A major conference on the Holocaust, partially funded with money that had
been illegally withheld from Shoah victims by French banks, will bring nearly 40
scholars and artists together in San Diego Jan. 16 and 17 for two days of
presentations dealing with how the arts and humanities can aid the world to
understand the meaning of genocides.
The conference, "Law and the Humanities' Representations of the
Holocaust, Genocide and Other Human Rights Violations," is jointly
sponsored by the Institute for Law and Humanities and the Thomas Jefferson
School of Law of San Diego. The human bridge between the two institutions is
Prof. Susan Tiefenbrun, a professor of international law and human rights at
Thomas Jefferson School of Law who since 1998 has served as president of the
international Institute for Law and Humanities.
Some of the best-known participants include Judge Theodor Meron, president of
the International Criminal Tribunal of the former Yugoslavia (ICTY); Daniel
Goldhagen, author of Hitler's
Willing Executioners; Thane Rosenbaum, author of The Golems of Gotham and
Second-Hand Smoke, and Ed Rothstein, New York Times critic. In
addition to panel discussions, there will be two dramas presented as well as
The Institute for Law and Humanities received approximately $35,000 for this
conference from the Morgan Stanley Settlement Fund, which was created in the
wake of a settlement by French banks that were sued by the victims and families
of victims for the recovery of assets held since before the Holocaust. The
settlement was similar to another one with Swiss banks.
Some members of the local San Diego community will participate in the program
including survivors Edith Eva Eger and Lou Dunst, who will tell their
experiences, and Merle Fischlowitz, president of Temple
Adat Shalom of Poway, who will read his poetry.
highlight will be a presentation by Alephonsion Deng, one of the "lost
boys" from the Sudan, who will speak in association with Judy A. Bernstein,
chair of the International
Rescue Advisory Committee.
Tiefenbrun said in addition to publishing the conference proceedings, a
videotape will be made with a view toward creating a vehicle for teaching about
the Holocaust and other genocides in the schools.
Tiefenbrun has a facility for bringing the strands of her life together.
Once a professor of literature at Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence
College, she went to law school at New York University at age 42, and after
being admitted to the bar, worked for Coudert Brothers in New York, helping to
open the Moscow branch of that law firm.
She returned to the academic life as a law professor at Hofstra University,
directing every summer for the past 13 years an international law program in
Nice, as well as a scholarship program for French students to study law in the
United States. For her efforts in behalf of Franco-American cooperation, she was
conducted by President Jacques Chirac into the French Legion of Honor.
Tiefenbrun joined the faculty of Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 1999 in the
second year of her presidency of the Institute for Law and Humanities—an
organization that had been founded in 1979 by Richard Weisberg, a former
classmate at Bronx High School of Science, who like her had first become a
literature professor before deciding to study law. Now a professor at
Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law, Weisberg will be one of the
participants in the San Diego conference.
arranged for the first day of the conference on Sunday, Jan. 16, to be held in
the sanctuary of Reform Congregation
Beth Israel, 9001 Towne Center Drive, La Jolla, where she is a member. The
conference's second day, Monday, Jan. 17, will be at the Thomas
Jefferson School of Law, 2121 San Diego Avenue. Information on the
conference, its ticket structure, and how to obtain reservations may be obtained
via the website
—Donald H. Harrison