Historiography in Israel: A Story of Awakening,” led by Monika Rice, Ph.D.
  • Workshop 3: “Immigrants, Refugees, and Asylees: Myths, Facts, and Challenges,” led by Maria Biancheri, M.P.P. and Jessica Ramirez, Esq.

About the Speakers:

Avinoam Patt (Ph.D., New York University) is the Philip D. Feltman Professor of Modern Jewish History at the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford, where he is also director of the Museum of Jewish Civilization. Previously, he worked as the Miles Lerman Applied Research Scholar for Jewish Life and Culture at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). Dr. Patt is the author of Finding Home and Homeland: Jewish Youth and Zionism in the Aftermath of the Holocaust; co-editor (with Michael Berkowitz) of a collected volume on Jewish Displaced Persons, titled We are Here: New Approaches to the Study of Jewish Displaced Persons in Postwar Germany; and is a contributor to several projects at the USHMM, including Jewish Responses to Persecution, 1938-1940. He is also director of the In Our Own Words interview project with the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors and most recently, is co-editor of an anthology of contemporary American Jewish fiction entitled The New Diaspora: The Changing Face of American Jewish Fiction. Dr. Patt is currently co-editing a new volume on The JDC at 100 and writing a new book on the early postwar memory of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Maria Biancheri (M.P.P., Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University) has worked for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark for over ten years. At present she is the Senior Grants Specialist. Currently Ms. Biancheri is also assisting Catholic Charities in setting up a resettlement program for refugees from Syria, The Congo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jessica Ramirez, Esq. (J.D., Seton Hall University) is Chief Immigration Counsel and Division Director for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark. She oversees their legal department of attorneys, staff, support services and all law office operations. Ms. Ramirez serves the immigrant community by preparing and delivering professional development presentations and workshops regarding the law and civil rights. She brings a wide ranging background in civil and criminal law to this work.

Monika Rice (Ph.D., Brandeis University) is an adjunct professor at Seton Hall University and at Gratz College in Philadelphia where she teaches courses on the Holocaust, Jewish-Christian relations and women’s spirituality. Her articles, book chapters and reviews have been published (or await publication) in edited volumes and academic journals (Yad Vashem Studies, Holocaust Studies, Polin, etc.), while her first book, “What! Still Alive?!” Jewish Survivors in Poland and Israel Remember Homecoming, will be published in the fall 2017 by Syracuse University Press. The book concerns the evolution of Holocaust survivors’ memories of their first encounters with Polish neighbors after the war as recorded in immediate postwar testimonies.

This program is specifically designed to assist educators in advancing or further developing their expertise in the area of Holocaust and genocide education. The program also fulfills the New Jersey legislative mandate that all students (K-12) learn about the Holocaust and other genocides and offers five professional development credit hours to participating educators.


This study day is sponsored financially by the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust and Genocide Education and the Msgr. John M. Oesterreicher Endowment and is offered free of charge, including lunch, but you must register by March 1, 2017 at, where you can also access a full schedule of the event. If you are an educator, please provide the name of your school when registering.

I hope to see you on March 8th!

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