Lipstadt, whose book was basis for 2016 film Denial, to discuss subject at Anshai Torah
There is no “Denial” that Congregation Anshai Torah’s 2017 Arnie Sweet Scholar-in-Residence Shabbat, featuring Dr. Deborah Lipstadt on Feb. 10 and 11, will be a historical one. The programming for Friday night and Saturday is open to the public.
“Arnie Sweet was a man small in physical attributes but huge and dynamic in stature. His legacy remains alive, well and profound, especially through the Scholar-in-Residence program that bears his name. Arnie always sought the truth; he always carried himself, and addressed others, with dignity, always valuing education,” said Congregation Anshai Torah’s Rabbi Stefan Weinberg.
“Dr. Lipstadt is the perfect scholar to honor Arnie’s legacy as she shares her life’s work with us, demonstrating the tenacity and courage that defines her, a most extraordinary woman. An awe-inspiring human being and purveyor of truth — if our world only had more human beings willing and capable of standing up for their principles, and educating the many onlookers at the same time!”
The scholar-in-residence weekend presented by Janice and Art Weinberg, Cindy and Mitch Moskowitz, Cathy and Joel Brook and many additional sponsors will feature a Lunch and Learn at noon at Congregation Anshai Torah focused on “Contemporary Anti-Semitism, a Clear and Present Danger.”
Friday night, Lipstadt will speak about her trial during Kabbalat Shabbat services beginning at 6:15 p.m. (note early start) and then at the keynote address and dinner following services. At Saturday morning’s Shabbat services, beginning at 9:30 a.m., in an address appropriate and important for high school and college students, in addition to adults, Lipstadt will speak about Jewish life on the American college campus and whether BDS and anti-Israel attitudes are real or imagined threats. On Saturday evening, a dessert reception will be held for sponsors and synagogue leadership at a private home.
“Our Arnie Sweet SIR program has grown and we couldn’t be more proud. We’re privileged to have Dr. Lipstadt, whom we contacted nearly two years ago when the film based on her incredible story was just an inkling,” said Warren Harmel, chair of the 2017 SIR. Harmel, SIR Vice-Chair Barrett Stern, Jacob Ratner, and committee have been working fervently to plan this year’s programming. “Now, Denial has become a huge hit and we’re thrilled to bring the real hero to Dallas. As anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head on university campuses and in Europe, the quote of Elie Wiesel, of blessed memory, about ‘I decided to tell my story because I owe something,’ never rang more true.”
Lipstadt is the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, where she created the Institute for Jewish Studies and was its director from 1998 to 2008. She is a member of the American Academy of Jewish Research and a former member of the executive council of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, for which she helped design the section of the Museum dedicated to the American Response to the Holocaust.
Lipstadt’s book, History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier, was brought to the big screen in the 2016 feature film Denial, starring Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson and Timothy Spall. The film tells the story of the 1996 suit brought by David Irving against Lipstadt, and her publisher Penguin Books, who he charged libeled him in her 1993 book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. In his own writings, Mr. Irving, an admirer of Hitler, insisted there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz and that any deaths there were the results of illness and starvation. In Britain, where libel laws differ from those in the United States, the burden of proof is on the defendant and it was left to Lipstadt and her legal forces to disprove Irving’s evidence.
“We are so pleased Dr. Lipstadt will be coming to Anshai Torah to share her knowledge about the Holocaust and the movement of Holocaust denial,” said Florence Shapiro, a member of Congregation Anshai Torah and board chair of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance. “Her experiences, in both print and in court with Holocaust denier David Irving, bring home the continued need for vigilance against anti-Semitism. An active scholar, Dr. Lipstadt is uniquely qualified to advocate for truth and accuracy in historical scholarship as well as in the media and the public arena.”
“Synagogues have been referred to throughout our tradition by a variety of names but one of the names that was used prevalently by our rabbis was the title Beit Midrash, a house of learning. This is exactly what synagogues are designed to do. We enter a sanctuary to learn, to grow, and to deepen our relationship to God and humanity,” said Anshai Torah’s Rabbi Michael Kushnick.
“At Congregation Anshai Torah, we live with the passion to learn every day of the year from our youngest members all the way through adulthood. Our SIR program is an example of the seriousness our congregation places on adult education and an example of the robust opportunities for learning and growth throughout the year.”
Dr. Lipstadt joins a league of significant scholars with her appearance as the Arnie Sweet Scholar-in-Residence weekend has hosted many of the Jewish world’s finest teachers and thinkers in Rabbis Sharon Brous, Ed Feinstein Danny Gordis, Yitz Greenberg, Yossi Klein Halevi and Donniel Hartman.
“Dr. Lipstadt is a professor, a scholar, a historian and a personal heroine of mine. I know having this amazing woman here as our scholar-in-residence will make for another exceptional weekend,” said Janice Sweet Weinberg.
“Arnie, of blessed memory, and I heard Dr. Lipstadt speak many years ago and we both thought her courage to seek justice was such that will forever have ramifications. Her persistence and her inner strength has been an inspiration to us all.”
For information or to RSVP for any of the events (child care will be provided Friday night and Saturday morning), please call 972-473-7718 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday night dinner tickets are $30 for Anshai Torah members, $38 for nonmembers, and $8 for children. There is no charge for Friday lunch or evening services or for Saturday’s events; however, reservations are required for all events.
For sponsorships, email email@example.com. For more information, visit anshaitorah.org. Congregation Anshai Torah is located at 5501 W. Parker Road in Plano.
— Submitted by Deb Silverthorn